Madonnas of Leningrad

The Madonnas of Leningrad

by Debra Dean

I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean.

This dreamlike novel is set in both 1941 during the siege of Leningrad, and in the present, during the Alzheimer’s siege of the heroine’s mind. Marina is a  young museum guide at the Hermitage, and she loves two thing, the treasure trove of art on the walls and her fiancé Dmitri, who has gone to fight. The paintings have been removed, with the frames left in place as a promise for the future. As the city freezes and starves, Marina recreates the art in her mind, a memory palace that no bomb can touch. The memory palace is practically all that the elderly Marina has left, and it seems to be where she is most alive. The Madonnas of Leningrad is a beautiful story about the permanence of art and the fragility of memory. The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean. I’m Kim Alexander on Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.


I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean.

In 1941, the German army blockaded the city of Leningrad, and those who were trapped inside braved starvation and a freezing winter. Thousands lived in the basement of the Hermitage museum, living on tree bark and boiling glue for soup. The Madonnas of Leningrad is the story of Marina, a young guide who volunteers to help save the priceless artwork, while storing in her memory each painting, saving it in her mind. The story shifts in time to an elderly Marina, battling Alzheimer’s, but still keeping alive her memory of those works of art. This is a beautiful and very moving story of memory, art and how imagination can keep you alive when everything else is gone. The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean. I’m Kim Alexander on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.


I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean.

This beautiful, dreamlike novel takes place in the mind of an elderly Russian woman named Marina. As a girl, she was trapped alongside the population of Leningrad during the WWII siege. She lived in the basement of the Hermitage, struggling to save the artwork along with her own life. Marina saved those priceless paintings both in reality and in the safety of her imagination, building a memory palace to keep the art and her sanity safe. In the present, Marina’s battle is with Alzheimer’s, which strips away her recent life, but leaves intact the memory palace she built of that long-ago time. The artwork which helped her keep her humanity is now all that remains and can’t be destroyed by bombs or by disease. In her mind, the Madonnas are safe. The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean. I’m Kim Alexander on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.

A very worthy organization helping those with Alzheimers: http://alz.org/


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