Bridget's Reviews > The Madonnas of Leningrad

The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
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's review
Sep 27, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 2009-reads
Read in September, 2009

I have had this book for a few years, having won it in a blog contest from Wendy at Musings of a Bookish Kitty. Occasionally, I would think about reading it, but never felt "in the mood," until recently.

The main character, Marina, is an elderly Russian woman, living in America, and suffering from Alzheimers. Her husband is devoted to her, but he is also elderly, and not always able to keep up with her. Her grown children are anxious for their parents to move to a care facility where they can remain together, but where there father will have help with their mother.

The story goes back and forth between the current-day wedding of a granddaughter and the Fall of Leningrad in 1941, when Marina was a tour guide at The Hermitage, and helped the staff save the priceless collection from destruction.

I found this book to be fascinating, not just for the "personal" history of life in Leningrad during that time, but also as a peek into the mind and existence of someone with this terrible disease. To have your past become easier to remember than the names of your children seems so unthinkable, yet Debra Dean writes in such a way that you truly feel that you are in Marina's head.

An unusual, but very good read.
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