Book Reviews of The Madonnas of Leningrad

The Madonnas of Leningrad
The Madonnas of Leningrad
Author: Debra Dean
ISBN-13: 9780060825300
ISBN-10: 0060825308
Publication Date: 3/1/2006
Pages: 240
Rating:
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 31

4 stars, based on 31 ratings
Publisher: William Morrow
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

23 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 23 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 10
Easily the most engrossing book I've read this year, Dean's work is a quick, easy read (for me, just one sitting on a free Saturday afternoon,) but at the same time is educational. I've a graduate degree in European revolutionary history and I've done some study of Russian history, but I knew nothing of the siege of Leningrad (St. Petersburg) or how the Hermitage coped with the it. Dean's illustrations of suffering and struggling with the simple act of just being alive is exceptional. The book is also an interesting examination of Alzheimer's Disease as, at the same time as the main character is coping with the limitations of her disease, the memories of 60 years ago are as fresh as ever, her "memory palace" wholly intact.

An excellent throwaway read, but not one I'll keep coming back to or even keep on my shelf...
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 35 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
I had not heard of this book or its author. I bought the book by accident. However, I couldn't put it down once I started it.

The layered plot involves an older woman who has developed Alzheimer's, and whose memories and observations revolve around her present relationships with her family as well as her returning back in time to WWII to the siege of Leningrad. During the war, she worked with others to hide all the Hermitage Museum's artistic treasures. In both periods of her life, present and past, she describes her friendships, loves, and family as well as the cycle of history she was in which she was participating.

Debra Dean, the author, writes beautifully, almost poetically, and the descriptions of the Museums, its holdings, and the city of Leningrad during the war have been thoroughly researched. As a reader, I was swept back in time after the first couple of pages.

I thought this was a wonderful book.
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on
Helpful Score: 2
I love how the past and present intersect and trade off in, The Madonnas of Leningrad. Russian-born Marina is an elderly woman who has to be reminded about many things because her memory is slowly being poisoned by Alzheimers. Marina is a young girl who stays at the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad during the German invasion to help evacuate the paintings and art. She is compassionate and tends to the needs of others while living in the basement of the museum. She sees, feels and smells death all around her. Marina is old again and her beloved husband, Dmitri, who was a soldier during the war, is helping her to dress. He is tender with his wife and his anguish at facing the stage of his wifes condition is as heartbreaking as the day he had to leave her to help stop the Nazis siege. Marina is young again and she is surviving horrific war conditions as her city is surrounded. We are there as her past and present are reconstructed in vivid detail and her grown daughter, who never really knew much about her own mothers life, discovers things about herself, through witnessing her parents unconditional and absolute love for one another.
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 102 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I heard about this book from (I think) the library's book review emails and thought it would be fascinating, so I added it to my wish list on PBS. I think the big draw for me was the Russian aspect of the book, but I'm not sure. Anyway I started reading it at 9pm; when I went to bed at 11:30, I was on page 180. I completed the rest of the book the next day during my lunch break, except for the additional info in the back which I read the following day. In the end I was a bit disappointed with it. I think she accomplished her purpose, to show what it's like in the mind of a woman with Alzheimer's. But I also think there was too little character development for my taste. I found out from the additional info that the author has only done short stories and poetry up âtil now, so I think that accounts for the brevity of the novel and the lack of depth in the characters. I've already posted in back on PBS as there is a 14 person waiting list for it. I hope someone else will enjoy it more than I did.
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 335 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A moving, heartbreaking portrait of a Russian woman suffering from Altzheimer's & how the past is much clearer than the present. Moving between the past and present this book presents an accurate picture of what life with the disease is like while also showing the horrors of the past. Very well done!
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 17 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Unforgettable story of love, survival and the power of imagination in tragic circumstances. One of those books you can't forget and want to share.
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 102 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I heard about this book from (I think) the library's book review emails and thought it would be fascinating, so I added it to my wish list on PBS. I think the big draw for me was the Russian aspect of the book, but I'm not sure. Anyway I started reading it at 9pm; when I went to bed at 11:30, I was on page 180. I completed the rest of the book the next day during my lunch break, except for the additional info in the back which I read the following day. In the end I was a bit disappointed with it. I think she accomplished her purpose â" to show what it's like in the mind of a woman with Alzheimer's. But I also think there was too little character development for my taste. I found out from the additional info that the author has only done short stories and poetry up âtil now, so I think that accounts for the brevity of the novel and the lack of depth in the characters. I've already posted in back on PBS as there is a 14 person waiting list for it. I hope someone else will enjoy it more than I did.
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Russian historical fiction. Outstanding. Not what you might expect. If the Hermitage intrigues you, read this book...now.
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 50 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was a magical read. What a wonderful talent this first time author has. She goes back and forth between time frames effortlessly.
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 14 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I really liked this story. It wove the tragic story of the siege of Leningrad within a modern day issue. It handled the subject of Alzheimer's with grace and insight. A beautiful picture of strength and grace.
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 80 more book reviews
Loved it! Reminded me in various ways of the books Water for Elephants and The Red Scarf, both of which I also enjoyed. The Madonnas of Leningrad takes place in the present, but reflects back to the time of the main character's life during the siege of Leningrad. In spite of the extreme hardships of the time, she not only survives, but manages to keep love, hope, and compassion alive in some very unique ways. Throughout the book she amazed me with her resilience. I liked her family very much too, especially her husband. So glad someone recommended this to me.
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 9 more book reviews
I enjoyed reading this book and learming things of Russia. It was a great book and a touching story of the main character.
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 17 more book reviews
Enjoyed learning about that time in history.
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 379 more book reviews
Fascinating story of Leningrad during WWII-and the sad story of a woman falling into Alzheimers- A true story of survival. Read this in a weekend.
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 141 more book reviews
I enjoyed reading this book about a survivor of the battle of Leningrad and her faithful husband who continues to love her as she slowly slips into alzheimers disease in her final years. A depressing subject, but an interesting, if morbid look into the mind of one who still remembers the horrors of her earlier days in Leningrad. Genny
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on
Enjoyed it. A little on the sleder side.
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 125 more book reviews
What a beautiful book. The author can reallly "paint" a picture...you can see everything she says. Try it, you'll like it.
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 299 more book reviews
I have just finished reading this wonderful book, and I know I will be thinking about it for a long time, and to think that it is the autor's debut novel. It tells the terrible, heartbreaking story of a sad period in Russian history, during the siege of Leningrad, during the 2nd world war. The main character, Marina, is a docent at The Heritage Museum and she is helping the entire staff, who are living in the cellar of the museum, to save and send away the art for safekeeping from the Nazis. She becomes a living memory of the works and the horrible deprivation endured by the city of Leningrad during the Nazi occupation, in what the Russians called "The Great Patriotic War". And you follow Marina during her lifetime and as she deals with Alzheimers disease, which was very interesting. It was like an art history class and I learned so much. The characters are well described and the story easily holds your interest. Definitely recommend it for those who prefer a little deeper read.
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 81 more book reviews
Love and struggles. That is what this book showed me: the love of a woman with art/beauty, the love of a husband with his wife; the struggle of life in Russia, the struggle of a husband, trying to care for his failing wife.

