The Madonnas of Leningrad

A couple of months ago, I read a lovely review of The Madonnas of Leningrad on a friend’s blog (Lesley’s Book Nook), and knew I wanted to read this book. It seemed a perfect fit for Sarah G’s 2009 Art History Reading Challenge. Being snowbound last week, I couldn’t resist starting it, even though the challenge hasn’t officially started. I hope I’ll be forgiven for not having any self-control and starting the challenge early, but I’m so glad I did! It was a wonderful book to read while snowbound!

In Lesley’s review of the book, she mentioned that she wished she could have clicked on the names of each painting mentioned in the book, to look at the image as she went through the book. I felt exactly the same way, and decided to take the time to write down each reference as it came up in the book. Then, I looked up each one on the internet, and also spent a lot of time at the Hermitage Museum web site (where you can literally spend hours and hours looking at the paintings, the history of the museum itself, the story of the siege, the renovations after the war, etc.). I enjoyed the story very much, and loved that the modern day parts of the book were set in the very familiar Northwest. But I was completely transported by the art!

I decided that my review of this book should be a visual review, so I started putting together a slideshow of the art pieces Debra Dean referenced in her book. But I soon got overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of paintings she referenced, (I’ve already looked up 50 art pieces on the internet and there are even more on my list!) and didn’t really know how to manage the technology of my idea. So, I’ll leave the idea open for anyone who is more technology savvy and would be willing to put it together. It would be an incredibly beautiful slideshow to watch, and would add a tremendous depth of understanding of the book!!

So I’ll just leave you with my little Photoshop montage of some of the art work and photos I’ve enjoyed while reading this lovely book, and urge you to read it and experience the art!

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13 thoughts on “The Madonnas of Leningrad

  1. Amanda

    Great review! I loved that her book was packed with tons of paintings. I was lucky to read it as an e-book so I did spend a lot of time looking up the paintings.

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  2. Lezlie

    It has been hard to resist starting some of the 2009 Challenges early. I don’t blame you at all! πŸ™‚ This one is on my list for both the Art History Challenge and War Through The Generations. I can’t wait to get to it!

    Lezlie

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  3. Booklogged

    You added extra pleasure with your montage. The slide show is an awesome idea. I read this book a couple years ago and have kept it so I can read it again.

    Have a Happy New Year, Robin.

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  4. Les

    Great review! And thank you for the mention of mine. πŸ™‚

    I’d love to see a slide show of all the art, but understand the daunting task of putting such a project together. Thanks for sharing the montage, though. Makes me want to take another art history class!

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  5. Robin

    Thanks, Amanda. Reading it as an e-book sounds wonderful! I’ve never done that, and this would be the perfect book to read that way so that you could access the paintings as you go!

    Lezlie, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It will fit beautifully with both of those challenges. Take some time to look up the art as you go. It’s rich!

    Anna, it will be perfect for the War Through the Generations challenge. I hope you enjoy it.

    Maree, it could be “extra credit” for the challenge, or just an enjoyable read, separate from challenges. It reads fast, and it’s worth taking the time to look at the art work online and visit the Hermitage Museum web.

    Thanks, Booklogged. A very Happy New Year to you, too!

    Thanks, Les. It was your review that drew me to the book! And after reading it, I’d love to take some more art history classes, too!

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  6. Nymeth

    Thank you for the montage, Robin. I love the idea of a slide show, but wouldn’t know how to make one either. This books sound fascinating.

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  7. J.Danger

    What a great idea! I remember I tried to do that too, not to long ago. I made a list and I tried to add a link for all of the 100 things on my list. So exhausting. Plus, I don’t think anyone even noticed that they were linked! Oh well.

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  8. Anonymous

    Loved the story was full of art history during ww2. Loved the part when she referenced to remember something try and picture a museum where you can place each piece of memory in a large museum to store and access. Our book club will be doing this book this year. Thank you for your review.

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  9. Robin

    Thanks, Nymeth. It was her first novel, and I thought she did a really nice job on it. I thought her ideas about memory were very poignant, and I loved all the art in it.

    J.Danger, I’ll have to go back and find that post and click on each of the links! That was a lot of effort. I’ll make sure at least one person appreciates it!! πŸ™‚

    Thanks for stopping by, Anonymous! I loved the idea of the “memory palace,” too. It will be a nice book to do with your book club.

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  10. Kim

    This book is a great reason for an e-book, which I have but don’t use because I find it frustrating. I loved this book when I read it a couple of years ago. I was moved by how much love and sacrifice was given for beautiful works of art. I also appreciated seeing a different view of WWII, sometimes a novel with a more intimate view can make the horrors of the events feel more real than 100s of pages of facts (I like those too).

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  11. Julie Davis

    I WISH I’d had the forethought to write down all the works of art as I read….. alas.
    If you still have your list would you please post it? Perhaps I will put together that slideshow!!!!
    Thanks!

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