BOOK REVIEW: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Title: Lilac Girls
Author: Martha Hall Kelly
Publication: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 497

SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)

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 have had this in my to be read pile for a little bit.  I have no clue where the book came from.  I have a tendency for hoarding books.  I give them away to a free library so they are not really multiplying in my house.  I am sure at some point I will kick myself for doing that but I don’t really reread books.  Once I read it I am done with it.  Anywho……this book was one that I suggested for my book club because they wanted to do a historical fiction book.  They decided to pick it because it was rated higher than the other option and I am so glad they did. 

Caroline is a retired Broadway actress who now works as a liaison in the French Consulate in NYC.  She has taken to sending care packages to French Orphanages.  She falls in love with a French actor who returns home when Hitler seizes France.  Kasia is a Polish girl whose life is thrown upside down when she is arrested for working with the underground resistance on her second task and gets sent to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp with her mother and sister as they were also collateral damage to her arrest.   Herta is a female doctor in a male-dominated world in Nazi Germany.   She takes a job at Ravensbruck.  She is appalled by it all but slowly seems to fall into the ideals of the place.  These three women’s lives collide in ways that they never saw coming.  This book was incredibly powerful.  I spent several nights up way past when I should have been reading because I needed to read just one more chapter.  Since the book is broken up by “character chapters” it was easy for me to say oh just one more Kasia chapter I want to see what else happened to her.  I was shocked to find out that I had never heard of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. The fact that they used the women in the camp as test subject is just horrible.  To stick random objects into their body and allow gangrene to set in and then maybe or maybe not treat them with Sulfanomides to see what happened broke my heart. 

The author did amazing research into each of the real-life characters that actually existed outside of this book.   She wrote each of these character’s stories in such a way that people fell in love with them.  I want to know more about them.  I especially liked Kasia’s story.  I think it was because she was Polish.  My Maternal Great-Grandparents came over from Poland in I believe 1909. He came alone and all I could think was what if his family back home received the same treatment that Kasia and her family did.  What if my family was also sent to a Concentration Camp?  My heartfelt for those people that experienced that.  I didn’t like Herta at all.  At first, I felt sorry for her.  She took the job to help her family back home with money, but eventually, she began to buy into the ideals of Hitler and was a willing participant in it.  I am glad that Kasia got her revenge at the end. While Caroline plays a pivotal part in this story her storyline was not my favorite. I enjoyed it but found myself wondering when her chapter would be done.  I will say once she left NYC for Paris I enjoyed her parts more.  I have already added the second book in this series that is actually a prequel and takes place in the first World War to my Amazon Wish List and am watching the price like a hawk.  Go out and read this book.  


Pick up you copy of Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and check your local bookstore. Also make sure to add it to your To Reads list on Goodreads and leave feedback for the author when you are finished. You can check out more from author Martha Hall Kelly on her website HERE.

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