Lilac Girls

Lilac Girls

Large Print - 2017
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Manhattan, 1939. New York socialite Caroline Ferriday's biggest problem is resisting the advances of a married actor. Across the Atlantic, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish Catholic teenager, is affected when Germany declares war on Poland. As tensions rise, Caroline's interest in aiding the war effort in France grows; she hears about the dire situation at the Ravensbruck all-female concentration camp. Kasia's carefree youth is 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 converge in unprecedented ways.
Publisher: Waterville, Maine Thorndike Press, 2017.
Edition: Large print edition.
Copyright Date: ℗♭2016.
ISBN: 9781432839918
Characteristics: 705 pages (large print) ; 22 cm.


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This was debut novel by Martha Hall Kelly, and very well done. I enjoyed it from start to finish. It is based on the real life story of Caroline Ferriday, who was a Broadway actress, then became a liaison to the French consulate in New York. Ferriday was instrumental in bringing 35 survivors of Ravensbrück, the women's Nazi concentration camp in Germany, to the United States for medical care after the war. 'Lilac Girls' spins a historical, fictitious tale of how this unfolded. I would definitely recommend this one.

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.

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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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