The first 100 pages were slower but then it picked up speed and left me feeling touched by something special.
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 72 more book reviews
I really, really enjoyed this book. I had read about the Hermitage evacuation of art and the seige of Leningrad in Tatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons (a wonderful series). It was very interesting to read the details of the process. The story captured my imagination and my only negative thing to say is that I would have loved for the story to be longer. I thought the relationship between the main characters was touching and powerful. I thought it was interesting that the thing that allowed Marina to make it through the war, the ability of her sharp mind to imagine and recall, was the thing that failed her at the end of her life. I would definitely recommend this book.
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 64 more book reviews
I chose to read this book next as it was on someone's wish list. I've just finished it but can't re-post it yet as I want my book club to read this book. The writing is beautiful and the way the subject matter, a woman with early Alzheimer's, is handled is inventive. I've been to the Hermitage and could just picture it again as I followed Marina through it's halls. But how nice to also be able to follow her on the Hermitage's wonderful web site.
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 102 more book reviews
I heard about this book from (I think) the library's book review emails and thought it would be fascinating, so I added it to my wish list on PBS. I think the big draw for me was the Russian aspect of the book, but I'm not sure. Anyway I started reading it at 9pm; when I went to bed at 11:30, I was on page 180. I completed the rest of the book the next day during my lunch break, except for the additional info in the back which I read the following day. In the end I was a bit disappointed with it. I think she accomplished her purpose, to show what it's like in the mind of a woman with Alzheimer's. But I also think there was too little character development for my taste. I found out from the additional info that the author has only done short stories and poetry up âtil now, so I think that accounts for the brevity of the novel and the lack of depth in the characters. I've already posted in back on PBS as there is a 14 person waiting list for it. I hope someone else will enjoy it more than I did.
reviewed The Madonnas of Leningrad on + 40 more book reviews
Excellent book! Will definitely recommend this reading to anyone into historical fiction .