Recently a co-worker recommended this book and I was thankful for the suggestion. The Madonnas of Leningrad is set in modern times and Leningrad (St. Petersburg, Russia) in the early 1940′s during the Siege of Leningrad. Marina, an octogenarian Russian immigrant, has Alzheimer’s, is confused by the world and doesn’t always remember family members; however, she has very vivid memories of 1941 and the time she spent working and living at the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad. Her husband, who is a life-long family friend, tries to protect her and shield his children from the reality of her dementia.
This a story that develops on two levels. One level is a family coming to terms with the reality of Alzheimer’s and dementia. The other level is the story of Marina who creates a “memory palace” of all of the artworks in the Hermitage as a diversion to the starvation, cold, bombing, and terror she experiences in Leningrad in 1941. Marina shares the beauty of her memories, bringing the paintings to life through her vivid descriptions and passion for the art she worked so hard to save. ~Enjoy~