The Rose of Sebastopol
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The Rose of Sebastopol

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  2,092 ratings  ·  279 reviews
The #1 international bestseller about love, war and betrayal from the author of The Alchemist's Daughter

In 1854, adventurous Rosa Barr travels to the Crimean battlefield with Florence Nightingale's nursing corps. For Mariella Lingwood, Rosa's cousin, the war is contained within the letters she receives from her fiancé, Henry, a celebrated surgeon who also has volunteered...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by Berkley Trade (first published January 1st 2007)
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I liked this book more than I thought I would, if I'm honest. Primarily I enjoyed the fact that the heroine, Mariella, is incredibly unlikeable. She is a perfect picture of someone who doesn't realize at all her own ignorance and so has no problem behaving appallingly and petulantly insisting that her position in society gives her a pass. I also thoroughly enjoyed that she is a stereotypically weak woman, or she has trained herself to be one (I think the latter is implied) in order to flatter me...more

It is the time of The Crimean War, and passionate though impetuous Rosa Barr abandons her stale London life to nurse the wounded. When Rosa vanishes, her cousin and our narrator, Mariella takes it upon herself to find her. Only Mariella is Rosa’s opposite; dutiful, loyal and dull. Mariella finds she is completely unprepared for life on the brink of battlefield. And as all the clues to Rosa’s disappearance point to Mariella’s fiancé, now mad with fever, Mariella is heartbroken. Forced to rise to...more
The Rose of Sebastopol is a fantastic read. Don't be fooled by those who can't read between the lines. The protagonist, Mariella, is one of those great unreliable narrators (Lockwood in Wuthering Heights) that you just love to tut at whilst you are reading. Enjoy her transformation. What McMahon does is depict Mariella's coming of age in a convincing way. Mariella is the archetypal Victorian lady; who happens to be thrown into the Crimean war. It's so engrossing that you will feel like you've pa...more
I've read several of Katharine McMahon's other books and enjoyed them very much. While the underlying story she created for these characters was interesting the telling of it just didn't work for me.

Once again that annoying tradition/habit/technique that authors are too likely to employ of taking us back and forth in time to reveal the past in proscribed amounts made the flow of the story stop-stutter.

I found myself repeatedly wanting to alternately shake and slap the protagonist, though she di...more
S. J. Bolton
Mariella, a young Victorian lady, spends her days sewing and writing to her surgeon fiancé, Henry, who has left England to serve in the Crimean War. Rosa, (as unlike her cousin Mariella in character as she is similar in appearance) also has ambitions to serve, as one of Florence Nightingale’s new breed of nurses. Moustache twirling lothario, Max (Rosa’s step brother) is a soldier (probably leading the charge of the Light Brigade, I forget the details) and appears to despise the Victorian primnes...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Without going off into spoilers, I have to say that the main thing that kept me from giving this book five stars was the ending. It left me saying "And then what happened," because it was so anticlimactic.

The plot concerns Mariella Lingwood, a well-to-do and very proper Victorian English lady, who leaves her family home in England to go to the Crimea -- not as one of Florence Nightingale's nurses, but find her missing cousin Rosa. Rosa has gone to the Crimea to nurse, but disappears without a tr...more
I loved this book. Really loved it. But what led to my enjoyment of it was the knowledge I already have regarding the Crimean War (thanks to author Emma Drummond). If you don't have a good working knowledge of this war, your enjoyment will fall far short of mine.

That said, the story revolves around Mariella and Rosa, two pampered cousins from England who, although close, couldn't be more different from each other. While Mariella conforms to the English ideal of a proper young woman and longs for...more
Marguerite Kaye
This is the second time I've read this and I enjoyed it even more than the first. At first, you have very little sympathy for the maleable Mariella, who seems to lack any personality or any desire other than to sew her way complacently through life. I wanted to give her a good shake. Her cousin Rosa by comparison is vibrant and instantly likeable. And yet very slowly and subtly your empathies switch. Rosa is selfish, overbearing, and Mariella is repressed, you wonder what she will do if she'll j...more
readinghearts (Lyn M)
Mar 03, 2010 readinghearts (Lyn M) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction readers
Recommended to readinghearts (Lyn M) by: random from library shelf
This book is set in both England and Russia during the time of the Crimean War. The central character is Mariella, a pampered English maiden from a "connected" family. This book caught my eye for a number of reasons. First, it is Historical Fiction, which is probably my favorite genre overall, second, it fit a category in a challenge that I was participating in (you had to pick a random HF book off of the library shelves) and third, the book jacket hinted the Miss Florence Nightingale made an ap...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Title: The Rose of Sebastopol
Author: Katharine McMahon

Genre: Historical Fiction

Love/Hate?: Love, ohmygod, love.
Rating: 5/5
Did you finish?: Yes. I couldn't stop reading!

