Friday, September 11, 2009

The Madonnas of Leningrad

I just finished reading "The Madonnas of Leningrad" by Debra Dean, 2006, Harper. It is the story -- or stories -- of Marina Buriakov. The primary story is of her life in Leningrad during World War II where she worked as a tour guide at the Hermitage Museum. It portrays her life as the German's approach signals the beginning of the war and all that transpires thereafter. The subplot involves Marina as a grandmother attending her granddaughters wedding. Marina has alzheimers that is waging another sort of war in her life. Both stories are depicted in great, painful detail. The book is well written but, as I said, painful. You ache for the youth who is doing her best to survive in impossible times. You weep for the elderly lady who, after going through all she went through before, has to keep fighting. It is almost a relief when the book ends. It isn't a long book and it is a fairly easy read given that it goes back and forth between the past and present with each chapter. It is a sad book. I would recommend it because it is well written but be forewarned that it produced much emotion.