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The Madonnas of Leningrad

A Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

“An extraordinary debut, a deeply lovely novel that evokes with uncommon deftness the terrible, heartbreaking beauty that is life in wartime. Like the glorious ghosts of the paintings in the Hermitage that lie at the heart of the story, Dean’s exquisite prose shimmers with a haunting glow, illuminating us to the notion that art itself is perhaps our most necessary nourishment. A superbly graceful novel.”  — Chang-Rae Lee, New York Times Bestselling author of Aloft and Native Speaker

Bit by bit, the ravages of age are eroding Marina's grip on the everyday. An elderly Russian woman now living in America, she cannot hold on to fresh memories—the details of her grown children's lives, the approaching wedding of her grandchild—yet her distant past is miraculously preserved in her mind's eye.

Vivid images of her youth in war-torn Leningrad arise unbidden, carrying her back to the terrible fall of 1941, when she was a tour guide at the Hermitage Museum and the German army's approach signaled the beginning of what would be a long, torturous siege on the city. As the people braved starvation, bitter cold, and a relentless German onslaught, Marina joined other staff members in removing the museum's priceless masterpieces for safekeeping, leaving the frames hanging empty on the walls to symbolize the artworks' eventual return. As the Luftwaffe's bombs pounded the proud, stricken city, Marina built a personal Hermitage in her mind—a refuge that would stay buried deep within her, until she needed it once more. . . .

From Publishers Weekly

Nov 21, 2005 – Russian emigr Marina Buriakov, 82, is preparing for her granddaughter's wedding near Seattle while fighting a losing battle against Alzheimer's. Stuggling to remember whom Katie is marrying (and indeed that there is to be a marriage at all), Marina does remember her youth as a Hermitage Museum docent as the siege of Leningrad began; it is into these memories that she disappears. After frantic packing, the Hermitage's collection is transported to a safe hiding place until the end of the war. The museum staff and their families remain, wintering (all 2,000 of them) in the Hermitage basement to avoid bombs and marauding soldiers. Marina, using the technique of a fellow docent, memorizes favorite Hermitage works; these memories, beautifully interspersed, are especially vibrant. Dean, making her debut, weaves Marina's past and present together effortlessly. The dialogue around Marina's forgetfulness is extremely well done, and the Hermitage material has depth. Although none of the characters emerges particularly vividly , memory, the hopes one pins on it and the letting go one must do around it all take on real poignancy, giving the story a satisfying fullness. (On sale Mar. 14)

Customer Reviews

I wish she'd gone deeper

The idea of the format of the book is unique - time hopping is commonplace now, and so readers can follow that along with the characters-health hop. Given the Importance of the theme - aging - this novel places on the protagonists illness, we appreciate the structure of the storytelling. But, in all aspects of the book, I think Dean was a bit lazy. She flirts with the difficult, never fully engaging it. The son's parentage, life after the war, how Marina feels about the illness, why Helen gives up her life, how Dimitri experienced the war, why the boys got a tour and what impact it had beyond those moments, what happened to the neighbors....

Why call it the madonnas, when mothers were not so significant to Marina?

Madonnas of Leningrad

I loved this book- it left some things unanswered- at least in my mind- what happened with the "god" who impregnated her- it just didn't seem to be explained or fit in to the story.Also it end too abruptly- like there was a dealine to get it on line and she just ended it.

Madonnas of Leningrad

Enjoyed it very much. Art, Russian history, Alzheimer's . Very interesting read once you accept the bouncing between past and present.

The Madonnas of Leningrad
View in iTunes
  • $10.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Oct 13, 2009
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books
  • Seller: HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS
  • Print Length: 256 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings