Audience: Historical Fiction
Length: 432 pages
Author: Martha Hall Kelly
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: April 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads
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.
I don’t really cry during books, but I tend to tear up to those hard hitting ones. This would be the case here. Oh goodness, Kelly’s books just always hit me in the soul. One of the story lines really had my heart hurting and begging for those last few pages to give me a (what I would consider) hopeful ending. There’s not joyous, happy endings here. But I love that there is a semblance of a light at the end of a tunnel.
This was a powerful story that I immensely enjoyed. I loved that this was a World War 1 setting and took place all over the world. The three leading ladies had me cheering for their hope and rescue and also spitting mad at other times. I felt drawn into their lives and the paths they were being forced to walk.
I love that this is a “prequel” book and that the next book in this series will be even further back. The research and love that clearly went into this book is evident through the beautiful writing and remarkable stories. The storytelling is captivating and poignant. It’s a bit slower than Lilac Girls, but still holds that magnetism to make the pages move by.
Definitely recommend for those who love historical fiction.
Overall audience notes:
- Historical fiction [World War 1]
- Language: some
- Romance: kisses
- Violence: see Trigger Warnings
- Trigger warnings: sexual assault of a minor, multiple instances of sexual harassment, kidnapping, loss of loved ones, incest (half-brother sexually assaults his half-sister multiple times), murder, depictions of war, gun violence