Fascinating historical fiction novel set in the Hermitage during WWII and modern times. Central figure was a museum tour guide who survived the German bombings and later in life copes with dementia. Well done.
I loved this book and I think the story will stay with me always.
The author's ability to describe the paintings as seen through Marina's eyes many years ago was wonderful. I could actually "see" each painting she was describing. I would have liked to know more about Marina the woman, about her life after the war, how she came to be in America and so on. Her character lacked depth which lessened the horrific times she survived. A good book for a first time author.
Dean has written a painterly reflection on a love of art that enabled a young woman named Marina to survive the Siege of Leningrad. As the story moves from her life in wartime Russia to her present life on the Washington coast, her memory of the Hermitage paintings remains despite her struggle with Alzheimer's disease. By visually and verbally depicting the stolen and beautiful artworks for herself and others, Marina is able to illuminate and live through the darkness of past times.
Beautifully written. Touching and evocative.
Blind Date With a Book Comment:"Excellent and timely since I plan to visit the Hermitage this summer and I am a student of history and art."
A deeply touching book, flashing between a young woman's ordeals at the Hermitage Museum during the horrendous siege of Leningrad during WW II and late life, as Alzheimer's takes hold. Art is a strong theme. Wonderfully human. If the writing had been more taut, this would have deserved the highest rating.
An interesting tale that is both real and imaginary in the best sense. The book brings you through multiple countries and times. A little depressing.
_The Madonnas of Leningrad_ was an interesting mix of historical and contemporary fiction. I enjoyed the seamless weaving of an aging couple's stories caught in the net of a changing reality. The deft use of details about the Siege of Leningrad marries nicely with Dean's artistic eye for depicting the onset of Alzheimer's. Although unthinkable tragedies beset the characters in this novel, beautiful moments of compassion remind us how to remember the past and how to move forward into the uncertain future.
I enjoyed The Madonnas of Leningrad. It gives you a good feel for day to day life in Leningrad while it is under siege by the Germans. I think the author missed an opportunity by not incorporating better use of the knowledge Marina acquired of the artistic works in the museum.
Another interesting book that also covers Leningrad during this same horrific era is City of Thieves: A Novel by David Benioff
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