Lost Roses

Lost Roses

by Martha Hall Kelly

Overview: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.

Deanna Boe (06/23/19): This author wrote the book LILAC GIRLS in 2017 and it was extremely popular. I read the book but didn’t write a review so I can’t honestly remember just how I felt about it. I do know I have mixed emotions about this one. Kelly is covering an era of World War I that we possibly don’t know as much about since it is tied to the Russian Revolution. The subject matter she brings forth has great potential but I personally don’t feel she quite develops it adequately.

As usual we have the storyline jumping back and forth between three main characters: Eliza from New York, Sofya from Russia, and Varinka, the Russian maid of Sofya. Eliza and Sofya met several years ago in Paris and have remained friends ever since. Sofya has come to New York to visit with her friend and they are now going to Russia. Eliza is extremely excited about visiting this mysterious country of the Czars. It just so happens that Sofya is a cousin to the Romanovs which only adds to the intrigue of visiting this land of mystery. Unfortunately the Archduke of Austria is shot by a Serbian which propels the world into war, and Eliza must return quickly to the United States. All of this rapidly escalates the problems in Russia: the killing of the Czar, his family and the “Whites” fighting the “Reds” better known as the Bolshevik Revolution.

In the meantime Eliza’s husband dies and when she no longer receives her daily letter from Sofya she becomes extremely concerned for her welfare. Hearing about all that is happening in Russia and how many of the “White” Russians have fled to Paris she decides to also go to Paris and see if she can find Sofya or at least find out some information about her. Sofya and her family were one day away from fleeing their country estate when catastrophe happened and apparently all of her family was murdered while she had gone to accomplish some other task. Her baby maid Varinka, who had fallen in love with Sofya’s son, managed to save him. Sofya’s travel to Paris with her horse pulling her in a cart seemed a little far fetched, and her situation once she arrived in Paris also didn’t seem realistic. That held true with Varinka’s weird situation with the man who had murdered Sofya’s family.

I happen to love history. Unfortunately, all the research this author did to write this novel concerning this intriguing piece of Russian history just didn’t fascinate me the way she described it. If you have not read much about this era you probably would find this novel of interest but personally I would recommend WAR AND PEACE.
Rating: ***

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