The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean

The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean: This is the haunting tale of Marina, a woman who works and later lives in the Hermitage art museum in Leningrad during the long winter of the German siege in World War II. It switches back and forth between her suffering at the museum and her present day self in the Pacific Northwest as an elderly woman whose mind is failing her.

Though I had never read about Russia during this time period, much less the siege of Leningrad, as I read I began to wonder if perhaps I’d heard too many stories from WWII. The hunger and death grew wearisome, with the only real interest of the story coming from Marina’s passionate descriptions of the art in the Hermitage. But things improved, and I left this book happy I had read it. This is one of those books you wander through with only mild interest until the last few scenes, when everything picks up and ties together, and you turn the last page feeling uplifted and truly satisfied.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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