Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

“But it’s fitting in a way – Father loved the fact that a lilac only blossoms after a harsh winter.” – Martha Hall Kelly, Lilac Girls

Book Review for Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly is one of the most unique takes I’ve ever read of WWII. In a post a few weeks back, we listed the best novels about Europe from that time period. This book deserves be added to that list. Based on the true story of New York socialite, Caroline Ferriday, this fictionalized account of the war is  told from three perspectives.

The novel alternates between Caroline in New York, Kasia, a polish prisoner, at Ravensbruck and Herta, the only female doctor at that same camp. Herta’s perspective, she was a real doctor at Ravensbruck,  was particularly fascinating to read. Her struggles to become a female doctor were interesting and as a result, allowed me to understand her character better. At the same time,  the author doesn’t hide her Nazi ideals or create false sympathy in Herta.  Hearing her thoughts left a deep impact since authors rarely write from the perspective of the Nazi party members. Herta’s experiments on Kasia (a made up character) are based on true accounts of the “rabbits” of Ravensbruck.  The experiments performed on the “rabbits” were incredibly hard scenes to get through. Thankfully, the author often put a Caroline chapter immediately after these scenes, most likely to give a mental break.

The Audible edition deeply enhanced this book. There were 3 different narrators which made slipping into the minds of the women seamless.  Tears came to my eye numerous times because of the emotions in the voice of Kasia’s narrator.

Ultimately the story is about the bonds all women share. I understand the hype around this one and I definitely recommend Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.

Did anyone else read this mesmerizing novel?

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall KellyLilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
Published by Random House Publishing Group on February 1st 2017
Pages: 512
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four-half-stars

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * For readers of The Nightingale and Sarah's Key, inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this remarkable debut novel reveals the power of unsung women to change history in their quest for love, freedom, and second chances.

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline's world is forever changed when Hitler's army invades Poland in September 1939--and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbr�ck, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents--from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland--as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

USA Today "New and Noteworthy" Book * LibraryReads Top Ten Pick

"Harrowing . . . Lilac illuminates."--People

"A compelling, page-turning narrative . . . Lilac Girls falls squarely into the groundbreaking category of fiction that re-examines history from a fresh, female point of view. It's smart, thoughtful and also just an old-fashioned good read."--Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"A powerful story for readers everywhere . . . Martha Hall Kelly has brought readers a firsthand glimpse into one of history's most frightening memories. A novel that brings to life what these women and many others suffered. . . . I was moved to tears."--San Francisco Book Review

"Extremely moving and memorable . . . This impressive debut should appeal strongly to historical fiction readers and to book clubs that adored Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale and Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See."--Library Journal (starred review)

"[A] compelling first novel . . . This is a page-turner demonstrating the tests and triumphs civilians faced during war, complemented by Kelly's vivid depiction of history and excellent characters."--Publishers Weekly

"Kelly vividly re-creates the world of Ravensbr�ck."--Kirkus Reviews

"Inspired by actual events and real people, Martha Hall Kelly has woven together the stories of three women during World War II that reveal the bravery, cowardice, and cruelty of those days. This is a part of history--women's history--that should never be forgotten."--Lisa See, New York Times bestselling author of China Dolls

"Profound, unsettling, and thoroughly . . . the best book I've read all year."--Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Review for Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

four-half-stars

2 thoughts on “Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

  1. Julie Chomiak says:

    Thanks for this book review! I was captivated by the different perspectives portrayed by Hall. Herta’s role was heart breaking, and something I had never really thought about. Keep the great reviews coming!

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