Thursday, May 30, 2019

Review: Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly (audio)

Title: Lost Roses
Author: Martha Hall Kelly
Series: Lilac Girls, #2 Prequel
Narrator: Kathleen Gati, Tavia Gilbert, Karissa Vacker, Catherine Taber
Published: April 2019, Random House Audio / Ballantine Books
Length: 15 hours 21 minutes / Hardcover 448 pages
Source: Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Print - Personal copy

The runaway bestseller Lilac Girls introduced the real-life heroine Caroline Ferriday. This sweeping new novel, set a generation earlier and also inspired by true events, features Caroline's mother, Eliza, and follows three equally indomitable women from St. Petersburg to Paris under the shadow of World War I.
It is 1914 and the world has been on the brink of war so many times, 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 Romanov's. 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. 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 fortuneteller'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 to the avenues of Paris and the society of fallen Russian emigre's who live there, the lives of Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka will intersect in profound ways, taking readers on a breathtaking ride through a momentous time in history.

My thoughts:  I was so glad that this book was selected as a Barnes and Noble book club selection. I would have read it anyway, but it just made me read it sooner, and having just read Lilac Girls, which I am glad I read first, though it doesn't really matter, I enjoyed this one just as much and was just as fascinated by.

Before I get into my review, let me just start by talking about the "order/series" of these books. Lilac Girls is about Caroline Ferriday. This book, which in some instances is being called a prequel, is about Caroline's mother, Eliza Ferriday. It takes place prior to the events happening in Lilac Girls. Having now read both books, it really doesn't matter which one you read first. They are completely separate stories. And the third book, untitled as of yet, will be set prior to Lost Roses, and is going to be about Caroline's grandmother. So in essence, Martha Hall Kelly is writing the history of these women - all real women - in backwards order. 

Once again, I found myself completely entranced by the story that Martha Hall Kelly weaves here, and somehow am flabbergasted that again, I knew nothing about the topic she selected here - the White Russian women and all that happened to them. I know very little about the Bolshevik Revolution, so perhaps that is why I never came across this before, but again, now I am desperate to know more...something I love about reading historical fiction - that spark that leaves you wanting to read more about a certain topic.

This story follows three strong, remarkable women: Eliza, Sofya and Varinka. Eliza is American and comes from a privileged background. She is also Caroline's mother, who we meet in Lilac Girls. Sofya and Varinka are both Russian and their stories are captivating, yet will break your heart. Just as in Lilac Girls with the alternating view points, the story would often switch just at a time when something would happen, leaving us to wait until we got back to that character...these little cliffhangers really hook you and keep you waiting with baited breath.

This story is one where you can really get involved in and lose track of time. I found myself invested in all of the major characters and what they were going through. I was sad to see the book end, but am excited that there will be another one coming soon. Martha Hall Kelly truly has a way of storytelling, of pulling you into her book and not letting go. I will be counting the days until her next book is available!

Audio thoughts: Once again, I did a combination of print and audio and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I find that with longer books/audios, it helps to get through a bit faster. This one also had a good cast, with different narrators for each of the main characters. They each had good accents, especially those who did the Russian characters and used just the right amount of emotion when needed. 


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