Lost Roses

Lost Roses

by Martha Hall Kelly

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The million-copy bestseller Lilac Girls introduced the real-life heroine Caroline Ferriday. Now Lost Roses, set a generation earlier and also inspired by true events, features Caroline’s mother, Eliza, and follows three equally indomitable women from St. Petersburg to Paris under the shadow of World War I.

“Not only a brilliant historical tale, but a love song to all the ways our friendships carry us through the worst of times.”Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

It is 1914, and the world has been on the brink of war so often, many New Yorkers treat the subject with only passing interest. Eliza Ferriday is thrilled to be traveling to St. Petersburg with Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanovs. The two met years ago one summer in Paris and became close confidantes. Now Eliza embarks on the trip of a lifetime, home with Sofya to see the splendors of Russia: the church with the interior covered in jeweled mosaics, the Rembrandts at the tsar’s Winter Palace, the famous ballet.

But when Austria declares war on Serbia and Russia’s imperial dynasty begins to fall, Eliza escapes back to America, while Sofya and her family flee to their country estate. In need of domestic help, they hire the local fortune-teller’s daughter, Varinka, unknowingly bringing intense danger into their household.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Eliza is doing her part to help the White Russian families find safety as they escape the revolution. But when Sofya’s letters suddenly stop coming, she fears the worst for her best friend. 

From the turbulent streets of St. Petersburg and aristocratic countryside estates to the avenues of Paris where a society of fallen Russian émigrés live to the mansions of Long Island, the lives of Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka will intersect in profound ways. In her newest powerful tale told through female-driven perspectives, Martha Hall Kelly celebrates the unbreakable bonds of women’s friendship, especially during the darkest days of history.

Praise for Lost Roses

“A charming and vividly rendered historical novel . . . Based on true events, this prequel to Lilac Girls transports.”People

“Inspired by true events, just like its predecessor, and just as well-researched, Lost Roses is a remarkable story and another testament to female strength. This sweeping epic will thrill and delight fans of Lilac Girls and readers of historical fiction alike.”—PopSugar

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524796389
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/09/2019
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 2,968
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Martha Hall Kelly is the New York Times bestselling author of Lilac Girls. She lives in Connecticut, where she spends her days filling legal pads with stories and reading World War II books. Lost Roses is her second novel.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1



It was a spring party like any other held in Southampton, with the usual games. Croquet. Badminton. Mild social cruelty. It took place at Mother’s house on Gin Lane, a sprawling white clapboard place surrounded by a swoop of tawny lawn, which eased down to meet the ocean. The Queen Anne cottage, known to most as Mitchell Cottage after Father’s people, stood with her sisters lined up along the treeless South Fork of Long Island, New York, like passengers on a ship deck facing out to sea.

If I paid more attention that day, maybe I could have predicted which of the boys who laughed over croquet wickets would soon die in the forests of Argonne or which women would exchange their ivory silk dresses for black crape. I wouldn’t have pointed to myself.

It was late May and too unseasonably cool near the ocean for a fete of any kind, but Mother insisted on sending our Russian friends, the Streshnayvas, off in style. I stood in the cool, wide living room at the back of the house. Like a steamship wheelhouse it provided the perfect view of the backyard through the picture window, the glass hazed with salt from the sea. It gave the scene a blurry look as guests drifted down the lawn to the dunes.

I felt two arms wrap around my waist and turned to find my eleven-­year-­old daughter, Caroline, already almost to my shoulder in height, her hair the color of summer hay and pulled back in a white ribbon. Her friend Betty Stockwell stood at her side, a complete opposite of Caroline, five inches shorter and already blossoming into a dark-­haired beauty. Though dressed in matching white dresses, they were as different as chalk and cheese.

Caroline held her arms fast around my waist. “We’re going to walk the beach. And Father says he’s sorry he dressed without your help this morning, but don’t deprive him of his Dubonnet.”

I smoothed one hand down her back. “Tell your father color-­blind men who insist on sneaking yellow socks into their wardrobes cannot be forgiven.”

Caroline smiled up at me. “You’re my favorite mother.”

She ran off across the lawn and down to the beach, past men who held on to their straw hats, their white flannel trousers flapping in the breeze. Ladies in canvas shoes and suits of cream linen over dainty lingerie shirtwaists turned their faces to the sun, back from places like Palm Beach, happy to feel northern breezes again. Mother’s suffragette friends, most outfitted in black taffeta and silk, lent dark contrast to the otherwise pale lawn, like strutting crows in golden flax.

