The Madonnas of Leningrad / Debra Dean

This book is quietly heart-wrenching. Not in the overt showing of what it was like to be trapped in a dying war-torn city, as Marina was. That particular sadness was woven into every page. But in the understated exploration of what it’s like to slowly lose yourself or your loved one to Alzheimer’s, Dean shines. Especially in the chapters narrated by Marina and her husband, there’s very little outright sadness, just a forced willingness to adapt to the new circumstances. The chapters with her children seem almost unwilling to acknowledge the problem at first, showing how easy it is to deny a mental illness in its early or even advanced stages. The balance between the Marina of the 1940s, trying to build her mind palace to remember the museum she loves so much, where every piece of art hung and every table stood, mixed in with the wedding of her grandson whose name she has forgotten, leaves you with a feeling you won’t soon forget. This book was read and very much appreciated at the February meeting of the Books in Bars Book Club at MEX restaurant, on Telegraph south of Maple. Please contact Adult Services for more information about this and other fantastic book clubs at Bloomfield Township Public Library.     Drew  3/17/2017

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