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Lilac Girls

 
 
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Pros


Detailed, realistic, & emotion-stirring

Cons


None.


Bottom Line

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.

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Posted June 6, 2016 by

 
Full Review
 
 

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 Ravensbrück, 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.

I actually debated whether I wanted to read this book or not. For many years I read and studied anything I could get my hands on that was written about the Holocaust of the Jewish people and others that the Nazi leaders of Germany deemed inferior to the ultimate race. My search was to find how this could happen and why human beings were capable of doing terrible things. I suppose I learned too much and had to eventually let go.

I have a feeling that the author, Martha Hall Kelly, became immersed in her own search that may have lasted for years when she started her journey toward the publication of her first novel, Lilac Girls. This detailed fictional account based on the New York socialite, Caroline Ferriday’s incredible true life is a powerful story. It is my opinion that this novel will be chosen to win literary awards. Kelly has taken such care to flesh out characters that touched my heart. This doesn’t seem to be just a story, but a passion, to shine a light upon the unbreakable spirit of women who are driven to go beyond what they ever imagined being called on to do.

This story feels real because it is also based upon the well-researched accounts of the experiments enacted upon “The Rabbits” of the Nazi concentration camp Ravensbruck. The three main characters, Caroline, Kasia and Herta, are very strong females in their very different worlds. The story is told by each of them as the author uses their voices, reactions and feelings rather than her own, which is something I appreciate.

This isn’t an easy story to read. There are tastefully written scenes which detail some of the horrific things that took place at Ravensbruck. I have read many, many details over the years yet Kelly shocked me with a couple of horrendous medical experimentations that I hadn’t learned of in the past. A sensitive reader will find some things disturbing in this novel. There are also adult situations and language that may bother some readers. The book carries on as each woman moves forward after the war is over. Kasia is one of my favorite characters. The Polish teenager makes decisions that sweep her up in a wave of incredible, powerful actions. Her journey throughout the book is going to stay with me for a long time. I won’t take away from the moving storyline by commenting further.

 


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