Mother came and linked arms with me. “A bit chilly for a beach walk.” My seventy-­year-­old mother, Caroline Carson Woolsey Mitchell, referred to as “Carry” by her sisters, stood as tall as I did, six feet, a staunch New Englander sprung from ancient Yankee stock that had weathered as many heartaches as hurricanes.

“They’ll be fine, Mother.”

I squinted to see my Henry, Caroline, and Betty already walking down the beach, the skirt of Caroline’s white dress wind-­puffed, as if ready to fly her skyward.

“They have their shoes off?” Mother asked. “I do hope they come in soon.”

The wind stirred whitecaps on the ocean as the three walked, heads bowed.

Mother wrapped her arms warm about me. “What do they even talk about, Caroline and Henry?”

“Everything. Lost in their own world.”

The breeze grabbed Henry’s straw boater, leaving his auburn hair shining in the sun, and Caroline darted to pluck it from the surf.

“How lucky she is to have a father who dotes on her,” Mother said.

She was entirely right, as always. But would Caroline be up coughing again half the night from the sea air?

Henry waved from the beach, like a castaway stranded on a desert island.

I waved back. “Henry will burn with his fair skin.”

Mother waved to Henry. “The Irish are so delicate.”

“Half Irish, Mother.”

Mother patted my hand. “They’ll miss you.”

“I won’t be gone long.” Sofya and her family had been visiting from St. Petersburg for a month and I was due to travel back with them to St. Petersburg the next day.

“I do worry. Russia is so far. Saratoga is nice this time of year.”

“This may be my only chance to see Russia. The churches. The ballet—­”

“The starving peasants.”

“Keep your voice down, Mother.”

“They eliminated serfdom but the tsar’s poor are still enslaved.”

“I’ll go mad if I stay cooped up here. Caroline will be fine with Henry.”

“At least there’s no war on. For now.”

For those who read the papers thoroughly, reporters predicted conflict with Germany, but the world had been on the brink of war so many times, many New Yorkers treated the subject with only passing interest.

“Don’t worry, Mother.”

She hurried off and I stepped out onto the terrace, the salt wind in my hair, into a polite stew of conversation punctuated by great thuds of surf and the occasional knock of a croquet mallet. I pushed through the crowd, squeezing past smooth silks and cashmeres, in search of my friend Sofya.

Mother’s and Father’s friends split into two distinct camps. Though Father had been dead and gone for a few years, Mother still included his friends in any gathering. He was once head of the Republican Party for New York and his friends reflected that: fellow lawyers and their wives, financiers, and the occasional self-­made tycoon.

Mother’s friends were decidedly more lively: actors and painters, suffragettes of all shapes and sizes, and several members of the international set from far-­off places that Father’s friends only gossiped about: Nairobi. Bangkok. Massachusetts.

To find the Russian contingent, I simply listened for raised voices, since they were a refreshingly raucous bunch, prone to heated discussion in a mix of French, English, and their native tongue at any time of day. I passed the Streshnayvas’ physician, Dr. Vladimir Leonidovich Abushkin, a squat, balding man wearing a lynx coat over his morning suit, chest to chest with Mother’s physician, Dr. Forbes.

“I don’t care what they do in St. Petersburg,” Dr. Forbes said, his face drawn and heavily joweled from years of late-­night deathbed visits and baby deliveries. “If you want a healthy child born, Sofya should not be traveling. She needs bed rest and calcium.”

Dr. Abushkin threw back his head. “Ha. Calcium. We have two months before the birth. She’s sound as a roach.”

“But she is at high risk. Two miscarriages. Extended travel is risky.”

I found the Russians gathered on the far end of the back terrace, around my actor friends: silver-­haired E. H. Sothern, kneeling on bended knee, and his wife Julia Marlowe. Julia addressed them all from my bedroom window above as she and E.H. performed the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, one of their most famous.

“’Tis almost morning; I would have thee gone—­” Julia called out, one arm stretched over the crowd, my bedspread around her shoulders.

