Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean

This short but meaningful novel tells the story of Marina Buriakov, an elderly woman suffering from Alzhiemers. Although she struggles to remember the routines of her present life and her granddaughter's wedding, the smallest detail brings her back to her days during the Siege of Leningrad, when she took refuge at the Hermitage where she had worked as a docent. She and several other families face fear and starvation as they seek protection in the museum's baement from bombs and attacks. In order to pass the time and maintain sanity, Marina memorizes the details of each work of art and where it belongs. These memories remain vivid as her present-day ones diminish.
I enjoyed the symbolism of the novel, as well as the touch of history in its descriptions of life for the residents of Leningrad during WWII. I also found that I understood Alzheimers a little better through Marina's thoughts and how they would so quickly shift from one decade to another. This was the library's pick for book club, and most of the group enjoyed it. Some felt that the characters were underdeveloped, one felt that it should have been either a short story or a longer novel, and one completley hated it. For me it was good enough that I will pass it along to friends, which as a library lover I don't always get to do!

Rating: 4 Stars


  1. Thanks for passing this one along. I have not heard of it before but I am going to add it to my TBR list.

  2. Jeanette,
    I hope you like it when you get to it!
    Thank you! I'm so proud of myself that I was able to do a new background(even though it was really easy)
    Thanks for the nomination! I've been meaning to add the music again, I better get to it.