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The Madonnas of Leningrad

The Madonnas of Leningrad

Author(s): Debra Dean

Location(s): St Petersburg (Leningrad)

Genre(s): Fiction

Era(s): 1941

The Madonnas of Leningrad, the first novel by Seattle professor Debra Dean, is the story of Marina, a young museum docent who takes refuge in the Hermitage during the 1941 siege of Leningrad. The paintings and artifacts are gone, carefully packed and shipped out of reach of German bombs. On the advice of a babushka, an older woman on the museum staff, Marina builds a memory palace: a museum in her mind where each painting still hangs on the wall. The memory palace serves as Marina’s anchor and salvation, an exercise of imagination where she pictures a future for herself and the baby she is carrying. Of all the works in the famed collection, the paintings of Madonnas most inspire her. After the siege, Marina finds her beloved Dmitri in a German POW camp. They make their way to Seattle, where they raise two children who know little about their mother’s wartime experience.

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