Wendy said, "Debra Dean's debut novel The Madonnas of Leningrad is a moving story of an elderly woman caught in the debilitating disease of Alzheimers. As she sinks further into her illness, she begins to remember her years working at the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad, including the Nazi siege of Leningrad. A wonderful book for Russia...here is my review."
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.
I also thought the book was excellent. Click here to read Bonnie's review of the book.