Lilac girls : a novel / Martha Hall Kelly.
Booklist Reviews 2016 May #2
*Starred Review* Spanning more than 20 years in the lives of 3 women and based on real people and events, Kelly's debut brings historical facts to startling life. As the narrative begins in 1939, Caroline Ferraday is a former Broadway actress and New York socialite who works with the French consulate, Herta Oberheuser is an ambitious young German doctor, and Kasia Kuzmerick is a 15-year-old Polish girl just getting involved with the resistance. As WWII progresses and Hitler's army proceeds through Europe, circumstances draw these women together. Caroline's relief work becomes more necessary. Herta secures a position as camp doctor at Ravensbrück, and Kasia is transported there with her mother and sister after her courier activities are reported. When the war ends and the camp is liberated, the story continues. Caroline pursues reparations and justice for the displaced, Herta is tried and convicted of war crimes, and Kasia attempts to return to a normal existence in now-Communist Poland, marrying and having a baby. Details of fundraising efforts, immigration issues, Reich politics, camp life, and interpersonal relationships make for a gripping read that lingers well after the book ends. Offer this to WWII aficionados, biography fans, and book clubs. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2016 April #1
During World War II Polish teenager Kasia Kuzmerick's decision to join the Resistance movement in her hometown results in her being exiled to the brutal Nazi concentration camp of Ravensbrück. There she becomes a victim of German doctor Herta Oberheuser, whose misguided patriotism and ambition lead her to perform horrific medical experiments on prisoners. Meanwhile, American socialite Caroline Ferriday spends the war sending relief overseas while experiencing the pain of a tortured love affair. The trauma of the conflict continues long after 1945 for all three women. It's apparent that Kelly, who was inspired by real events and people, has done the research necessary to tell this extraordinarily powerful historical story well. She vividly evokes not only the horrors of the gruesome experiments but also the painful realities of trying to survive them and the difficult search for justice and closure afterward. While Herta remains a bit enigmatic compared to the other two main characters, the overall story of the three women's intertwining lives is extremely moving and memorable. VERDICT This impressive debut should appeal strongly to historical fiction readers and to book clubs that adored works such as Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale and Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See. [Previewed in "Editors' Spring Picks," LJ 2/15/16; library and academic marketing.]—Mara Bandy, Champaign P.L., IL[Page 83]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
LJ Reviews 2019 January #1
This book club favorite follows the lives of three women connected to the Ravensbrück concentration camp: a Polish prisoner, a young Nazi doctor, and the wealthy American socialite who seeks to tell the world their story. (
PW Reviews 2016 February #3
Kelly's compelling first novel follows three women through the course of World War II and beyond. Caroline, a wealthy New Yorker, volunteers at the French consulate in New York, assisting refugees and raising funds. She meets Paul, a charming, married French actor, and sparks fly. Kasia, a young woman living in Poland during the Nazi invasion, works for the resistance until she is captured and sent to Ravensbruck, the women's concentration camp. There, she encounters Herta, a doctor hired to help execute inmates and perform experiments. Though her mother is Herta's trusted assistant, and even saved a camp guard's life, Kasia is operated on, joining the "Rabbits," inmates deformed from their surgeries. Meanwhile, Caroline loses touch with Paul when he returns to France to find his wife, and she finds herself tasked with keeping track of the growing concentration camp network for the consulate, learned from British intelligence. After the war, she travels to France to assist in locating missing people, where she learns about the Rabbits, including Kasia, who is struggling to let go of her anger and move on with her life. Despite some horrific scenes, 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. Agent: Alexandra Machinist, Curtis Brown. (Apr.)[Page ]. Copyright 2016 PWxyz LLC