The Madonnas of Leningrad

The Madonnas of Leningrad

by Debra Dean

Carol Sherman: Two books with similar themes – The Madonnas Of Leningrad by Debra Dean and Winter Garden by Kristan Hannah - I had just finished The Madonnas Of Leningrad this summer when a friend gave me Winter Garden. I liked them both very much. There is such similarity in some of the themes I thought I would include review of them together. Both involve the relationship between a Russian mother and her American daughter(s) in the mother’s latter years of life The daughters realize they do not know much about their mother’s life prior their childhood and spend time with her to learn more about their mom before it is too late. The story of a mother’s early years of hardship, life in wartime, romance and tragedy in Leningrad is revealed in both, one in storytelling, the other in flashback. Both books deal with Alzheimer symptoms. In one the mother has progressed in the disease, in the other the symptoms turn out to be related to dealings with her tragic past. From here I will diverge. I loved the descriptions of the Madonnas on display in the Hermitage and the interaction between Marina and Anya who taught her to build a ‘memory palace’ of the Hermitage paintings. In the winter garden you experience two sisters who come together after many years and learn much about themselves and their lives as the reconnect in their common bond of living through the death of their beloved father and taking care of their widowed mother. I think if you pick up either one you will be rewarded with a very good read.
Rating: *****

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