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83 Reviews
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read but disappointing ending.
I thought this was a much better book than her last 'The Alchemist's Daughter'. I really enjoyed reading this - it was a great story with good characterisation and sense of place. I don't know much about the Crimea war but the historical settings and facts all appeared to be well researched and also well explained without being too political. I found this a very easy book...
Published on 28 Jan. 2008 by A Reader

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars historical aspect very informative, disappointing ending.
Not my ususal choice of book to read, but heard it had good reviews. Great historical aspect of past times and characters. Good story, whilst i felt it quite predictable in places, but this may have part of the story to demonstrate the niavety of the main character. Disappointing ending fell flat. Worth a read for the historical aspect, but would not read a sequel.
Published on 15 April 2009 by gabriella luchini


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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written but very slow, 16 July 2008
By 
N F (Hertfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Rose Of Sebastopol (Paperback)
The story started out promisingly enough but moved at a snail's pace and towards the middle of the novel I was forcing myself to continue. I didn't really warm to the character of dull-as-ditchwater Mariella and I found her to be boring and aimless and even all her efforts in the midst of the action in Crimea did nothing to redeem her to me.

Having said that, I found some parts of the book to be beautifully written. Contrary to the opinion of most of the reviewers, the ending was the best part for me. I didn't feel that there was anything unanswered and I didn't want everything spelled out after that as it seemed obvious enough. The last chapter was particularly poignant and everything about Rosa's strongly passionate character seemed to fall into place in the last scene.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ran out of steam, 5 Mar. 2008
By 
F. Mulcahy "F Mulcahy" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Rose Of Sebastopol (Paperback)
I borrowed this book, having been told it "wasn't great" and was totally engrossed from the word go. The author paints a wonderful picture of Victorian life for upper/middle class ladies who were hemmed in by society's rules and expectations, and of the relationships within a family, all set against the background of the Crimean War (of which I knew next to nothing apart from The Charge of the Light Brigade & Florence Nightingale).

I really enjoyed the first 3 quarters but then it just... stopped! I felt like the author got bored so just wrapped it up quickly and stopped writing, without having reached any real end or outcome.

Very frustrating.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction by numbers, 19 May 2011
This review is from: The Rose Of Sebastopol (Paperback)
What a disappointment and what a wasted opportunity to write a good book about a fascinating period of history. I loved the cover... and that was about it. Every character was a stereotype. The writing was lazy, formulaic and barely ever strayed from modern dialogue - with an archaic word and/or pointless adjective thrown in every now and again, as the Author sought to remind us that this was in fact a great work and not the lacklustre pulp romance it really is. Honestly,don't waste your time!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For Men Must Work and Women Must Weep?, 1 Feb. 2009
This review is from: The Rose Of Sebastopol (Paperback)
I enjoy stories that are woven around fact and as I knew nothing of the Crimean War 'The Rose' also opened a new window for me. As well as the horrors of that war, Katherine McMahon also reminds us of the way it was for women in mid-19th century England - bound by society's conventions and expectations regarding the behaviour of a 'lady' and how this impacted on a woman's ability to be independent. Mariella embodies all that is acceptable, whilst her cousin: Rosa, with her free spirit and enquiring mind, was a woman born before her time. As the story unfolds, however, Mariella's life is turned upside down and she finds strengths and qualities in herself that may never have been revealed had it not been for Rosa and the war. A wonderful study of differing personalities and the effects that war had on the changing role of women within our society and the way being at war can change long held principles regarding love. Beautifully written and a book I found hard to put down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Glad I read it, not sure I'd read another, 13 Nov. 2012
This review is from: The Rose Of Sebastopol (Paperback)
Reviewers here seem pretty split between loving the characters or loving the detail of the plot. I fall into the latter. The historical sections about the build up to the war and then Mariella's time at the front I thought were wonderful - packed with detail but without lecturing you, and really bringing home the horror of the war - as well as the incongruity of the camp followers all still concerned with who knows who at home. I also liked the London context and the slow shift in women's roles. But I just could not warm to Rosa and I didn't much care about Mariella either. So, I'm really glad I read it, and she can certainly write (I didn't find it slow at all - in fact I fairly romped through the first three quarters of the book in one sitting, and only stopped to sleep). But for me, these characters weren't attention grabbing enough. Friends have recommended her other books so I might give those a try. If you liked those, I'm sure you'll like this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing ending., 5 Jun. 2008
By 
J. Shaw "Julz" (Hartlepool) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rose Of Sebastopol (Paperback)
Although I quite enjoyed this book from a historical and informative point of view, I too couldn't warm to Mariella and found her character to be a bit dull. I agree with the reviewer who said that they couldn't quite understand why someone as vivacious and passionate as Rosa could love Mariella quite so much. I felt that the book successfully highlighted the way that only the people who were on the battlefield could truly understand the futility and hopelessness of war; compared to the people back home who were seemingly concerned about such trivialities as where to place items of furniture in a home, for example. Also I agree that it did depict life for women in Victorian England and the start of emancipation of women. However, I was extremely disappointed in the ending and some of the detail was a bit too graphic for my taste, hence I felt myself skimming over some sections.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best historical novel I've read in years..., 13 Jun. 2008
By 
J. Squires "Motorpen" (Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rose Of Sebastopol (Paperback)
Interesting to read that some were disappointed with the 'weak' characterisation of Mariella; I thought she was a stand-out creation, an absolute legend, full of hidden layers and given plenty of space to develop. Her ladylike talent for needlework later becomes the most practical of tools for fighting the evils of the war in her own way, and it becomes a sort of personal meditation technique. Really nicely written with a light touch. "The Rose..."is a stunning historical novel, not afraid to confront the unromantic and brutal horrors of Victorian 'heroism', not afraid to deliver an unconventional ending... Though I have to agree with some of the other reviewers and add that, much to my shame, I found myself disappointed by the lack of a little bit of conventionality at the end. Overall though, a really worthwhile read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something much deeper masquerading as a romantic novel?, 26 Mar. 2008
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rose Of Sebastopol (Paperback)
Reading the reviews here quite a few people seem upset by the ending, or what seems to be perceived as a lack of ending, but I have to say I disagree. This isn't the conventional romantic historical story it seems to set itself out as, and that's indicative of the way the narrator changes and hence re-shapes her narrative. There is a sort of closure at the end, or rather two ends, both of which close with a stunning image, the reverse of each other and yet somehow intricately intertwined.

