Lilac Girls

Lilac Girls

A Novel

Book - 2016
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"Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this powerful debut novel reveals an incredible story of love, redemption, and terrible secrets that were hidden for decades. 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 Ravensbruck, 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. In Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly has crafted a remarkable novel of unsung women and their quest for love, freedom, and second chances. It is a story that will keep readers bonded with the characters, searching for the truth, until the final pages. Advance praise for Lilac Girls "Rich with historical detail and riveting to the end, Lilac Girls weaves the lives of three astonishing women into a story of extraordinary moral power set against the harrowing backdrop of Europe in thrall to Nazi Germany. Martha Hall Kelly moves effortlessly across physical and ethical battlegrounds, across the trajectory of a doomed wartime romance, across the territory of the soul. I can't remember the last time I read a novel that moved me so deeply."--Beatriz Williams, New York Times bestselling author of A Hundred Summers and The Secret Life of Violet Grant "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"--
"On a September day in Manhattan in 1939, twenty-something Caroline Ferriday is consumed by her efforts to secure the perfect boutonniere for an important French diplomat and resisting the romantic advances of a married actor. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish Catholic teenager, is nervously anticipating the changes that are sure to come since Germany has declared war on Poland. As tensions rise abroad - and in her personal life - Caroline's interest in aiding the war effort in France grows and she eventually comes to hear about the dire situation at the Ravensbruck all-female concentration camp. At the same time, Kasia's carefree youth is quickly slipping away, only to be replaced by a fervor for the Polish resistance movement. Through Ravensbruck - and the horrific atrocities taking place there told in part by an infamous German surgeon, Herta Oberheuser - the two women's lives will converge in unprecedented ways and a novel of redemption and hope emerges that is breathtaking in scope and depth"--
Publisher: New York :, Ballantine Books,, [2016]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781101883082
Branch Call Number: FICTION Kelly Martha 04/2016
Characteristics: 487 pages ;,25 cm


From Library Staff

Three women: a New York socialite, a German doctor, and a Polish teenager. Living completely different lives in different corners of the world during WWII. Until a series of twists and tuns pulls them all together. This read’s a page turner, inspired by real life.

August 1st book discussion!

August 7th discussion!

JCLMelodyMK Apr 05, 2017

Lilac girls reveals the hidden stories of the treatment of Polish ladies that were sent to an all female Nazi concentration camp called Ravensbruk, their efforts to survive and the atrocities visited upon them by doctors in the name of research.
It also follows the lives of three women whose li... Read More »

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Sep 02, 2020

Dear or dear. This book should be a part of every school curriculum for younger generation to know and remember what fascism is about. Based on real people and facts, this book is mind blowing. I researched the characters further - all information is available on the Internet - it’s unbelievable that those individuals belonged to the human race. Because they were not humans.

Jul 23, 2020

This follows 3 women starting in 1939 and goes through to the end of the 1950s during World War II. One woman is an American socialite who struggles romantically but raises money for victims in France. Another women is a young German doctor whose first job in the medical field is at a “reeducation camp for women” which is actually a job at a concentration camp doing experimental surgeries on the women. Another is a young girl who is caught an an Underground agent and is taken to be one of the doctors’ “rabbits” as an experiment. At one point during all of their stories I cringed for their pain, at other points I wanted to slap all of them (some more than others). This was a good read, a little confusing in the beginning but half way through once I had everything and everyone figured out, it read a lot smoother.

Feb 19, 2020

Enjoyed the book...well written.

Feb 01, 2020

Extremely well written. Very moving.

Jan 27, 2020

This was so good! I don't know why I waited so long to read it. I listened to the audiobook and it was easy to follow along even though it switched between 3 different women. I got to know the accents so I knew which woman's story I would be hearing about. I always love learning about WWII and the Holocaust. The more we know the better. This time I learned about the "rabbits" the women who were experimented on by the Nazi's. We also learned about a female doctor who did the surgeries and about a woman in New York working at the French Embassy trying to help with the war. This story is heartbreaking but also parts are uplifting how the women fight and support each other. They didn't give up. The author notes were also fascinating how she did her research and what she found. I knew about the rabbits but I hadn't read anything about them. Lilac Girls makes me want to learn more about the horrific surgeries and the women who endured them.

Sep 15, 2019

I'm always hesitant to pick up novels that occur during the height of WW2, especially if it deals heavily with the Holocaust. With so much love for this book, I couldn't resist and I'm really glad I didn't. This was an amazing depiction of a facet of the Holocaust that I had not heard about before. Using three major characters to tell the story was fascinating and amazingly well-written. While much of the characters' interactions were fiction, along with a few characters themselves, I felt the author still did the main story justice. The fictional accounts managed to elevate the story to a wider audience, without detracting from the facts. I never fail to learn something new about this time in history and I'm always intrigued to learn more. I know that this is in direct contradiction to my previous comment about being hesitant to read these types of books, but what can I say? History is fascinating and we can never learn enough.

Sep 14, 2019


Sep 10, 2019

I agree that the first part of the book was disorienting, but in the end that was the best way to write this story. The atrocities appalled me, but the darkness was juxtaposed with the best of our nature. Thank goodness!

Aug 06, 2019

Found this book hard to get into, but eventually it was interesting. I was unaware of the horrors that occurred in Poland during WWII. My main criticism is that the author chose to include a fictional romance for one of the main characters...totally unnecessary. Based on historical fact the story was captivating enough without that added distraction.

Jul 03, 2019

This novel moved me to tears. Captured the story through the perspective of three characters. Tremendously well written and brought to light the terrible cruelties and heartbreaking stories of lives forever changed by the horrors of the Second World War. Excellent author.

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Nov 30, 2017

“It’s just a thing, Kasia. Don’t waste your energy on the hate. That will kill you sure as anything. Focus on keeping your strength. You’re resourceful. Find a way to outsmart them.“ -Matka (pg. 161)

Jan 23, 2017

“But it’s fitting in a way - Father loved the fact that a lilac only blossoms after a harsh winter.” - p. 440


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