Tuesday, April 5, 2016

*Review* Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: April 5, 2016
Pages: 497


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 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.
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.


I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For as long as I can remember, I have had a morbid fascination with WWII and the Holocaust. In grade school I devoured books about the Holocaust (Number the Stars, The Devil's Arithmetic, etc.) In high school I wrote research papers on concentration camps. This fascination means that I was predisposed to enjoy this book before I even started reading it, but it also means that I had some pretty high expectations (and my recent readings of The Nightingale and All the Light We Cannot See definitely heightened them.) If you enjoyed either of those two books though, you will likely enjoy Lilac Girls too.

The story rotates through the POVs of three women (an American, a Pole, and a German), and it's written a bit like a soap opera (when things start to get really exciting or nerve-wracking for one character, we switch to another POV) which kept me glued to the book because I needed to know what happened next. I liked getting to see the story from such diverse points of view.

Although I had a little trouble relating to Herta at first, I still mostly felt all of the characters emotions while reading. I was nervous, scared, angry and a whole slew of other things. 

Overall I give Lilac Girls 4 out of 5 stars because it readily kept my interest. - Katie 

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About the Author

Martha is a native New Englander but has become nomadic, splitting her time between New York City, Martha's Vineyard and Atlanta, Georgia. She worked as an advertising copywriter for many years, raised three wonderful children who are now mostly out of the nest and this is her first novel. When she is not pressuring her husband Michael to break down and agree to buy a puppy, she is hard at work on the prequel to Lilac Girls. You'll find more info about the true story behind Lilac Girls at her website: marthahallkelly.com and on the Pinterest account she is madly in love with.