TAS's Reviews > Lost Roses

Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly
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really liked it

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.
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Reading Progress

July 19, 2019 – Shelved
July 19, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
July 23, 2019 – Started Reading
August 1, 2019 – Finished Reading

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