During the fall and winter months of 1941, Marina, a tour guide at the Hermitage Museum, is packing the museums artwork and precious artifacts to make sure they aren't destroyed during the war. As each piece is packed away, she memorizes its location and the way it looks, making sure that someone remembers the museum as it was before the war in case it never returns to that way. Then she suffers through incredibly tough times, hiding during raids, staying in the cold on watch, and eating and sleeping very little.
Marina's past is interwoven with her present, a grandmother with Alzheimers who is losing threads with the present and keeps remembering the past. There are some similarities between past and present that keep the story moving along.
While I really enjoyed the concept of this book, and most of the execution, there were some things that nagged at me by the time I had finished. The first was I felt like the book wasn't developed completely. Characters floated in and out of the novel without much explanation even though some of them did have impact. The other thing that really bothered me was that the book just ended. What happened after the war? What happened after the wedding for Marina?
I wish these bits had been developed a bit more because that would have made the book just that much better.
First Line: "This way, please."