I won't write a plot summary as that's already been done, but this is an extremely accomplished novel, beautifully written, subtle, intelligent. I don't usually like any R&J recommendations and find them trite and instantly forgettable, but this book has stayed with me and resonates beyond what you would expect from the start.

Having said that, it's also just a good story: good characters, confident narrative, a plot-line that keeps you turning the pages. But it's a shame to respond to it just on that surface level. I think McMahon is an under-rated writer and have just ordered her other books having finished this one. Well recommended.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Envolving but..., 17 Jan. 2008
This review is from: The Rose Of Sebastopol (Paperback)
I really started to like this book having read a few historical novels recently. I was truly envolved in the lives of the Victorian women and the history of the time is plainly and descriptively written. The attention to detail is lovely and the characters are easy to form in the imagination.

The reason i have given this only three stars is that the ending was a bit of a let down and the characters unravelled towards the end leaving me unsatisfied as to a true solution. The added factor of the "Richard and Judy" book club style questions and discussions that are printed at the back of the book only added to my annoyance. But that was probably because I bought it in paperback and it is going to be reviewed by them. Gawd help us all!

Totally involving until you get to the end. And no, tapestry and needlework will not save the world!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rose amongst the thorns of war, 11 Aug. 2007
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This review is from: The Rose Of Sebastopol (Hardcover)
If you only read one historical novel this year, then make it The Rose of Sebastopol. Set during the Crimean War (1854/55) it is a first person narrative by Mariella Lingwood, an obedient daughter who spends her life sewing and writing letters to her fiance, Henry, a young surgeon caught up in the war. Events draw Mariella inexorably towards that war and what she finds there is both devastating on a grand and also on a personal level. I had heard of the battles - the Charge of the Light Brigade, Inkerman, Balaklava and Sebastopol - but I knew little about them. Without checking I cannot say how accurate the details are, but I cannot think that Ms McMahon could have written with such authority had she not researched the background most carefully. This is a most captivating story, one that will remain with me for a very long time. The rose? Ahh, you will have to read the story to find out!
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The Rose Of Sebastopol
The Rose Of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon (Paperback - 27 Dec. 2007)
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