The Madonnas of Leningrad
HarperCollins, $27.95 pb, 240pp
Debra Dean’s novel, The Madonnas of Leningrad, is an exploration of memory and demonstrates how that most mysterious of faculties can both save and fail us. Utilising parallel narratives, Dean tells the story of Marina, a guide at Leningrad’s Hermitage Museum in 1941. As the German army advances, Marina and her colleagues labour to remove and conceal precious works of art. Later, the employees of the Hermitage and their families live in the museum basement, and try to survive the harsh winter with limited provisions.