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The Force of Memory: 'Madonnas of Leningrad'

It is 1941. The Nazis are about to lay siege to Leningrad, and the city's residents take refuge in the Hermitage museum.

There we meet Marina, a young museum worker whose story moves between Russia in World War II and the present, where she is about to attend her granddaughter's wedding in Seattle. The modern-day Marina has Alzheimer's disease and is lost in the memories of her past.

The Madonnas of Leningrad is the first novel by Debra Dean, who was once an actress in New York. She tells Liane Hansen what moved her to begin writing and what the book taught her about the precious quality of memories.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.