Monday 16 April 2018

Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls
Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and 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.

Stacey's review 5 of 5 stars

This was an important book for me- the telling of atrocities done to (mainly) Polish women at a German POW camp during WWII. This work was told from three women's viewpoints- two real and one a compilation of research done by the author of the women held in the camp. These women (the true heroes of the book) were nicknamed the rabbits because of the experimental surgeries done on their legs were left helpless after their release since Germany did not acknowledge Poland as a free state post- WWII since they were then taken over by communist Russia, therefore not made to make reparations to them for their cruel acts.

The real-life hero, Caroline Ferriday, was a socialite from Connecticut and NYC with French ties who spent her life volunteering for the French consulate, usually assisting orphaned children. Caroline is introduced to the plight of the rabbits through her mother and makes it her quest to help them rebuild their bodies and their lives.

The evil nasty villain, Herta Oberhauser, was the only female Nazi doctor at the camp, and the one who performed the experiments (amongst other heinous acts). I can't even speak of her because of the ugly feelings she dredges up- she was a horrible human.
I enjoyed the different perspectives and stories told from all sides as it really gave the reader a feel for what they all went through- and how the 'right' thing wasn't always universal. There were so many factors at play and experiences each had to endure that made them who they were.
The only reason I didn't give this 5 stars is that I am not a fan of many exclamation points throughout text when not included in the dialogue. I also hoped to learn outcomes of a few storylines that we did not get- felt a little unresolved.

This is a book I will think about for a very long time. The research was truly amazing. I am thrilled to live very close to the Bellamy- Ferriday House (Ct) where Caroline Ferriday lived and cannot wait to go on a tour, perhaps in late May when the lilacs are in full bloom.

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