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Zennor in Darkness Paperback – February 24, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (February 24, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140173560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140173567
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,443,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Helen Dunmore is an award winning poet and novelist, children's novelist and short-story writer. BURNING BRIGHT (1994); A SPELL OF WINTER (winner of the Orange Prize 1995); TALKING TO THE DEAD (1996); LOVE OF FAT MEN (1997) are all published by Viking. She lives in Bristol with her husband and children.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
The title is less mysterious than it might seem. Zennor is a tiny town near St. Ives in Cornwall where D. H. Lawrence leased a secluded cottage in 1916 and 1917. The Darkness is of course the First World War, which claimed the young men of the county, brought German U-Boats to their shores, and set the suspicious villagers against Lawrence, his strange pacifist ways, and his German wife Frieda von Richthofen (a distant cousin of the celebrated Red Baron). Also straddling the gap between two worlds is Clare Coyne and her widowed father Francis, an impoverished younger son of minor Catholic aristocracy, whose wife, a former lady's maid, died of TB while Clare was still an infant, leaving her to be brought up mainly by her extended family in this Cornish town, people of good heart but a different class and religion from her father. But while Francis Coyne lives in isolation on dwindling investments, writing a book on local botany, Clare leads a full life among her relatives and friends, developing her talents as an artist, and eventually striking up a friendship with Lawrence himself.

Zennor is a lovely place, with bracing cliff landscapes and sea air, beautifully evoked by Helen Dunmore. But the darkness is never far from their doors. Telegrams arrive with sickening frequency announcing yet another death. Men return wounded in invisible ways. Passions flare in brief encounters that only reinforce awareness of the destruction taking place just the other side of the Channel. ZENNOR IN DARKNESS ranks with Pat Barker's REGENERATION trilogy as a view of war from the sidelines, helpless but by no means unaffected.
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By Brennagh on November 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an amazing first novel by Helen Dunmore. It was hard to track down a copy but I perservered because I read that the setting is Cornwall during WWI (interesting time period) and that D.H.Lawrence (a favorite) and his wife are secondary characters. Dunmore captures the period and as far as I can remember about Lawrence (it's been awhile) his persona. Dunmore's switches in narrator flow smoothly. She convincingly captures the sense of place and time so that the reader feels the spray of the sea on the craggy inlets and feels the war's effect on all the characters.
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By Discerning Reader on April 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
A visit to St Ives and the surrounding area had introduced me to Zennor and the connections of the place with D H Lawrence. The local museum was very interesting and threw light on D H Lawrence's relationship with his German wife, and the reactions of the local people to the war, especially with an enemy ( Freida, D H Lawrence's partner) living in their midst.

The reviews of the book Zennor in Darkness on Amazon have been positive. I started reading the book, wanting to be enlightened about the Cornish countryside, Zennor, and D H Lawrence and his relationships. After about 40 pages I found my mind was drifting away from the book, and although I did read the book to the end, it was a real struggle, not a book I would like to recommend.

Trying to understand why my reaction is so different from other reviewers, I would like to suggest the following:

The present tense in which most of the book is written does not somehow convey the full impact of any event.

The writer has not been able to convey very powerfully to the reader the darkness of Zennor, the theme of the book.

The relationship between D H Lawrence and Frieda, and of the local people was such a powerful period in Zennor that it could have been turned into a very gripping book. The reason maybe that the author tried to hint at events/relationship, rather focusing on the crucial ones.

I believe later books by Helen Dunmore have been more focussed.
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