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.
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.