The Madonnas of Leningrad: A Novel
4 journalers for this copy...
A very moving story. It treats two very difficult subjects without being impossibly depressing to read. The contrast between Marina's clear memories of the war years and her loosening grip on present reality is handled beautifully as the narrative moves almost seamlessly between the two. I was particularly touched by the scene at the wedding reception when Marina is talking to the "nice lady in a pink dress" [may not be an exact quote; I lent the book out without writing it down].
I had never heard that during the siege, museum employees gave tours of the museum, stopping before the empty frames and describing in great detail the paintings that used to hang there. That they remembered not only the fine points of hundreds of works, but also their precise location is a testament to their love of art and dedication to their job.
It was interesting to learn that Ms. Dean wrote the book before she had the chance to actually visit St. Petersburg [Leningrad]. Her account of the trip she took with her husband post-publication was quite humorous.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Released for Leap Into the Wild Challenge hosted by AlterEgoZoe.
Released for Oh, the Places We Can Go Challenge hosted by Secretariat.
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I hope you enjoy the book!
But wow, I'm so glad I picked this one up; what a gem. The picture I'm uploading here is one I took in December 2013, during a trip to St. Petersburg (the former Leningrad). It's of the Jordan Staircase in the Hermitage Museum, which is mentioned several times in the book.
The scenes where Marina describes the absent artworks in such detail that her audience begins to see them - those were my favorites. But the suffering and mutual support of the staff during the siege was also memorable. Impressive book!
[Side note: the empty-picture-frames scenes resonated with me, as I'd just read Guardians of the Louvre, a manga which included scenes of the Louvre's empty frames when its artworks were taken away during WWII. Oh, and in the author's list of references I found Russian Ark, a film exploring the Hermitage, and now I want to see it! ]
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
[See other recent releases in MA here.]
*** Released for the 2019 Keep Them Moving release challenge. ***
*** Released for the 2019 Oh the Places We Can Go release challenge. ***