Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly
“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.”
I was very excited to read Lost Roses, which is the prequel to Martha Hall Kelly’s novel Lilac Girls. Lilac Girls is one of my favorite historical fiction books I have ever read. I haven’t read a lot of fiction about World War I so I was interested to learn more about this important time in history.
I am not sure if my expectations were so high from my experience with her previous novel, but I had a hard time connecting with the characters in Lost Roses. Some of the storylines seemed somewhat rushed and other parts of this book dragged a bit for me, especially at the beginning which made it harder to feel engaged with Kelly’s storytelling throughout the rest of her writing.
You can tell Kelly did an immense amount of research for this story and helped set the scenes so wonderfully with vivid details of the times and that was a big highlight of this book for me. If you enjoy historical fiction I definitely suggest checking this out one, it just didn’t wow me like Lilac Girls.
Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.