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Saturday, April 6, 2019
3:36 pm edt
In high school we were taught
the Russian Bolsheviks were the good guys; the Romanovs, bad. Black and White; um, Red and White. Tsarist oppression of the
masses; financial hardships incurred during World War I; outlandish royal indulgences and suppression leading up to the 1917
Revolution. But what about the brutal mass assassinations of the Russian Royal family and the tragic cruelties, deprivations,
and wonton murders needlessly foisted upon the Russian aristocracy?
Lost Roses, Martha Hall Kelly’s second historical novel to be released this Tuesday, one group of White Russians, suffering
horrors at the hands of the Bolsheviks during the Great War, make it to the United States with the help of Eliza Ferriday.
You will recall her daughter is Caroline Ferriday, the historical heroine of Lilac Girls who aided women refugees
incarcerated and experimented on in Ravesbrünck during WWII. In the prequel to Lilac Girls, Eliza precedes her
daughter’s instinct for humanitarianism with her own intrepidly heroically unselfish acts of mercy. As these traits
run in the family, so they sparkle the pages of Kelly’s remarkably stunning second literary offering.
Kelly apparently “fell in love” with Eliza while researching Caroline’s
life. According to her Author’s Notes, it was “natural” to want to write a second story about the fascinating
Ferriday family. And fascinating this second read is, written with great compassion and wisdom. From descriptions and well-form
characters developed through first-hand observation – Kelly travelled extensively throughout Russia and France during
the research and writing of Lost Roses – we are swept back to 1914 when war in Europe has been threatened so
many times that New Yorkers are quite blasé about it… Eliza, as a matter of fact, dismisses the imminent possibility
of global conflict and cavalierly travels to St. Petersburg with Sofya Streshnayva, a Romanov cousin, whom she met in Paris
several years before...
The trip is relatively unremarkable until Austria
suddenly declares war on Serbia after the assassination of their crown prince. As the Russian Imperial dynasty starts to crumble,
Eliza is forced to escape back to America while Sofya and her family flee to their country estate. When the lives of Sofya
and her family are imperiled by their treacherous maid, Varinka, Eliza does her best to help them… Until Sofya’s
letters stop coming…
Kelly is not only a master of historical factual
nuances, she is also a masterful writer. Her words and phrases pop off the pages like brilliant fireflies on a hot summer’s
evening. She is crisp and bold in her descriptions and even more definitive and demanding when designing her characters. As
the author notes, all three major protagonists – Sofya, Eliza, and Vrinka – as well as the minor players, are
based upon real-life people whose lives are augmented by Kelly’s compelling literary fictionalizations.
Lost Roses is a moving, fast-paced, insightful novel, laced with the wisdom of a newly-seasoned
author. In an era of proliferated lies and suppressed realities, Kelly’s work powerfully rings true, dispels the myths
that all Russian aristocracy were heartless, and bedecks those that underwent untold terrors with the fears and foibles of
common (wo)men. And through telling the true story of one woman’s compassion for all (wo)mankind, Kelly reminds us that
we are all deserving of love, understanding, compassion, and oftentimes, unselfishly-given assistance… regardless of
who we are and whom others perceive us to be.
Enjoy the read!
J. McInerney, the host of this Literary Blog, is
an author, poet, and librettist. Her currently published works include a novel, a book of spiritual inspirations,
volumes of poetry, stories
for children (of all ages) and
a variety of children's musicals. Her titles include:
Colonial Theatre: A Novel
of Phoenixville during the Roarin' 20s
Phoenix Hose, Hook & Ladder: A Novel of
Phoenixville during World War I
Columbia Hotel: A Novel of Phoenixville during the Early
the Schuylkill Monster: A Novel of Phoenixville in 1978
Prisoner's Portrait: A Novel of Phoenxville during World War II
Rainbow in the Sky
Meditations for New Members
of Oreigh Ogglefont
The Basset Chronicles.
Cats of Nine Tales
Water: A Collection of Poems
Exodus Ending: A
Collection of More Spiritual Poems
We Three Kings
Beauty and the Beast
Peter, Wolf, and Red Riding
Originally from the New York metropolitan area, June currently lives near Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania with her constant and loving companions, FrankieBernard and Sebastian Cat. She
is currently working on her sixth novel.