One-sentence summary: Proper English woman, Mariella, goes to Crimea in search of her missing cousin Rosa.

Why did you get this book?: Frankly, because it was available in e-book form from the library at a moment when I was between books.

Do you like the cover?: Yes, the cover just grabs me.

First line from book: We arrived in Narni...more
Feb 03, 2008 Judy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like well-written historical fiction
This is an historical novel set during the Crimean War, about two women, cousins, one of whom goes to nurse at the front - I read the first chapter at the lovereading site and pre-ordered it from the library. I was especially interested to read a novel set in this period after reading Mary Seacole's autobiography.
I enjoyed the book but found the way it is written slightly confusing - it keeps jumping to and fro between several different periods in Mariella's life, so that you have to remember to...more
Feb 04, 2010 Debbie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nuanced histoical, historical mystery
Shelves: historical, mystery
"The Rose of Sebastopol" is a historical (with a bit of mystery) set mainly in 1844 and 1854-1855 in England, Italy, and the Crimea. If you like nuanced historical novels, you'll probably find this one a lovely read.

The historical details were expertly woven into the story background, bringing the society, setting, etc., vividly alive in my imagination. Yet the details served the story rather than being the point of the story. The level of detail given for the Crimea landscape made me wonder if...more
I have to admit I picked this book because I liked the cover. Not sure what that says about me. I loved the premise of the book. And of course, I'm a sucker for English 19th century books. I was quite pleased with this book. The characters are rich and I was eager to learn more about them as I devoured each chapter. I learned a lot about the Crimean war and as a result, I would like to do more reading on this time period and especially Florence Nightingale. I'm not a huge war book fan, but this...more
Mcmahon's novel had many wonderful elements. I enjoyed reading about the time period - England in the 1850's, during the Crimean War. I also enjoyed the author's decision to focus on Mariella, a well-behaved, well-to-do young woman with a pleasant home life, rather than the more obvious choice -her independent, outrageous cousin Rosa. I liked the book's set-up, and continued to find it interesting even after too many of the characters turned up in the middle of the war under circumstances that d...more
Jennifer Hughes
This is a tough one to review. I just finished it and I'm still processing it. Basically I had a hard time putting it down, but now that I'm done, I'm not satisfied.

The main conflict of the book is the disappearance of a character, and it was such a circuitous route to get to the climax. I found myself skimming and not caring about all the details because I just wanted to find out what happened to her.

The action in the novel switches back and forth in time and, while that technique CAN work, I...more
This would have had three stars were it not for the unsatisfactory ending. The last of the five parts was, overall, my favourite, but it felt as though it was leading up to a revelation or realisation or even twist and in the end there was nothing.

The first few parts are rather twee and ladylike and unfortunately the main protagonist (first person narrator) isn't very likeable. It's not really feasible that other characters would fall in love with her. Luckily she develops over the last couple...more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I admit, it started somewhat slow, but once it picked up, I wanted to devour it. Two female cousins, constrained by the expectations of Victorian England, find themselves in the midst of the Crimean War, one (Rosa) in order to help, and the other (Mariella) to find Rosa when she goes missing. The story is told in flashbacks, so it can be difficult to figure out what's happening if you don't pay attention to the chapter headings, but I had no trouble following alon...more
There were many things about this novel I enjoyed while there were other things that didn't quite work for me. Rosa and Mariella seemed a bit extreme to me and not entirely real. They were such opposites, Rosa fearless while Mariella never stepped a toe out of line. I was thrown in the beginning with the changes in time and place, often having to go back to see what had happened previously. It wasn't as bad the farther into the book I got. I think the character I was most rooting for was Max. I'...more
I found this quite informative and interesting, but I found the characters quite annoying and I didn't like the ending! Too abrupt and too many loose ends for my liking.

