Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I have just finished reading
The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean.

A young Marina works in the Hermitage Museum/Gallery
in Leningrad at the time of the German invasion.
She helps pack the precious paintings,
removed from their frames, to be taken into hiding and safety.
Marina memorises each work of art,
building in her memory a mansion, room by room full of artworks.

Years later, living in America and suffering from Alzheimer's,
Marina begins to live again the horrific
Leningrad years and we go with her into that
memory mansion in her mind and visit the paintings.

I have loved this book. How wonderful to seek
the paintings on google as I read, and to explore the Hermitage.

I enjoyed Debra's post script explaining how she came to write this novel,
without ever having been to St Petersburg,
and her reaction to her visit there after the book was written.

Alzheimer's has suddenly become especially real to me lately
as I support a very dear friend.
Debra Dean's book is one I will remember on many levels,
and a visit to St Petersburg and the State Hermitage Museum is
definitely on my Bucket List.
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  1. I, too, loved this book. And I, too, have had the poignant experience of trying to help a friend with Alzheimer's --

  2. Thank you for introducing this book, Joan. It sounds interesting on so many levels. There was a documentary a few years ago on the Hermitage and the subject of the removal of the paintings and an interview with one of the women who hid the paintings. We owe such a debt of gratitude to all the people who have protected art throughout the war years, don't we?

    I keep thinking of your friend, Joan.