Lost Roses: A Novel
by Martha Hall Kelly
Hardcover- $16.89

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The million-copy bestseller Lilac Girls introduced the real-life heroine Caroline Ferriday. Now Lost ...

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  ""Poor lost roses. Like us, I suppose."" by bmedvid (see profile) 02/01/19

I received a free advance copy of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

“ She nodded toward the plant on my nightstand, its two white buds now flowered. “Your rose.” She stood, leaned down, and breathed in its scent. “Mr Gardener’s antique.”
“When I went back to the house I found it in Agnessa’s ruined hothouse. Kept it alive since I left Russia.” …
“Poor lost roses. Like us, I suppose.”

Lost Roses follows the lives of three women, Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka, throughout the years 1914 – 1920 and the impact that World War I has on them. This novel is a prequel, of sorts, to Lilac Girls in that it focuses on the life of Eliza Ferriday, who is Caroline Ferriday’s mother. Caroline, the main heroine of Lilac Girls, appears as a young teenager in this novel. Like Lilac Girls, this novel is inspired by real and actual events. The format/structure of the two novels is similar in that the chapters alternate between the stories of the three main characters. The two novels also share a number of locales, including: the Ferriday’s Paris apartment, their summer home in South Hampton, their country home - The Hay, and their New York City apartment. Instead of the atrocities occurring in Germany, this story tells of the horrors befalling the upper class in Russia as Tsar Nicholas is overthrown.

Ms. Kelly continues to focus her stories on strong, formidable women. Sofya faces almost insurmountable hardships with grit and determination. The lost rose, referenced in the title, is very apropos of her journey. Eliza is a woman before her time. What she is able to accomplish as a widowed, society woman in NYC is admirable. This novel clearly shows that sacrificing, doing your Christian duty, and helping everyone is a not just preached but lived daily in the Ferriday family. The way the Ferriday’s rally to help Russian émigrés would provide book clubs considerable fodder for discussion, especially in light of current affairs in the US. I found Varinka to be an interesting, aggravating and maddening character. I thought her change from being oppressed to oppressor would also provide content for a lively discussion Hers was the story I found disappointing. I wished there had been more illumination of her story resolution, as well as Taras’ and Radimir’s story.

This is a well-researched historical novel. I quite enjoyed reading the Author’s Note and discovering the amount of studying and traveling that the author did in order to write this book. Her knowledge added an authenticity to the character’s voices as well as made both Paris and Russia come alive. Russia and its culture during the early 1900s almost become another character in this story. I found myself wanting to see pictures of the beadwork, crafts, linens, dolls, and fashions described in detail throughout the book.

Unlike Lilac Girls, this book started slowly. It did not fully grab my attention until about halfway through it. However, once it grabbed my attention, it was hard to put down. I read Lilac Girls first and loved it. In comparison, I did not like this book as much, but it was still a good story and I am glad I read it. If I had read this one first, I doubt I would have been disappointed at all. One does not need to read these two novels in any particular order. I will also be reading Kelly’s next novel, which continues the story of strong female characters in the Ferriday family.

  "Lost Roses" by Carolynr (see profile) 04/22/19

pre quel to the Lilac Girls...again historical fiction and based on real people. In the Lilac Girls, the major character was Caroline Ferriday. IN this book, she is a teenager and the major character is her mother Eliza Ferriday. Based on a true story about an American woman who was helping the white russians who immigrated to the US during and after WW I while at the same time trying to find her friend , who was Russian and a cousin to the Romanovs. Its an interesting book...not much excitement. But the history is the story. Similar to the first book in that there are three main female characters that you get to know. Its interesting to read and see how the characters change but the personalities are not portrayed very deeply or intensely , especially Varinka.

  "Another great book by Martha Hall Kelly" by [email protected] (see profile) 04/23/19

Eliza and Sofya are schoolmates who are now adults with their own families. Eliza, an American, lives in New York and Sofya, a Russian aristocrat, lives in St Petersburg with her family. The Russian Revolution and World War II is looming in 1914 when Eliza and Sofya last see each other. Varinka is a peasant girl trapped in a bizarre arrangement with her mother, father and her father's young apprentice who is newly returned from prison and involved with the Russian rebels.

These three women live through tragedy and loss over the next six years all the while trying to reach their final goals - Eliza to find Sofya and reconnect with her daughter, Sofya to find what is left of her family and Varinka to find freedom. It wasn't always pretty and some terrible things had to be done along the way but they make it the other side.

I loved this book. Much like Lilac Girls, I sympathized with all of the characters even when one was clearly not doing the right thing. The story started off slow for me, especially Eliza's story, but picked up midway and I couldn't put the book down after that.

Thanks to Netgalley for the advanced copy.

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