Having survived starvation and German invasion, Leningrad couple Andrei and Anna face one final, particularly nasty purge, that of the “saboteur” doctors. Picking up 10 years on from her work The Siege , Dunmore’s The Betrayal details the fragile inner life of the couple under Stalin’s regime in its dying days. In a society in thrall to poisoned party logic, doctor Andrei is faced with the difficult (and potentially fatal) task of telling the truth to a head of secret police, whose son has cancer. Meanwhile, in their feverishly guarded home life, Andrei and Anna try to conceive a child, attempting to overwrite the scars of history. The central two appear as implausibly stoical and self-sacrificing as Stalinist propaganda would have them, but Dunmore slowly sculpts her characters through trying circumstance. Dunmore’s luscious prose glides through this doomy historical romance, settling momentarily on prickly details such as the specifics of osteosarcoma or “conveyor belt” torture at Lubyanka, and building to a moving and bitterly pragmatic finale.