- About the Book
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.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
LILAC GIRLS is truly an incredible novel, and I commend Kelly's bravery in sharing her characters' stories past the point where many authors would conclude. Even more incredible is Kelly's extensive author's note, which includes her discovery of Caroline, a woman she quickly recognized as an unsung hero. This is easily the most affecting book I have read about World War II and the Holocaust, and I recommend it to any reader.
As a literary work, Lilac Girls is uneven. Caroline's story is the most vividly told of the three... Kasia's story is the most gripping and disturbing, although as a character Kasia is not as well-developed as Caroline. The Herta story is the weakest of the three; while it made sense for Kelly to include her so readers could learn more about the Ravensbrück camp atrocities, her character is the least explored. I also found it odd that the novel started with Caroline but ended with Kasia.... But no matter. This is the sort of historical fiction-meets-quasi-romance novel that will have book clubs salivating, and for good reason: It's a compelling, page-turning narrative that will also have readers, if they are like me, rushing to the Internet after the last page is read to learn more about the real-life situations and people who inspired the story... Lilac Girls falls squarely into the groundbreaking category of fiction that re-examines history from a fresh, female point of view. It's smart, thoughtful and also just an old-fashioned good read.
—Dallas-Ft. Worth Star Telegram
—Dallas-Ft. Worth Star Telegram