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By the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Lie. Forbidden love, intimate betrayal and the devastating power of exposure drive Helen Dunmore's remarkable new novel.

'A deceptively simple masterpiece' Independent on Sunday
'Will haunt you for months, if not years' Guardian
'Outstanding ... if you only buy one book, make it this one' Good Housekeeping

The Cold War is at its height, and a spy may be a friend or neighbour, colleague or lover.

At the end of a suburban garden, in the pouring rain, a woman buries a briefcase deep in the earth.

She believes that she is protecting her family.

What she will learn is that no one is immune from betrayal or the devastating consequences of exposure.


Helen Dunmore delivers a deceptively simple masterpiece, a new take on the lives of the men and –particularly – the women caught up in the cold war … Exposure is magnificent

Cole Moreton, Independent on Sunday

Dunmore packs an impressive amount on to a compact canvas. Full of convincing detail, the novel is as much about sexuality in the age of the Chatterley ban as about Whitehall skulduggery … A dramatic mix of domesticity and derring-do … Like many of the best spy novels, Exposure sets out to unsettle Britain’s view of itself.

Sunday Telegraph

Under its smooth, naturalistic surfaces, Exposure has a tightly wrought plot gripping as any thriller. But it is the union of this plot with complex, challenging characters that makes the book such a surprising and fulfilling read…will haunt you for months, if not years.

Kate Clanchy, Guardian

It is an intriguing set-up, and with Dunmore at its helm this tale of divided loyalties never lets up for a minute … Dunmore is such a class act … she sticks to the human essentials of her story, does not over-complicate things, and comes up trumps yet again.

Mail on Sunday

Hers are expert hands at turning 20th-century history into gripping fiction.

The Times

Exposure succeeds as a Cold War thriller as well as a psychological drama. It deals with some lurid events, but evokes the texture of time … It offers in fact what Dunmore does best: a story of “desperate urgency, cloaked in the everyday”

David Grylls, Sunday Times

One of our most outstanding writers, Helen Dunmore has drawn inspiration from the classic spy novel for her latest book ... While it has all the thrill and menace of a John Le Carré novel, Dunmore is more interested in the personal ... An atmospheric read full of vivid characters – if you only buy one book this month make it this one.

Good Housekeeping, Book of the Month

The danger with ‘literary thrillers’ is simple: the more literary a story is, the less thrilling it can be. There’s a balance to be found, and Dunmore expertly weights both sides. She revels in layers of concealment. Beautiful poetic phrases, quite startling at times, enliven the eye and the mind.


Helen Dunmore's subtle tale of espionage and fear has a refreshingly human scale… It is, in many ways, a romance where salvation comes through a late, unexpected and generous act of love.


Dunmore’s treatment is distinctive. Her work as both a poet and a novelist, is characterised by its rich sensuality and the stark emotional truths at its core. This sensibility, along with the small domestic and personal details at which she excels, transcend genre…

Catherine Taylor, Financial Times

Exposure is the sort of winter read you hanker for…the period is so meticulously re-created that you almost hear the hiss of the gas streetlamps

Melissa van der Klugt, The Times

An intricately observed and emotionally powerful Cold War thriller that combines subtlety and complexity to create a deeply satisfying and moving book

Hannah Beckerman, Sunday Express, S Magazine

Dunmore is one of our best modern historical novelists and fans of her previous books will be eagerly awaiting this new one. [Exposure is] set during the Cold War and follows a woman determined to protect her family against the odds.


Dunmore is a very astute and skilful novelist… Exposure is as good as anything she has written; and that’s very good indeed

Alan Massie, The Scotsman

A novel about belonging, loneliness, love and the idea of home.... Exposure is a fine addition to the shelves of cold war literature

Stephanie Merrit, Observer

Dunmore has always been fantastic on the complexity of people's motivations and the secret reasons they act as they do. This book is no exception ... The textures of the times - the daily lighting of fires, the lumpen food and unwieldy domestic appliances - are drawn with poetic sensibility. It all adds up to a richly satisfying story ... a page turner ... it's as much a surprising love story as it is a tale of spies.

