Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)
Historical fiction is a very popular genre, and one of the most popular time periods is World War II. While there are many great World War II historical fiction books, like The Nightingale and All the Light We Cannot See, I was looking forward to a historical fiction book set in a different time period. Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly was just what I was looking for. While it takes place during World War I, which I admit isn’t too far away from World War II; it really is a different world and time period.
Technically Lost Roses is the prequel to Martha Hall Kelly’s first novel, Lilac Girls, but it definitely stands on its own. This book follows three women, Eliza Ferriday (the mother of one of the protagonist’s in Lilac Girls), Sofya Streshnayva (a cousin of the Romanovs), and Varinka (a fortune-teller’s daughter) as they navigate the trials and tribulations of World War I, from New York, St. Petersburg, and Paris.
Eliza and Sofya are best friends, after meeting in Paris one summer. Eliza travels with Sofya to visit the splendors of Russia. War is on the horizon. Eliza goes back to her family in America while Sofya and her family flee to their country estate, where they hire the Varinka, who brings intense danger to their household. Eliza tries to help the White Russian families in New York, but when Sofya’s letters stop coming, she becomes bound and determined to find her best friend.
The lives of these three women intersect in powerful ways. Inspired by true events, this novel celebrates the bonds of friendship during dark days of despair.
Located in Adult Fiction (FIC KELLY)