The setting is Victorian England and the Rose is cousin Rose. Is this impetuous young thing coming in between proper Mariella and her up and coming surgeon/dreamboat/fiance Henry Thewell? While Henry and Rose go off to be the hero doctor and valiant nurse in the Crimea, Mariella stays home and worries, sews, pays calls, listens to her parents, is the poster child for the well brought up Victorian young lady. After Henry becomes ill and is evacuated to Italy, Mariella takes her first step toward...more
Apparently this is a bestselling novel in the UK but it hasn't made it's mark here. For those of you who like 19th century romances, this is one for you. I was pleasantly surprised because there was a bit of mystery to it as well. I was a little disappointed in the ending because I wanted to see what happened to the characters afterward and felt like it ended pretty abruptly.

At a young age, main character Mariella, meets her cousin Rosa and quickly become best friends. Later, when they are olde...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The book follows Mariella a typically demure and naive girl from England in the mid 19th century as she leaves her ordered world and enters the chaotic Crimea.

The novel touches on lots of different subjects including unrequited love, forbidden love, the futility of war and medicine in the 19th century.

Unlike a lot of others I really liked the characer of Mariella who matures throughout the novel.I also loved the passionate Rosa who wanted to right the wrongs of the world single handedly but wh...more
Last year, I picked up this book at Heathrow airport, intending to read it on the way home. But there were two good movies that helped pass the time so the book stayed in my bag. Now, having finished the book in fairly short order - a sign of a good book to me - I am so glad I happened upon this author as I will read more of her books.

I enjoy historical fiction - especially from an author that has done her research. I also enjoy books about strong-willed women (Rosa) as well as women who appear...more
The author employs an interesting technique in having 3 different time periods (when Rosa and Mariella are children and first meet; right before the Crimean War, and then during the Crimean War), which in same cases probably could be really confusing but it worked well here (even with listening to the audiobook when I couldn't flip to the beginning of the chapter to double check the time period).
I liked Mariella as the narrator; Rosa, on the other hand, had the tendency to drive me up a wall, p...more
I liked Mariella quite a bit more at the end than I did at the beginning of this book. I couldn't really figure out what it was that Rosa loved so very much about her when they met as children, except perhaps that she was so isolated and Mariella just happened to be a person that was there to love. Early in the book she is so proper and obedient and ladylike that, other than her obsession with Henry, she hardly seems to have a personality! But through disappointment, adversity and being forced t...more
I've really enjoyed reading this book over the last few weeks - the characters were interesting and the setting of the Crimean War was something I've not had a lot of experience with (beyond The Charge of the Light Brigade') The quest for Rosa and the changes in Mariella's character were insightful and well written. The disturbing relationship that built up between Mariella and Matthew Stukely was uncomfortable, but I suppose added an extra level to the story -reminding us that disturbing events...more
Karin Bartimole
This was an entertaining historical novel that takes place during the Crimean war. Situations of conflict are present on every page - from women choosing traditional roles, to the seeds of women's liberation; wealth vs poverty; soldier vs men of means; and all is told through the unlikely Mariella, our reluctant heroine! She isn't the adventurous spirit that her cousin Rosa is, but like the tortoise and the hare, perhaps what is learned is that true courage and lasting change rises from steady,...more
Sue K
Hmm, expected so much more from this book. I found the characters lacked depth and the two heroines slightly annoying. I liked the premise of using the Crimea War as the background for the book and felt Katharine McMahon knew her history but I needed more answers. The ending of the book was also a disappointment as I felt that was a separate story of Rosa's sojourn in Sebastapol and how she met up with Mariella's fiance, Dr Thewell. There seemed to be a lot of hand-wringing and conscience findin...more
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Katharine McMahon is the author of 8 novels, including the bestselling The Rose of Sebastopol, which was a Richard and Judy pick for 2007.

She's always combined writing with some form of teaching - English and Drama in secondary schools, mentoring through the Arts Council Escalator scheme, or as a fellow of the Royal Literary Fund, supporting students in their writing.

Her great love, beyond writi...more
More about Katharine McMahon...
The Alchemist's Daughter The Crimson Rooms Footsteps Season of Light Confinement

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