The Russians watched the little play, wearing serious expressions, while the rest of the party milled about, immune to the greatest American Shakespearean actor and actress of their day, having seen them perform often. One might ask how Julia and E.H. at forty-­eight and fifty-­four years old played the famously pubescent couple, but one only had to experience them onstage to be convinced of their talent.

Julia finished the scene to enthusiastic applause and Russian hurrahs from the Streshnayvas. They were a jolly group out there on the terrace. Ivan, the patriarch, cousin to tsar Nicholas II, stood and surveyed the pounding surf, his shirtsleeves fluttering. A kind, trim man with a certain European flair, Ivan had met Henry years ago when my husband was a young fur buyer for Poor Brothers Dry Goods and Ivan represented the Russian trade board.

Ivan’s second wife, the countess, stood with a decidedly pregnant Sofya and her soldier husband, Afon, and described at length how she sent her personal linen from Russia to Paris to be laundered.

Most guests were well-­mannered enough not to gaze openmouthed, but the aging Russian beauty was a sight to behold, dressed in last year’s French couture and festooned with sable stole, ropes of pearls, and diamonds the size of which had never been seen before the dinner hour in Southampton.

Sofya caught my eye, smiled, and raised an eyebrow. Pregnancy suited her; it left her with a respectable expectant figure, unlike my own before I delivered Caroline and looked as if I carried a Shetland pony.

The countess ignored the brewing fight between the doctors and pulled a housemaid aside. “Fetch me a soda water, would you, and do remember the ice?”

The maid rushed off and the countess lit one hand on Sofya’s shoulder. “You really must sit. Think of your miracle child and how long you’ve waited, dear. And do stop eating or Afon won’t touch you after the baby is born.”

Sofya shook off the countess’s arm. “Please, Agnessa, you’ve asked for two soda waters already and left them untouched.”

“Americans have ice cubes to spare, dear.”

Reading Group Guide

1. You meet three very different heroines in Lost Roses: Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka. Who did you identify with most and why?

2. Mother-daughter relationships play a vital role in Lost Roses. How did these relationships impact Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka’s lives? Compare Eliza’s mother to Varinka’s. Were they both good mothers? In what ways? How did Sofya’s stepmother, Agnessa, affect Sofya and Luba emotionally? How did their mother’s legacy play a continuing role in their lives?

3. Caroline Ferriday, the protagonist of Lilac Girls, is a teenager in Lost Roses. Eliza’s real-life relationship with her daughter Caroline evolves over the course of the book. What did you like/not like about their portrayal?

4. Luba, whose name symbolizes love, is a key character in Lost Roses. Did you feel she was an important character in the story? What do you think of the author’s decision to open and close the novel with Luba’s voice?

5. Sofya had to make some impossible choices in the novel—choosing to leave her family, and then her child, in order to try to save them. How did you feel about her decisions? Did you agree with them? Why or why not?

6. Varinka and Taras have a complicated relationship. Did you find it compelling? Do you believe she loved Max? Why or why not? Were you shocked by the twist in her ending?

7. How did you feel when Eliza had a second chance to experience love with Merrill? Did you believe in their friendship and then love affair?

8. Were you satisfied with Sofya and Cook’s reunion? How do you imagine their relationship evolved after the novel ended?

9. Is there a particular scene in Lost Roses that has stayed with you? What will you remember most about this novel?

10. Did you learn new things about this period in history? Do you plan to read more—fiction or nonfiction—about the Russian Revolution?

