Phyllis's Reviews > The Madonnas of Leningrad

The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
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Sep 25, 11

Read in September, 2011

Many thanks to Judy for this. When she wrote that one of the aspects of this book was a case of Alzheimers, I was someone reluctant. As it turns out, this is vital to the book's plot.

I didn't know that this book would fit into my new appreciation for historical fiction as well as my fascination with fine art. I think I had read/heard once upon a time about the efforts to save the art of the Hermitage, but the Madonnas truly makes these efforts come to life. While suffering, hunger, cold, and the deaths of their colleagues, the workers of the museum (who are living in the cellars) endure, at least partly, for the sake of the art. I loved the idea of a "memory palace" and think it would be a great exercise for students of all disciplines.

I was irked by the younger generation who, even though given hints of their mother's incredible past, either didn't believe her or imagined her "ramblings" to be examples of her increasing dementia. I thought "what a loss", but then perhaps this is more typical of parents and children than not. The younger generation can't imagine that their parents might have experienced amazing things, and the older ones want to spare their children the knowledge of what they have suffered.

The original review of this book (on good reads) is beautifully written, and for that reason I haven't touched on some of the main points. Do read that review, and then the Madonnas.
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