New York Times Book Review

A gripping, subtle, emotional novel

Sadie Jones, author of The Outcast

This book is a triumph - a marvellous piece of seamless storytelling. The characters are so persuasive, as is the period flavour, while the plot is masterly - I kept thinking I could see where we were going next, and then we didn't. This is an imaginative new take on the Cold War thriller, so convincingly told and peopled that you surface from it surprised to be back in 2015.

Penelope Lively

Dunmore so cleverly interweaves each of the character's stories that as the tale unfolds it has the chilling ring of absolute authenticity. It’s gripping and page turning and all those things you expect in a Spy Drama - but always laced with her trademark humanity. I was totally caught up in the story which is paced perfectly. Her best book yet.

Mavis Cheek

Her stories are fluid with a stylish and completely unpretentious skill, and Exposure is no exception … the characters are so superbly drawn.

Literature Works

Displays empathy for social period and how historical forces shape lives


From page one, the marvellous seamless, gimmick-free writing establishes the violent swerving from thankful calm to choking, icy wash of fear … This was my first encounter with the acclaimed Ms Dunmore and, within 24 hours of turning the last page, I had to rush to find another of her works.

Country Life

Helen Dunmore returns with a book more twisting and layered than her previous, and yet is an intimate and compelling study of people, personalities and the secrets we hide from each other.

The Bookbag

Pleasurable narrative and thoughtful prose

Literary Review

This subtle, off-kilter foray into John le Carré territory—a chilling, thoughtful, deeply romantic drama about the collateral damage suffered by those on the periphery of world events—displays Dunmore's gifts as one of today’s most elegant and versatile storytellers.


Exposure is a beautifully written novel that really showcases this author’s talents.

The Welsh Librarian blog

Exposure is a great spy thriller with an emotional side to it ... it gives you great character's and a beautiful setting. Lily Carrington is one of the best character's I have read about in a book in a long while.

Rachel Bustin blog

A wonderfully descriptive tale of three rich characters and serves as a great way of bringing the private fears and realities of the Cold War period to life and this novel is a story of that time, as much as anything else.

Culture Fly

Exposure is about the drive to protect one’s family and the devastating consequences of abruptly finding oneself on the wrong side.

Anne Goodwin blog

Exposure is a brilliantly plotted novel, it’s enormously compelling and I gulped it down. Dunmore builds the tension slowly, the atmosphere of fear and creeping shadows is chillingly well done.

Heavenali blog

Exposure is a brilliantly plotted novel, it’s enormously compelling and I gulped it down. Dunmore builds the tension slowly, the atmosphere of fear and creeping shadows is chillingly well done.

Heavenali blog

Just as thrilling and just as unputdownable as any Le Carré

The Tablet

A compelling read

Irish Times

A surprising and fulfilling read

The Oldie

Exciting, with a touch of Graham Greene

Evening Standard

Few novelists can rival Dunmore

Sunday Times Ireland

With a poet’s intensity for minutia and symbolism and an always hungry precision for the right word, she creates a real and thoroughly vivid world, a living place, grim and claustrophobic, full in small ways of menace.

Irish Examiner

Reading Helen Dunmore is like uncovering an old, intimate secret. Her historical detail is flawless. Her narrative focus is never so much on the big public bluster as it is on the private fragility of the human heart - and her latest novel might be her finest yet.

Irish Independent

Clever and moving

The Scotsman, Books of the Year

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    October 31, 2016

    Windmill Books

    400 pages

    RRP $26.00

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • Hardback


    February 15, 2016


    400 pages

    RRP $55.00

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • Trade Paperback


    February 1, 2016


    400 pages

    RRP $37.00

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • EBook


    January 28, 2016

    Cornerstone Digital

    400 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks NZ
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia NZ

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

Also by Helen Dunmore

Birdcage Walk
The Lie
The Greatcoat
Fatal Error
The Betrayal
Counting The Stars
Burning Bright
Your Blue-Eyed Boy
With Your Crooked Heart
A Spell Of Winter
House Of Orphans
Mourning Ruby
The Siege


The Handmaid's Tale
To Kill A Mockingbird
Echo Burning
A Gentleman in Moscow
Best Laid Plans
Fool Me Once
The Golden House
The Girl on the Train
The Heart's Invisible Furies
Swing Time
The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The Girls
Cold Blood
Fifty Shades Darker
The Trip of a Lifetime
The Light Between Oceans
Ready Player One