Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Book Review: Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

When I get entrenched in a good book, I don't want to put it down.  On the flip side, I don't want the story to end either.  I guess there's just just no pleasing me sometimes!  That's exactly how I felt when reading my latest purchase.

Last year I read the book Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.  It spiked my interest because it was the story of Caroline Ferriday.  Caroline was a NY philanthropist that dedicated her life to charity and helping the less fortunate.  Her most recognized work was her dedication to a group of ladies known as the Ravensbrück 'Rabbits'.  She was a descendant of the Woolseys who are a well known family and a big part of Long Island's history.  The book followed the life of Caroline Ferriday and two other characters inspired by real people.  Long story short - the book was absolutely fabulous!  I did not want to put it down.  Knowing this, you could imagine how excited I was to learn that Kelly wrote a prequel to Lilac Girls!  Just in case you couldn't imagine, I was really excited.  I eeped and all!

The prequel is titled Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly.
The book was read by Kathleen Gati, Tavia Gilbert, Karissa Vacker, and Catherine Taber.
The unabridged version was 15 hours and 21 minutes long.

historical fiction; book review lost roses; world war 1 novel; historical fiction picks; must read books of 2020

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Review:  Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

Lost Roses has quickly made its way to my top ten favorite books of all time.  It was the first novel I've read set during WWI and it's left me eager to learn more.  The book followed the story of three main characters whose story lines were all intertwined.  Kelly did a  f a b u l o u s  job flipping between each character's story.  The book flowed and was easy to follow.  My only complaint is the lingering cliffhangers when the story line shifts, although, they kept me intrigued.  The time period stretched from the onset of WW1 to the immediate aftermath of the war.  There was even an epilogue to tie the story up nicely for each and every character.  For an even bigger win, the author wraps up the novel with a brief explanation of fact and fiction.

The star of Lost Roses is Eliza Ferriday, mother to the well known Caroline Ferriday.  Yes, Caroline makes many appearances throughout the novel as a young child and teenager.  She was a powerful woman from a long line of distinguished, powerful people.  Through heartache and disaster, she became a beacon of light for the less fortunate in this novel.  Her story was well researched, written, and narrated.  Eliza Ferriday is of a character that we should all aspire to mimic.

Eliza's best friend and Russian royalty, is the next character, Sofya Streshnayva.  The reader was able to see Sofya at the height of her life in Russia.  Quickly after the reader's introduction, Sofya was deemed a White Russian and crucified.  Sofya was my favorite character.  I found myself cheering for her through every set back.  This character fought for her son, husband, sister, family, country, people, and even her horse.  I am ignorant to the politics of WW1 outside of this novel, but based on the story, Sofya was a true heroine.

The third character of Lost Roses is Varinka, a young Russian peasant with a hard life.  Of the three characters, her story was the most intriguing and difficult to comprehend.  Without giving away any spoilers, she was a victim to hostile situations including persistent domestic abuse.  Her circumstances made me as the reader want to sympathize with her and excuse her for her wrongdoings.  Unfortunately, I could not.  I was sickened by this character and thought of her as the enemy.  It's rare that I withhold hatred for a fictional character, but I really REALLY disliked her.  Her mother was a gifted fortune teller and a genuinely good woman.  It was interesting to see a child grow into a victim of circumstance despite a good parent present.

The story of the three characters intertwined perfectly throughout Lost Roses.  Their story lines allowed the reader to understand WW1 from different perspectives.  It also left me with lingering thoughts around parenting despite unfortunate circumstances.  Oh, and it also validated that I'm a huge fan of Martha Hall Kelly and Kathleen Gati.

I would highly recommend Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly.

After reading both books, I would still recommend reading Lilac Girls first.
This book set up the reader for small Easter eggs that can be found in the prequel.

You can check out Lost Roses by clicking here.

Have you read Lost Roses?


  1. I usually cringe from the American books written about Russians as they tend to be tragically negatively biased and filled with brainwashing propaganda. Hope this one isn't like that.

    1. I'm not sure about how historically accurate the novel was as I'm not familiar with WW1. The only thing I can say is that the book had absolutely nothing negative regarding Russia. It really was a great read and it made me interested in reading more about the war. Do you have any recommendations? I just finished my latest novel and am looking for a new read!

    2. Beatrice Colin, The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite. Masterful narrative style and a very interesting mystery. I translated it some ten years ago.

    3. Hmm, Amazon doesn't have it through Prime. Only with $15 shipping charges (Yikes). We are going to the library this weekend for a craft day with the kiddies. I'll check it out from there!

  2. Great when a prequel can hold up, usually they don't and are just a cash grab. Making you hate a character shows good writing too. As does making you want to read away, or listen, and not stop.

    1. It was based on the life of a real person. Their life was tragic, but made for a great read! The author began her research with Caroline Ferraday, but quickly realized it was the mother's life that would make for an even better story. There's nothing juicier than real life!

  3. I've seen Lilac Girls on a lot of lists, so I will have to check them both out. I just finished Commonwealth by Ann Patchett and it was good, but not great.

    1. It was really a GREAT story, but this was even better (which I didn't believe was possible). I definitely recommend both.

  4. Sounds wonderful Jax !! love this review!!

  5. The name rings a bell but I'm not sure why. I haven't read the books but I'm so glad you enjoyed it! (I'm terrible at history too!)


  6. I love it when I find a book that I can't put down. Both of these sound good. I don't usually hate a character, except for Anna Karenina. If that broad were a real person and I ran into her on the street, I'd throat punch her.

  7. I doubt if I'll get to Lost Roses, but your review is good. My TBR pile covers tables and entire bookcase shelves.


  8. Vampires is not at all like in the movies or books. Sure, I understand. You are young you have the whole world open to you. You can be anything that you choose if you apply yourself and try hard to work toward that goal. But being a Vampire is not what it seems like. It’s a life full of good, and amazing things. We are as human as you are.. It’s not what you are that counts, But how you choose to be. Do you want a life full of interesting things? Do you want to have power and influence over others? To be charming and desirable? To have wealth, health, and longevity, I can help you solve any problem you are having
    (1) If you want your ex back.
    (2) If you want to stop having bad dreams.
    (3) You want to be promoted in your office.
    (4) You want women/men to run after you.
    (5) If you want a child.
    (6) You want to be rich.
    (7) You want to tie your husband/wife to be yours forever.
    (8) If you need financial assistance.
    (9) If you want to stop your divorce.
    (10 If you want to divorce your husband.
    (11) If you want your wishes to be granted.

  9. I enjoyed this book just as much as “Lilac Girls” I managed to read it in two days. I can’t wait for the next one to come out it will be another prequel during the Civil War.


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