Lost Roses (Lilac Girls #2 or Caroline Ferriday #2) by Martha Hall Kelly is a novel based in part on the life of the real-life philanthropist Eliza Woolsey Ferriday. Eliza was the mother of Caroline Ferriday who is the focus of the first novel Lilac Girls. While Lilac Girls takes place during World War II, Lost Roses occurs during World War I and the fall of the Russian Czar. The third book, Sunflower Sisters, is about Caroline’s grandmother, Georgeanna Woolsey. She is a Union nurse who joins the war effort during the Civil War. This book will be released on March 31, 2021.
Eliza Woolsey spent a great amount of effort trying to help the White Russians who fled to America during World War I. She found places for the women to live and work, and also hosted many fundraisers in her New York apartment. In the novel Lost Roses, Eliza befriends a fictional Russian aristocrat named Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanov family. After meeting in Paris, they visit each other in New York, followed by a trip to Russia. Eliza must hurry back to the United States when World War I breaks out.
Sofya’s family flees from Petrograd (St. Petersburg) to their country estate during the war. There are many revolutionaries and criminals who want to destroy the Czar and all of his family and friends destroyed. Once in the country, Sofya hires, Varinka, the local fortune teller’s daughter, to be the caregiver for Sofya’s young son, Max. When Sofya’s family is captured and imprisoned in their own home, Varinka manages to escape with Max. Unfortunately, Varinka decides to make Max her own child and Sofya must embark on a dangerous journey to find them. Through the stories of Sofya and Varinka, we learn of what it was like to be both an aristocrat and a peasant during this turbulent time.
I listened to the Audible version of this book. I am so sorry I did. The actress/narrator for the character of Eliza Woolsey is shrill and melodramatic. Amazingly, her rendition made Eliza seem to be both self-centered and a conceited do-gooder. The other two narrators have pretty bad Russian accents, but at least they did not destroy the characters. I think I would have enjoyed this story more if I had read the book. 2-Stars for the narration, 4-Stars for the story.
And completely unrelated to this book, I wanted to share some of my pictures from my 2002 trip to St. Petersburg.