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The Madonnas of Leningrad

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Promotional Information

/ Lead title / Includes PS Section A brilliant and moving debut novel about one woman's struggle to preserve an artistic heritage from the horrors and destruction of World War II, and the ensuing lifelong memories from this extraordinary experience. / Narrated by an elderly Alzheimer's sufferer, 'The Madonnas of Leningrad' is a stunning and deeply moving debut from the brilliant new literary sensation, Debra Dean. / Will appeal to fans of Sebastian Faulks and Tracey Chevalier. / Based on extensive research, 'The Madonnas of Leningrad' brings to life World War II for a generation unfamiliar with war-torn Russia. / Competition: Tracey Chevalier; Sebastian Faulks

About the Author

Debra Dean worked as an actor in the New York theatre for nearly a decade before opting for the life of a writer. She lives with her husband in Seattle, where she teaches literature and writing. This is her first novel.


'An unforgettable story of love, survival and the power of imagination in the most tragic circumstances. Elegant and poetic, the rare kind of book that you want to keep but you have to share.' Isabel Allende 'A luminescent debut! "The Madonnas of Leningrad" recalls Jonathan Franzen's "The Corrections" and deserves similar success. This is a novel that dares to be beautiful and fully succeeds.' Daily Mail 'The real achievement of Dean's novel lies beyond descriptions of Alzheimer's, sensitive and elegantly done though they are![Dean] has brought the siege of Leningrad to dramatic, desperate life!this breathtaking novel shows that epiphanies can take place anywhere.' Guardian 'A taut and boldly unsentimental tale, Dean's glistening debut plumbs the twin mysteries of memory and the imagination.' Observer 'An extraordinary debut, a deeply lovely novel that evokes with uncommon deftness the terrible, heartbreaking beauty that is life in wartime!Dean's exquisite prose shimmers with a haunting glow, illuminating us to the notion that art itself is perhaps our most necessary nourishment.' Chang-Rae Lee, New York Times Bestselling author of 'Aloft' 'Vibrant!Dean, making her debut, weaves Marina's past and present together effortlessly!Memory, the hopes one pins on it and the letting go one must do around it all take on real poignancy, giving the story a satisfying fullness.' Publishers Weekly 'As we shift back and forth between her vivid memories of that time and particularly of the artwork that she guarded with her life, and her present-day existence seen dimly through the veil of Alzheimer's, the tragedy of both her past and her present becomes apparent.' Sunday Business Post '"The Madonnas of Leningrad" recalls Jonathan Franzen's "The Corrections", and deserves similar success. This is a novel that dares to be beautiful - and fully succeeds. The suggestively-named Marina is a wonderful creation, and through her eyes we are invited to gaze again on the best of Rubens, Da Vinci and Rembrandt. Yet Dean's prose is anything but purple, a fact that makes this quiet yet resonant novel more impressive still.' Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail 'A beautifully painted debut that has 'book group' and 'Anthony Minghella' written all over it.' SHE 'Every once in a while a new book comes along with the power to halt you in your tracks -- "The Madonnas of Leningrad" is just such a book. Breathtaking and heartbreaking by turns. This is Dean's first novel and it is an accomplished debut.' Waterstones Books Quarterly

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