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The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean

The Madonnas of Leningrad (2006)

by Debra Dean

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,5291036,968 (3.84)194
  1. 30
    People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (mrstreme)
    mrstreme: Similar history of how museum workers scrambled to save pieces of art during wartime
  2. 20
    The Siege by Helen Dunmore (Imprinted)
  3. 00
    Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah (kthomp25)
    kthomp25: A fictional account of a woman who lives through the Siege of Leningrad and is separated from family only to find them many years and another lifetime later.
  4. 00
    Through the Burning Steppe: A Wartime Memoir by Elena Kozhina (Imprinted)
    Imprinted: Author Elena Kozhina survived the Siege of Leningrad and grew up to become a curator at the Hermitage Museum.
  5. 00
    Ordeal of the Hermitage: The Siege of Leningrad 1941-1944 by Sergei Varshavsky (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Author resource
  6. 00
    The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad by Harrison E. Salisbury (Imprinted)
  7. 00
    Moving Pictures by Kathryn Immonen (cransell)
  8. 00
    Tinkers by Paul Harding (Limelite)
    Limelite: Another beautiful and deeply satisfying novel about love, memory, and family delivered to the reader through the mind of a dying man. Instead of paintings, his "memory palace" is filled with clocks.

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» See also 194 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 102 (next | show all)
In 1999, The Frye Art Museum in Seattle hosted an exhibition from The Hermitage: Paintings from the Russian Soul. I've visited museums world wide and this remains as one of my favorite collections. Debra Dean managed to take us to those paintings and in some cases, into those paintings with her carefully crafted descriptions and sadly sweet book. Not a traditional Romance, but a wonderful read. ( )
  SallyBrandle | Jul 7, 2018 |
beautiful but so sad - entwined stories of decline into Alzheimers and the deprevations of the siege of Leningrad 1941- ( )
  siri51 | Feb 4, 2018 |
Disappointing with lots of potential. The premise is awesome, could have been a 5* if pulled together better.
I loved the Russian historical aspect, and i understood that the main character was suffering from Alzheimers in the present day, but the disjointed jumping was distracting , I also think it would have been much better written from the perspective of Marina, not her daughter.

She worked at the Hermitage during WW2, survived is the better word. Married her true love she kept her past locked up and stored away- much like the artwork she strived to save years before. I wish the book followed HER and her eventual decline as a priority. Too much other stuff thrown in as filler i feel. ( )
  linda.marsheells | Jul 12, 2017 |
Ms. Dean's novel is more about art than about the siege of Leningrad during WW II. This is a decidedly lightweight account of that period, suitable for chick lit aficionados. Meh. ( )
  Annesq | Feb 13, 2017 |
Debra Dean’s The Madonnas of Leningrad is a lyrical and elegant novel about Marina, a young tour guide of the Hermitage Museum during the siege of Leningrad during World War II and her present day battle with Alzheimer’s. The novel shifts smoothly between Marina’s life in Leningrad battling starvation and Russian winter and her present day battle with Alzheimer’s while at her granddaughter’s wedding, comparing and contrasting the two life experiences.

During the siege Marina creates a “memory palace”, remembering each and every painting once held in the museum in an effort to keep her own sanity during the war. In present day Seattle, Marina has trouble remembering every day details but can recall intimate details regarding her memory palace. Dean does an excellent job comparing the past with the present and describing the masterpieces of the Hermitage Museum. While we never do learn how Dimtri, Marina’s childhood friend/fiance/husband, reunited with Marina in Germany, this short novel does not disappoint.

This was book was first published in 2007, but I read Dean’s more recent work The Mirrored World first. Both novels have a lyrical, magical quality about them and it is so easy to get lost in the world of these short novel. Dean is a fantastic writer, I look forward to reading more from her in the future.
Review The Artemis Reader

( )
  artemisreads | Jun 7, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 102 (next | show all)
Her granddaughter's wedding should be a time of happiness for Marina Buriakov. But the Russian emigre's descent into Alzheimer's has her and her family experiencing more anxiety than joy. As the details of her present-day life slip mysteriously away, Marina's recollections of her early years as a docent at the State Hermitage Museum become increasingly vivid. When Leningrad came under siege at the beginning of World War II, museum workers--whose families were provided shelter in the building's basement--stowed away countless treasures, leaving the painting's frames in place as a hopeful symbol of their ultimate return. Amid the chaos, Marina found solace in the creation of a memory palace, in which she envisioned the brushstroke of every painting and each statue's line and curve. Gracefully shifting between the Soviet Union and the contemporary Pacific Northwest, first-time novelist Dean renders a poignant tale about the power of memory. Dean eloquently describes the works of Rembrandt, Rubens, and Raphael, but she is at her best illuminating aging Marina's precarious state of mind: It is like disappearing for a few moments at a time, like a switch being turned off, she writes. A short while later, the switch mysteriously flips again.
added by kthomp25 | editBooklist, Allison Block

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Debra Deanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Middelthon, Elisabet W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schwaab, JudithTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Cliff,
my companion on the journey
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This way, please. We are standing in the Spanish Skylight Hall.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060825316, Paperback)

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. . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:02 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In a novel that moves back and forth between the Soviet Union during World War II and modern-day America, Marina, an elderly Russian woman, recalls vivid images of her youth during the height of the siege of Leningrad.

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