Skip to main content

Lost Roses Bets On...

Lost Roses

April 2019

LOST ROSES is the eagerly awaited new novel from the author of LILAC GIRLS. This is a prequel as the protagonist is Eliza Ferriday, the mother of Caroline Ferriday, who readers came to know in Martha Hall Kelly’s much-talked-about debut. The kernel for the story came to Martha when she was researching LILAC GIRLS and saw a newspaper clipping about how Eliza had sold Russian handmade items from her swanky New York apartment to benefit White Russians who had fled Russia. You can see how Eliza influenced Caroline and made her into the strong women she became.

Once again, the story is told through the voices of three female characters, this time set during World War I. The book opens in the United States in 1914 before moving to Russia and then to Paris. Caroline makes a few brief cameos, but this story is Eliza’s to share. Besides Eliza, her friend Sofya Streshnayva, who is a cousin of the Romanovs, and Varinka, who is a kitchen worker, are the characters, each lending a perspective that moves the story forward.

The strife in St. Petersburg is not sugarcoated; tensions are high in the country, and there is definitely an intense disparity between the haves and the have nots. Sofya and her family flee to the country when it becomes dangerous to live in St. Petersburg. She keeps Eliza apprised of the tensions, and her American friend wonders what she can do on her behalf. Taras, a revolutionary, despises the bourgeois White Russians and all that they stand for. He is out for blood, and his relationship to Varinka spells danger for Sofya and those around her.

There are many pivotal moments in the story --- ones that will have readers turning pages to reach more.

LILAC GIRLS was my book group’s favorite book of the year last year. We had a chance to Skype with Martha after reading advance copies of LOST ROSES. During our conversation, Martha took us back to her early days of discovering the story of Caroline Ferriday when she visited the Bellamy-Ferriday House. She walked us through her writing and researching right up until the project that she is working on now, a book about the Civil War, which will be yet another prequel featuring a Ferriday relative.

I actually loved LOST ROSES even more than LILAC GIRLS. I think that the character of Herta in LILAC GIRLS made part of that book tough reading for me. Here the villain character feels more endearing.

For book clubs, perhaps read the books back to back, or even read LOST ROSES first and then move on to LILAC GIRLS. I am so looking forward to the Civil War book!

Lost Roses
by Martha Hall Kelly