Customer Reviews

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Lost Roses 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 60 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its like 400 pages but it wasnt outstanding. Kind of predictable and long winded but an enjoyable read ovetall.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rhonda-Runner1 More than 1 year ago
This book started off slow at first but then all of a sudden it grabbed me and I did not want to put it down. The story begins in 1912 when Sofya and her sister Luba are spending time with Eliza Ferriday, Sofya's longtime friend and cousin while their father is honeymooning with their new stepmother, Agnessa. The story then moves to 1914 when the Russian Revolution begins. Each chapter features either Eliza, Sofya, or Varinka, a peasant girl who becomes nanny to Sofya's son Max, while the story travels between the United States, Russia and Paris. Numerous characters and subplots make this a fascinating read with the story ending in 1920. If you loved the Lilac Girls as I did, you will certainly love this book. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC of this wonderful book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terrific book! A must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rachel_Denise01 More than 1 year ago
Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly is honestly the best novel I have read so far this year. It is the prequel to Lilac Girls focussing on Caroline’s mother Eliza. The narrative switches between Eliza, Sofya a friend and relative of the last Tsar Nicholas II, and Varinka - a younger peasant female. Their lives are interwoven in the most delightfully fullfilling and harrowing ways. This book kept me engaged, brought tears to my eyes, and kept me on the edge of my seat. I will not give out any more, as the plot is too amazing to risk giving away. Ms. Kelly is an amazing author. Lilac Girls is a winner, and so is this piece of art. You have to read this, please! I give this 5/5.
MamaHendo 3 months ago
Set during WW1, "Lost Roses" follows three women Eliza (a New Yorker), Sofya (Eliza's best friend and relative to the Tsar) and Varinka (a young woman on the opposite end of the class spectrum working for Sofya's family as a nanny). All three women have suffered immeasurable losses throughout their lives but somehow the worst seems to lie ahead as the Bolsheviks begin to overthrow the Tsar and hunt down all Russians in his bloodline. The three women's lives slowly begin to merge together as they each press on towards Paris to escape danger and to rescue those they love most. It really is impossible to write much more without giving away any of the storyline and Martha Hall Kelly's words are too beautiful to spoil for a reader. The author's previous book, "Lilac Girls" was one of my Top 10 reads of 2018 and fans of the Historical Fiction genre should consider both of Martha Hall Kelly's books a must read.
HalKid2 3 months ago
This sequel to LILAC GIRLS is really a standalone novel. No need to read the first book first. Instead of continuing the story of Caroline Woolsey Ferriday's (protagonist of the first book), this one is a story from the life of Caroline's mother, Eliza Woolsey Ferriday. Like Caroline, Eliza is an actual historical figure -- both of them from a wealthy American family known for its formidable women and good works. Eliza's story centers around World War I and the Russian Revolution. Beginning in 1914, before the war begins, Eliza's close friendship with Russian aristocrat Sofya Streshnayva forms the foundation of the story. As it unfolds, the book is told from the perspectives of three women: • Philanthropist Eliza - and her efforts to help desperate Russian emigres, • Sofya - and her harrowing escape from war-torn Russia, with horrific accompanying losses, • Varinka - a Russian peasant, living on Sofya's estate, whose opportunities expand during the Russian Revolution. The novel spans the years between 1914-21. Some years the friends lose touch. Each suffers significant personal losses. Parts of the story take place in Paris and Connecticut -- both of which became refuges for many aristocrats or White Russians fleeing Russia. There's a glimpse of the savagery of both World War I and the Revolution in Russia. And you'll see all the ways in which war somewhat whimsically changes the fortunes of individuals and families. The book is often suspenseful, which makes it a reasonably compelling read. I can't say I enjoyed this one QUITE as much as LILAC GIRLS, though it's well-written and held my attention. Part of the reason may be the fact that I found the subject matter more interesting in the first book. The next novel in this series promises to be about Caroline's great-grandmother, Jane Eliza Newton Woolsey (another historic figure), who is known for both her abolitionist work during the Civil War and her efforts to establish the first nursing services in the US.
Anonymous 4 months ago
I read Lilac Girls and was looking forward to reading this one. It's just as phenomenal a work of historical fiction as Lilac Girls. It really helps one to visualize what went on during WWI, both in Russia and in America. It also continued to give you a glimpse into the wonderful Ferriday women. This time we learned more about Caroline’s mother Eliza. A very strong woman who never gave up on her friends, family and people who needed help. It also gave you insight into what really happened in Russia. I learned more about it than I ever remember from my world history class. Very well written. It kept me interested through the whole book. It was fantastic. I'm looking forward to her next novel.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Well developed characters
Anonymous 12 months ago
marquis784MA More than 1 year ago
Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly April 2019 Historical fiction Random House Publishing I received a digital copy of this ARC from NetGalley and Random House in exchange for an unbiased review. I am thrilled to be reviewing this new novel by Martha Hall Kelly. I absolutely loved her book The Lilac Girls and have often recommended it to others. The Lilac Girls featured a real-life heroine, Caroline Ferriday, during WWII. In Lost Roses, the author’s second novel, the story takes us back to WWI and Caroline’s mother, Eliza Woolsey Mitchell, during WWI. Again, Martha Hall Kelly delves deep into the history and people of the time period. She only scratched the surface it seems with her first novel, The Lilac Girls, revealing the remarkable story of Caroline Ferriday. It should come as no surprise that this remarkable woman was reared by a lineage of courageous women. Lost Roses is based on the research and history of Caroline’s mother, Eliza Woolsey Mitchell, a staunch abolitionist and philanthropist in NYC. She advocated and assisted the “White Russian” émigrés who were former Russian aristocrats who lost everything when the Bolsheviks seized power in 1918. This historical novel is well researched with many of the characters developed from the stories of actual people. Lost Roses occurs during 1914-1921 during WWI focused on life in United States, France and Russia as narrated by Eliza, Sofya and Varinka whose lives ultimately converge. A forever friendship was formed at Brillantmont School in the Swiss Alps when Eliza and Sofya meet. The distance of Eliza living in NYC/Paris and Sofya living in Russia does not prove to be an obstacle in their loyalty to each other. Sofya delivers her son Maxwell unexpectedly while visiting Eliza just prior to the social uprising in Russia. Once settled back in Russia, the family ultimately hire Varinka to assist with the child care of baby Max. Varinka lives with her ailing Mamka in a questionable living situation after her father dies and leaves Taras in charge. Taras soon reunited with an old cell mate, Vladi, from prison and become involved with looting and chaos of overthrowing the tzar. The three women’s lives eventually collide in devastating ways. The remarkable strength and courage of women to manage difficult life circumstances is explored. The decisions and choices people make have lasting effects on everyone. There are many unsavory and despicable characters who allow the brave to shine. It’s not a surprise that the author is already working on her third novel focusing on Eliza’s mother, Jane Newton Woolsey during the Civil War.
miareese More than 1 year ago
I'm glad I finally continued on with this story. I really struggle with Historical Fiction; usually, synopses will really intrigue me, but when I start reading I have trouble fully engaging in the stories. That wasn't the case for me this time. I surprised myself with how quickly I got through the story and how often I thought of it when I wasn't reading. I'd say give this a try, even if you aren't the biggest Historical Fiction fan. The writing is intriguing and descriptive. I liked getting a glimpse of what it may have been like in Russia for both the lower and upper classes during WWI.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This and Lilac Girls are excellent!
1st-Reader-of-stories More than 1 year ago
Lost Roses # NetGalley Martha Hall Kelly ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This was the first WW Historical Fictional novel that I have read in which the storyline reflected the war in Russia in 1916, 17 and 1918 and how it affected the Russians. It was nice to have that perspective for a change in reading. The book is broken into 3 strong women whose lives overlap. I did have a little bit of a hard time keeping up with the different characters as there were so many. The author has done a great deal of research on this book and it shows. If you like this period of history, you will like this book. I definitely will recommend this book to friends and family who like historical fiction. I rate it 4 stars. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy read of this book for an honest review of this book. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LGandhi More than 1 year ago
For me, this book is a 3.5 star rating. I absolutely loved Lilac Girls, couldn't put it down. It instantly grabbed me and held onto my heart so tight until the very end. Even after I was finished reading that book had a hold of my heart. So when I heard about Lost Rose's, I jumped at the chance to read it. Unfortunately this book did not have the same affect on me as Lilac Girls. Here is what I did like about the book - it is clearly obvious that Martha Hall Kelly did extensive research for this book. I really admire that in an author, and her research shines through in her writing. I loved that she highlighted again a very real and important aspect of the war that we don't neccesarily read about in history books. The characters are somewhat memorable, but it takes awhile for the book to get you there. Which leads me to what I didn't like about this book - it has a very slow start and takes too long to gain momentum and hold your attention. A little too long for me for the stories to meld together. Once you get there, you will want to know what happens to each of the characters in the end. On her first book the author successfully alternated chapters between the three main characters. She uses this set up again for Lost Rose's, but I don't feel it worked as well here. In some areas the story was very rushed and choppy. Overall, the story is a good one. And definitely one I think all historical fiction fans will like. Is it as good as Lilac Girls? In my opinion no. It's not until the 60% mark in the book that it becomes really interesting and moving. Having said all of that, the story is good, the author is extremely talented in her writing and this is a book I would recommend. But for my reasons above is why I rounded down to 3 stars. Had I been grabbed from the beginning, I would have rounded up. I will still jump at the chance to read anything by this author in the future. My thanks to Netgalley, Random House Publishing House - Ballantine Books, and Martha Hall Kelly for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Predictable plot. Unnecessarily prolonged prose only prolongs agony. Save your money.
