Lost Roses [Book Review]

February 22, 2019

Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

Lost Roses review

Roses Background Source: Canva

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW1 Era, Friendship, Russia

Thanks to #netgalley #randomhouse for my complimentary e ARC of #lostroses by Martha Hall Kelly upon my request. All opinions are my own. Pub Date: 4/9/2019.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

The story of a determined “difference maker”…

Fans of Lilac Girls will be interested in the prequel, Lost Roses, as it shares the story of Caroline Ferriday’s mother, Eliza. The story is told from three perspectives: Eliza Ferriday, a New York socialite; Sofya, a  Russian aristocrat and cousin to the Romanovs; and Varinka, a Russian peasant and fortune teller’s daughter. The story begins in 1914 when Sofya comes to the U.S. to visit her best friend, Eliza. Later when Eliza accompanies Sofya back to St. Petersburg, they find Russia on the brink of revolution. Unsettled by the conflict, Eliza escapes back to the U.S. Because her heart is with the Russian women, she creates a charity to help support women and children as they flee Russia. After some time when she hasn’t heard from Sofya, she becomes deeply concerned. Meanwhile in Russia, Sofya has hired a peasant girl, Varinka, to help with the household tasks but this decision brings additional danger. In a dramatic and tense conclusion, Eliza travels to Paris in search of Sofya while Sofya risks everything in Paris to find Varinka.

This prequel can be read as a stand alone.

My Thoughts:

Characters. As we learn of Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka, we experience life from three extremely different perspectives. The most obvious difference is that Eliza and Sofya come from privilege while Varinka is a peasant. Eliza and Sofya often use their privilege to care for others while Varinka is focused on survival. All three are strong and independent and willing to take risks to ensure their survival.

Writing. Martha Hall Kelly writes an engaging and well-researched story filled with fascinating characters, relevant historical details, danger, and vivid setting descriptions that describe Russia before the Revolution and the devastation after. As the author weaves together the stories of three interesting and different women, she takes us on a journey through privilege and poverty, beauty and violence, trust and betrayal, love and sacrifice, friendship and loss, and hope and despair. Through the reading of this story, I was completely transported to a different time and place. I felt the beginning was a slow start (some other reviewers have not noted this) and I reminded myself to trust the author and where she would take me. The latter half of the book moves at a fast and engaging pace and the conclusion is a page turner. Overall, the story is well written and structured.

Themes. Important themes include using our privilege to help others, using our life to make a difference in the world, loyalty, friendship, family, love, loss, taking risks, determination, charity, privilege/poverty, survival, and fortitude. Because of strong themes, this would make an excellent book club selection. It would be particularly interesting to discuss Varinka’s options and choices.

Favorite Quote:

Lost Roses quote

Recommended. I’m highly recommending Lost Roses for fans of well-written historical fiction, for readers of Lilac Girls, and for those who appreciate stories of determined and strong women who are difference makers. If you read Lilac Girls and found parts of it difficult and disturbing, you will want to know that Lost Roses is a gentler read. It can also be read as a stand alone. In Lost Roses, we find out that Caroline Ferriday (Lilac Girls) had an activist mother that modeled compassion and helped others. Furthermore, it’s exciting that the author is working on another prequel …. a prequel to Lost Roses! I’m sure we’ll learn that women pass down these traits in families from generation to generation. I encourage you to place Lost Roses on your spring TBR! Pub Date: April 9, 2019.

Find my brief Goodreads review of Lilac Girls here.

My Rating for Lost Roses: 5 Stars


Lost Roses

Lost Roses Information Here

Meet the Author, Martha Hall Kelly

Martha Hall KellyMartha is a native New Englander who lives in Connecticut and Martha’s Vineyard. She worked as an advertising copywriter for many years, raised three wonderful children who are now mostly out of the nest and Lilac Girls is her first novel. She has been hard at work on the prequel to Lilac Girls, Lost Roses, which features Caroline’s mother Eliza Ferriday and her fight to save a group of Russian women, former aristocrats who lost everything in the Russian Revolution. Lost Roses publishes April 9, 2019. You’ll find more info about both books on Martha’s website: http://www.marthahallkelly.com and on Pinterest.

Let’s Discuss

Have you read Lilac Girls? If you read it and thought it was too intense, I want to assure you that Lost Roses is engaging but an emotionally easier read. I’m thinking ahead and considering that Lost Roses might be an ideal gift for Mother’s Day if the person you’re gifting likes histfic.

Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

Looking Ahead:

Look for a review of The Beautiful Strangers by Camille Di Maio in the next few days…..as well as my February Wrap Up.

The Beautiful Strangers


The Secret Library Book Blog always has great weekly links! Please check out this reading resource!

I’ll be updating my Winter TBR as I read and review selections. So check back often!

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  1. I couldn’t finish reading Lilac Girls because of the glaring errors I found (related to Holocaust and Jewish things), but I can see that this would easily avoid those problems, so I’m interested. Thanks for this review.

    • Oh? That’s interesting to know. That would bother me too. I’d love to know what you think about Lost Roses when you read it! Thanks for commenting!

  2. Great review, Carol! And you answered my question as whether this one was a difficult a read as Lilac Girls, which is liked but found hard at times. I’ve had Lost Roses on my shelf for a while, but I think I’ll bump it up my TBR based on your review.

    • Thanks Debi! I found it a little slow in tge beginning getting acquainted with the characters and relationships and settings…but once you settle in, it’s a fascinating story and a thrilling ending! You can see why Caroline was motivated to do what she did after reading about her mother!

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