My book-club selection this month was The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean. Marina Buriakov is an 82 year old Russian immigrant afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease. The novel flits back and forth between the current day in which Marina can not even remember whether she has eaten breakfast or recognize her own daughter and the siege of Leningrad at the beginning of WWII where her family ended up living in the basement of the Hermitage.
Marina was a tour guide in the Hermitage when the war broke out and was responsible for packing up for storage the thousands of paintings, statues and art works that the Hermitage housed. The siege of Leningrad devastated the population many whom nearly died of starvation and Marina had to to eat the glue from the picture frames to survive. The book is filled with many references to famous works of art and conveys how the beauty of art can provide solace during the worst of times.
- Good descriptions of many works of art
- Describes Alzheimer’s and how much more devastating the disease is for the family members than for the patient
- Overall, was uninterested in any of the characters, even Marina
- Had no real ending and didn’t link Marina’s past and life as an American together
- Boring and just didn’t float my boat
I’m lukewarm on this book and unless you have any interest in Alzheimer’s or Leningrad -pass.