BMedvid More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I found out that Martha Hall Kelly was writing this book and that it was a prequel to Lilac Girls, I couldn't wait to read it. Lilac Girls is one of my favorite reads, so I had high hopes for Lost Roses. Since Caroline was a main character in Lilac Girls, I looked forward to reading more about her mother, Eliza, and other Ferriday family members in this prequel. This is a World War I historical fiction novel following the lives of three main characters: Eliza, Sofya and Varinka. The timeline of the novel begins in 1912. Eliza and Sofya are best friends, living on two different continents, who come from privileged families with Sofya being a cousin to the Tsar. The two women are very close and face many hardship over the span of 9 years. After returning from a trip to St. Petersburg with Sofya and after Germany declares war on France, Eliza is determined to connect with her daughter after a devastating death and, by helping high society refugee women immigrating to the United States from Russia, hopes to find out information about the safety and well-being of her best friend from people that may have known Sofya. She stands up for herself and for those she befriends. In Russia, Sofya tries to protect her family and fights to get her son back after her family's country estate is overrun by former prisoners and then people from the village who feel they are due their keep from the wealthiest citizens of Russia. After Sofya's son is taken, Sofya shows an immense amount of strength during her fight to reunite with him. After she travels to Paris to find her son, she also helps out refugee women and children, many of them from high society, that find themselves struggling to care for their families while trying to avoid deportation back to a Russia that is no longer how they knew it to be. Varinka and her mom come from the poorly side of things and have a cruel arrangement with a man named Taras that was established prior to Varinka's father dying Each woman shows strength, courage, and resilience during their own hardships. I gave is book 4 stars. I don't read many novels that are focused on World War I as my genre is more World War II. That being said, I did not fall in love with it like I did Lilac Girls. The story line dragged on at times and I found I couldn't concentrate on the character or the event. I did like the parallel of how Eliza was helping/supporting refugee women in the United States while Sofya was helping/supporting refugee women in France and how that ended up being connected. I found it interesting how Eliza was supporting a "business" that was mistreating women. Meanwhile, the money from the goods sold that were made by those mistreated women were helping the Russian immigrants in New York. Maybe I read too much into that and that was not the case. I was surprised at how well these women of privilege could adapt to their situation. It was a little hard to believe that Sofya could last a year traveling by herself with only a horse and a cart from Russia to France. The storyline up until that point never really had her doing anything truly domestic, so the idea of her roughing it, providing for and protecting herself was hard to imagine. I do look forward to reading her next book focused on the same Ferriday family during the Civil War.
2851923 More than 1 year ago
This story is well written but it insults readers' intelligence in it's predictability.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a very gripping story. Must suspend your disbelief for part of it. But the history within the story was good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nycol More than 1 year ago
Lost Roses is a beautifully written work of historical fiction by Martha Hall Kelly. It’s the prequel to The Lilac Girls. The story is told from three points of view that followed friends, Eliza Ferriday (a New Yorker), and Sofya Streshnayva (from Russia) during turbulent war-torn times in Russia. The story also follows the story of Varinka who is interwoven within the paths of these two friends in epic ways. What a tale about staggering injustice, unwavering friendships, death, murder and the resilience of the human spirit even under the most unbearable of circumstances. Lost Roses will have you on the edge of your seat waiting to see how the story turns out. Great characterizations, well-developed characters, and brilliant prose all set to a heart-wrenching period of time where you’ll find yourself yelling at some characters and wanting to embrace others. Lost Roses is brilliantly done and an instant FAV! I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
NanceeMarchinowski More than 1 year ago
A prequel to the beautifully written Lilac Girls, Lost Roses is a deeply touching read as well. The story begins with Eliza Ferriday, mother of the main character in Lilac Girls. Her story and the tales of two other young women are described as WWI touches the lives of each of them. The book is told in the first person by the women who star in this novel, and their lives are interwoven through tragic circumstances. I wasn't at all disappointed in this segment of the series, and look forward to the next in the series, to focus upon the Woolsey women in the Civil War. Highly recommend!