The Madonnas of Leningrad: A Novel

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“An extraordinary debut, a deeply lovely novel that evokes with uncommon deftness the terrible, heartbreaking beauty that is life in wartime. Like the glorious ghosts of the paintings in the Hermitage that lie at the heart of the story, Dean’s exquisite prose shimmers with a haunting glow, illuminating us to the notion that art itself is perhaps our most necessary nourishment. A superbly graceful novel.”  — Chang-Rae Lee, New York Times Bestselling author of Aloft and Native Speaker

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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About the author

Debra Dean worked as an actor in New York theater for nearly a decade before opting for the life of a writer and teacher. She and her husband now live in Miami, where she teaches at the University at Miami. She is at work on her second novel.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Harper Collins
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Published on
Oct 13, 2009
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9780061747182
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Historical / General
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / War & Military
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Hidden Tapestry reveals the unforgettable story of Flemish American artist Jan Yoors—childhood vagabond, wartime Resistance fighter, and polyamorous New York bohemian. At the peak of his fame in the 1970s, Yoors’s photographs and vast tapestries inspired a dedicated following in his adopted Manhattan and earned him international acclaim. Though his intimate friends guessed the rough outline of his colorful life, Hidden Tapestry is first to detail his astonishing secrets.

At twelve, Jan’s life took an extraordinary and unexpected turn when, lured by stories of Gypsies, he wandered off with a group of Roma and continued to live on-and-off with them and with his own family for several years. As an adult in German-occupied France, Yoors joined the Resistance and persuaded his adoptive Roma family to fight alongside him. Defying repeated arrests and torture by the Gestapo, he worked first as a saboteur and later escorted Allied soldiers trapped behind German lines across the Pyrenees to freedom.

After the war, he married childhood friend Annabert van Wettum and embarked on his career as an artist. When a friend of Annabert’s, Marianne Citroen, modeled for Yoors, the two began an affair, which led the three to form a polyamorous family that would last for the rest of their lives. Moving to New York, the trio became part of the bohemian life of Greenwich Village in the 1950s.

Told in arresting detail by Debra Dean, best-selling author of The Madonnas of Leningrad, Yoors’s story is a luminous and inspiring account of resilience, resourcefulness, and love.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A powerfully imagined novel . . . [a] profoundly moving book that engages the heights and depths of human experience.”—Los Angeles Times

It is September 8, 1943, and fourteen-year-old Claudette Blum and her father are among the thousands of Jewish refugees scrambling over the Alps toward Italy, where they hope to find safety now that the Italians have broken from Germany and made a separate peace with the Allies. The Blums will soon discover that Italy is anything but peaceful, as it quickly becomes an open battleground for the Nazis, the Allies, Resistance fighters, Jews in hiding, and ordinary Italian civilians trying to survive.

Tracing the lives of a handful of fascinating characters—a charismatic Italian Resistance leader, a priest, an Italian rabbi’s family, a disillusioned German doctor—Mary Doria Russell tells the little-known story of the vast underground effort by Italian citizens who saved the lives of 43,000 Jews during the final phase of World War II. A Thread of Grace puts a human face on history.

Praise for A Thread of Grace

“An addictive page-turner . . . [Mary Doria] Russell has an astonishing story to tell—full of action, paced like a rapid-fire thriller, in tense, vivid scenes that move with cinematic verve.”—The Washington Post Book World

“Hauntingly beautiful, utterly unforgettable.”—San Francisco Chronicle 

“Rich . . . Based on the heroism of ordinary people, [A Thread of Grace] packs an emotional punch.”—People 

“[A] deeply felt and compellingly written book . . . The progress of each character’s life is marked or measured by acts of grace. . . . Russell is a smart, passionate and imaginative writer.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer 

“A feat of storytelling . . . an important book [that] needs to be widely read.”—Portland Oregonian

“Mary Doria Russell’s fans (and aren’t we all?) will rejoice to see her new novel on the shelves. A Thread of Grace is as ambitious, beautiful, tense, and transforming as any of us could have hoped.”—Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club

“A story of love and war, A Thread of Grace speaks to the resilience and beauty of the human spirit in the midst of unimaginable horror. It is, unquestionably, a literary triumph.”—David Morrell, author of The Brotherhood of the Rose and First Blood
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