Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Madonnas of Leningrad

Here's a book I really enjoyed. A magical mix of past and present (you know I like that kind of thing!), the past is 1941 and Marina is a tour guide at The Hermitage, the Russian museum and repository of countless works of art. Now, as the German army advances, Marina is helping to pack the artworks so that they may be taken away for safekeeping.

Soon the walls are full of empty frames but an old woman shows Marina the secret of remembering the paintings that were there -- so vividly that Marina can see the Madonnas that once adorned the walls.

In the present, the empty frames take on another significance as the elderly Marina begins the slow slide into Alzheimer's, losing her short term memory but filling the gaps with memories from long ago.

The book is sad, at times, but not gloomy. I am in awe of the beautiful writing and the artful connection of past and present.

(By the way -- I don't know where I got this book. I thought Josie had lent it to me but she denies all knowledge. Was it a Christmas gift I've managed to forget about? A loan from someone else? If anyone out there can clear up the mystery, I'd be oh so grateful. A mind is a terrible thing to lose . . .)
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Nancy M. said...

Vicki, I want to thank you for leading me to the Ron Rash books. I read Serena first and then went to Malaprops to get The World Made Straight amd, you guessed it - I ended up also getting One Foot in Eden and Saints at the River. I'm now reading the last one - The World Made Straight. The young lady who helped me at Malaprops spoke highly of you - and we both agreed that we are waiting patiently (mostly) for Miss Birdie!!!

Vicki Lane said...

They really are terrific books and especially for those of us with ties to the area.

I'm getting a good handle on the rewrite and am beginning to see the improvement!