The Madonnas of Leningrad: A Novel by Debra Dean

The Madonnas of Leningrad: A Novel

byDebra Dean

Kobo ebook | October 13, 2009

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“An extraordinary debut, a deeply lovely novel that evokes with uncommon deftness the terrible, heartbreaking beauty that is life in wartime. Like the glorious ghosts of the paintings in the Hermitage that lie at the heart of the story, Dean’s exquisite prose shimmers with a haunting glow, illuminating us to the notion that art itself is perhaps our most necessary nourishment. A superbly graceful novel.”  — Chang-Rae Lee, New York Times Bestselling author of Aloft and Native Speaker

Bit by bit, the ravages of age are eroding Marina's grip on the everyday. An elderly Russian woman now living in America, she cannot hold on to fresh memories—the details of her grown children's lives, the approaching wedding of her grandchild—yet her distant past is miraculously preserved in her mind's eye.

Vivid images of her youth in war-torn Leningrad arise unbidden, carrying her back to the terrible fall of 1941, when she was a tour guide at the Hermitage Museum and the German army's approach signaled the beginning of what would be a long, torturous siege on the city. As the people braved starvation, bitter cold, and a relentless German onslaught, Marina joined other staff members in removing the museum's priceless masterpieces for safekeeping, leaving the frames hanging empty on the walls to symbolize the artworks' eventual return. As the Luftwaffe's bombs pounded the proud, stricken city, Marina built a personal Hermitage in her mind—a refuge that would stay buried deep within her, until she needed it once more. . . .

Title:The Madonnas of Leningrad: A NovelFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:October 13, 2009Publisher:HarperCollins E-BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0061747181

ISBN - 13:9780061747182


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good, but not complete During the fall and winter months of 1941, Marina, a tour guide at the Hermitage Museum, is packing the museums artwork and precious artifacts to make sure they aren't destroyed during the war. As each piece is packed away, she memorizes its location and the way it looks, making sure that someone remembers the museum as it was before the war in case it never returns to that way. Then she suffers through incredibly tough times, hiding during raids, staying in the cold on watch, and eating and sleeping very little. Marina's past is interwoven with her present, a grandmother with Alzheimers who is losing threads with the present and keeps remembering the past. There are some similarities between past and present that keep the story moving along. While I really enjoyed the concept of this book, and most of the execution, there were some things that nagged at me by the time I had finished. The first was I felt like the book wasn't developed completely. Characters floated in and out of the novel without much explanation even though some of them did have impact. The other thing that really bothered me was that the book just ended. What happened after the war? What happened after the wedding for Marina? I wish these bits had been developed a bit more because that would have made the book just that much better.
Date published: 2011-04-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Cleverly crafted and captivating This artfully constructed story weaves fluidly from past to present, painting a vivid picture the human faces of the siege of Leningrad. With reference to the art of the Hermitage museum, the story evokes the power, beauty and pain of survival, memory and loss.
Date published: 2008-01-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from True to Everyword Marina Buriakov is an eighty-two year old Russian immigrant in America. She is losing her long fought battle with Alzheimer's disease. Her granddaughter Kate, is getting married in seattle, and she is finding it hard to remember anything. All she has left is a few memories that are fading. This story really touched me, because my eighty-nine year-old grandmother has Alzheimer's disease. This book is very emotional and touching.
Date published: 2006-08-02