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Extended Audio Sample The Madonnas of Leningrad, by Debra Dean Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (6,786 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Debra Dean Narrator: Yelena Shmulenson Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An unforgettable story of love, survival, and the power of imagination.”

    Isabel Allende, New York Times bestselling author

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jamie | 2/17/2014

    " Interesting story, especially if you like art. The main character is suffering from Alzheimer's and lives in her memories of working at the Hermitage during the siege of Stalingrad. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Hope | 1/26/2014

    " I liked this book. Some of the things I liked about it were the descriptive language as the author described the Hermitage (and the paintings) in Russia. I liked her style of writing, how she kept going back between past and present. What I didn't like was the way I never really got to know any of the characters in the book. Dimitri is not well represented, the relationship with the daughter is not developed enough. I went away feeling that the book was unfinished, with a lot of questions. I don't know if this was on purpose but I almost feel like there should be a sequel! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Julie Bell | 1/15/2014

    " Of course, as always I love the other culture aspect. The artistic setting was also very nice. I really liked the characters and wanted more! The contrast between the woman as young and in the war to her as elderly was well done. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Lori Mendenhall | 1/6/2014

    " I expected something so much more interesting... hiding the art of the Hermitage during the Nazi bombing sounded like it could be full of danger, suspense, and bravery! but the book really only used this as a backdrop. it as mostly about Alzheimers and also about how the Russians suffered during WWII. It was somewhat interesting and kept my attention enough but I was let down with the focus of the story. "

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About the Author

Debra Dean is the author of The Madonnas of Leningrad and Confessions of a Falling Woman. She lives in Miami and teaches in the creative writing program at Florida International University.