Oct 31, 2010

Leningrad Madonnaları (The Madonnas of Leningrad)

Original Title: The Madonnas of Leningrad
Turkish Title: Leningrad Madonnaları
English Title: The Madonnas of Leningrad
Author: Debra Dean
Pages: 440
Rating: 4/5
When I decided to blog about the books I have read, one of the first websites that I came across was that of Lesley. I decided to read this book after I read Lesley’s review and after a short conversation with my grandmother. My grandmother was telling me that there was no such disease called Alzheimer when she was young and now it is all around her. She doesn’t suffer from it but some of her friends and relatives do. My coincidence with Lesley’s blog and my conversation with my grandmother happened on the very same day so I decided to read this book.
The novel is about Marina, an elderly woman who immigrated to the United States from Russia after World War II, and her family. Throughout the book, Marina slips away from her family in the present, to a specific time in her youth. She used to live in Leningrad during World War II. She lived with her aunt and uncle in the basement of the Hermitage Museum, Leningrad’s great art museum. This is where Marina goes – back to a time filled with art in the midst of starvation and death.

The people in Leningrad, including Marina, had hard time coping with cold, and starvation and they were obsessed about one thing. For Marina, it was memorizing the Hermitage as it was before they took all of the paintings down and shipped them to safety (!). As part of her mental tour of the museum, Marina also memorizes paintings – mostly of Madonnas – that had been hidden prior to Marina’s arrival.
Throughout the book, I found myself trying to find a way to bring Marina back to reality, to help her husband and daughter. The book was so well-written that I had the full perspective of Marina’s husband and daughter. How difficult it must be to have to care for a grown adult as if she were a toddler. If that wasn’t bad enough, to have this woman whom you love with all your heart not even recognize you. The scene at the wedding reception was especially heartbreaking.
Although the main theme of the book seem to be Marina’s past and the effects of her disease in her present, it was also a book of art and the meaning it carries. In my opinion, if you like art and architecture, the art content of the book will please you. Plus, I have a thing for books about World War II. For one reason or another, I end up liking all of them.

1 comment :

  1. Thanks so much for visiting my blog; yours is great. I love seeing the different titles, and covers of books I own or have read on your blog.

    Kite Runner was a favorite of mine and I hope to read The Madonnas of Leningrad soon.

    I started following your blog now!