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Book Review: Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

Thank you Netgalley and Random House/Ballantine Books for an advanced digital copy of this book for review.

Lost Roses releases April 9, 2019.

I predict that this book is going to be very popular this spring. As the follow up to Martha Hall Kelly's incredibly popular historical fiction novel, Lilac Girls, it's sure to be a hit with historical fiction lovers. And overall, I really enjoyed this book too. I am a lover of historical fiction and this book while not without its shortcomings (more on that in a minute) is a beautifully written and researched account of human resilience and love. For the most part it's well paced, the writing is digestible and overall the book is one that I'll remember. It would have been nearly perfect five star read if not for one little thing.

I'm sure that I'm being a little nitpicky with this, but there's one thing about this book that's been nagging me since finishing it. At 448 pages, I can't help but think this was a little too long. It's a tri-narrative that could have easily been a dual narrative and I know this is going to be a very unpopular opinion, but this story could have been a dual narrative focusing only on Sofya and Varinka that would have been incredible. I read the author's note, I get that her intent was to feature Eliza Farriday - but in my opinion, Eliza was boring. Her chapters felt forced and while I understand that she has a pretty big role to play, everything she does could have been just as effective in the background of the story. I found myself skimming her chapters so much that I think they could have been cut out completely. I know it's pretty bold of me to suggest that the entire POV of a character be wiped out from a book, but her activities felt completely detached from the heart of the story, which was Sofya and Varinka's experience with the fall of Imperial Russia and the rise of the Bolshevik Revolution.

Where I found Eliza's storyline lagging and dull, Sofya's and Varinka's were fascinating. I was invested in both of them. One a socialite with royal bloodlines and the other a peasant girl who finds herself attached to the bloody Bolshevik revolution, their intersecting stories were captivating. I only wish that we would have had a little more detail on their respective journeys to Paris because I think it would have added some more tension to the storyline.

This book is definitely one that I would recommend to my friends who enjoy historical fiction. This book is well researched and written - and the parts set in Russia completely engrossing. And while I think it could easily have been a dual narrative, it's still a fantastic story. I think fans of Martha Hall Kelly will appreciate this as much as Lilac Girls.

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