The Rose Of Sebastopol

The Rose Of Sebastopol : A Richard and Judy Book Club Choice

3.58 (3,688 ratings by Goodreads)
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The Ukraine, Russia and the Crimea are taking centre stage in the world today but this spellbinding story of courage and love takes us back to the original Crimean war.

Russia, 1854: the Crimean War grinds on, and as the bitter winter draws near, the battlefield hospitals fill with dying men. In defiance of Florence Nightingale, Rosa Barr - young, headstrong and beautiful - travels to Balaklava, determined to save as many of the wounded as she can.

For Mariella Lingwood, Rosa's cousin, the war is contained within the pages of her scrapbook, in her London sewing circle, and in the letters she receives from Henry, her fiance, a celebrated surgeon who has also volunteered to work within the shadow of the guns.

When Henry falls ill and is sent to recuperate in Italy, Mariella impulsively decides she must go to him. But upon their arrival at his lodgings, she and her maid make a heartbreaking discovery: Rosa has disappeared.
Following the trail of her elusive and captivating cousin, Mariella's epic journey takes her from the domestic restraint of Victorian London to the ravaged landscape of the Crimea and the tragic city of Sebastopol. As she ventures deeper into the dark heart of the conflict, Mariella's ordered world begins to crumble and she finds she has much to learn about secrecy, faithfulness and love.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 134 x 201 x 27mm | 290g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0753823748
  • 9780753823743
  • 191,529

Review Text

This is the best kind of historical fiction with a searing climax and characters you really believe in DAILY MAIL
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Review quote

A heart-stopping tale of love and war during Queen Victoria's reign * WOMAN & HOME * Absorbing * MY WEEKLY * In her novel written with great attention to detail and obvious affection for her characters and the time period, Katharine McMahon has penned a deeply affecting piece of historical fiction. * HISTORICAL NOVELS REVIEW * McMahon is a talented writer whose twists will keep you turning pages * THE LADY * Katharine McMahon is a great storyteller -- Niamh Cusack McMahon combines a thriller writer's grip, pace and punch with the true novelist's depth and warmth of feeling * GUARDIAN * a heart-stopping tale of love and war during Queen Victoria's reign * WOMAN & HOME * absorbing * MY WEEKLY * In her novel writen with great attention to detail and obvious affection for her characters and the time period, Katharine McMahon has penned a deeply affecting piece of historical fiction. * HISTORICAL NOVELS REVIEW *
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About Katharine McMahon

Katharine McMahon is the author of ten novels, including The Alchemist's Daughter and The Crimson Rooms, that focus on astonishing women and their ability to find a voice and make a mark, even at times and in societies when they are risking everything. The Rose of Sebastopol was a Richard & Judy pick and a Sunday Times bestseller.
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Rating details

3,688 ratings
3.58 out of 5 stars
5 19% (684)
4 36% (1,342)
3 33% (1,201)
2 10% (360)
1 3% (101)

Our customer reviews

I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book. It is not something I would normally even pick up if I saw it in a bookshop. However, it is worth trying something new sometimes and I was not disappointed. The book is the story of two cousins Rosa and Mariella at the time of the Crimean War, two very different personalities. Rosa is quite headstrong and defiant while Mariella is timid and anxious. They meet as children and become best friends immediately. Rosa takes Mariella on adventures around her home, a large country estate in Derbyshire. When Rosa's stepfather dies about 10 years later, she and her mother come to London to live with Mariella's family. Mariella is being courted by her cousin by marriage, Henry Thewell, who is fast becoming an eminent doctor and surgeon. When the Crimean War begins, Henry goes off to help set up facilities for the wounded soldiers, and Rosa decides she wants to join the nurses who are working for Miss Florence Nightingale. Mariella stays at home, living with her parents and losing herself in her sewing. When she receives a letter that Henry is ill she decides to go to him in Italy where he is convalescing. She finds him in a state of delirium, and he begs her to find Rosa who has gone missing in the Crimea. Against her nature she goes. Mariella finds herself enduring all kinds of horrible conditions which at first she finds repulsive and sickening, but as time goes on she becomes somewhat desensitized to her surroundings and ends up mucking in with the nurses and helping the wounded and dying soldiers. She learns that Henry and Rosa met up here and some kind of liaison took place between them before Rosa disappeared, but no-one seems to know the true extent of this. Although heartbroken at their betrayal, she vows to find her cousin, and is helped by Rosa's step-brother Max Stukeley, a captain in the English Army, and her maid Nora. Although this book is historical fiction, it is written in a modern style, so the language is not too flowery and it was an easy read. Both Rosa and Mariella can be frustrating at times, but they are both good people. There is a love-triangle element to the story (almost a love-square at one point) with Mariella being a bit naive as to her position in this. It was interesting to see parallels between that time and modern times. Henry tries to change medical practices to slow the spread of infections in hospitals, and realises that cleanliness is the key. Rosa is an objector to the War and I would have thought in modern times she would be an anti-war protester on marches and in the 80's she would have been a Greenham Common woman. There is a conclusion to the story which I won't give away but there are also some loose ends which I would have liked followed up, to see what became of some of the characters after the War, but I guess there is a bit of fun in deciding that for more
by Donna Clerkin
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