The Madonnas of Leningrad - Debra Dean

The Madonnas of Leningrad

By Debra Dean

  • Release Date: 2009-10-13
  • Genre: Literary
Score: 4
From 100 Ratings


“An extraordinary debut, a deeply lovely novel that evokes with uncommon deftness the terrible, heartbreaking beauty that is life in wartime. Like the glorious ghosts of the paintings in the Hermitage that lie at the heart of the story, Dean’s exquisite prose shimmers with a haunting glow, illuminating us to the notion that art itself is perhaps our most necessary nourishment. A superbly graceful novel.”  — Chang-Rae Lee, New York Times Bestselling author of Aloft and Native Speaker

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. . . .


  • Madonnas of Leningrad

    By Pinpallindrome
    I loved this book- it left some things unanswered- at least in my mind- what happened with the "god" who impregnated her- it just didn't seem to be explained or fit in to the story.Also it end too abruptly- like there was a dealine to get it on line and she just ended it.
  • Madonnas of Leningrad

    By Earth mom
    Enjoyed it very much. Art, Russian history, Alzheimer's . Very interesting read once you accept the bouncing between past and present.
  • Madonnas of Leningrad

    By Mbishop5
    This book was an eye-opener. I was drawn into the museum worker's love for art and their desperate situation during the Nazi siege of their city. It had me reading late into the night to find out how they survived!