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 an ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems like 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 they strive and sacrifice 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 quests for love, happiness, and second chances. It is a story that will keep listeners bonded with the characters, searching for the truth, until the final moments.
©2016 Martha Hall Kelly (P)2016 Random House Audio
"Rich with historical detail and riveting to the end, Lilac Girls weaves together the lives of three astonishing women into a story of extraordinary moral power, against the harrowing backdrop of a 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 best-selling author of A Hundred Summers and The Secret Life of Violet Grant)
Nothing I disliked, but some parts were very hard to hear... From an emotional standpoint. Heartbreaking to think what we have done to each other, human to human, in our past and I am sure in our future. Loved all the characters, but most especially, Kasha. Wonderful book!
I hesitated at first about taking on another historical novel set amidst World War II - but rest assured this is a story you have not heard - about people you may have heard about and events that might sound a bit familiar. But that is where familiarity ends. The extraordinary attention to detail, the depth of the characters, and the narrative told from the points of view of three different but interlinked characters make for superb reading (or listening).
This is a novel about so much more than the many Nazi atrocities we know about - it's about being willing to love and be loved, learning that we cannot control events but must live them, it's about the complications borne of buried trauma, and ultimately about facing pain in order to grab hold of one's life - and live with gusto - no matter the cost. Because it's worth it.
Retired Freelance Proofreader/Copy Editor
This was a memorable book & the 3 stories were very interesting & well-written. Don't be tempted to read the author's note at the end of the book first. Spoilers! I'm glad the author included it. I wanted to know more about actual events. I'm inspired to read more about the "rabbits."
The book seemed to drag a few times, but that's probably because I wanted things to happen that didn't. The book is long, but I don't think it needed editing (& I'm a former proofreader/copy editor).
Each narrator was excellent! I would be surprised if anyone dislikes the narrators. Even when each does other accents, I didn't find it jarring or dissonant.
There are a few places where it's quite sad & grim. But that's part of the book's purpose; it's about the Holocaust, after all.
Overall, an interesting, moving book from a new author. I'll be watching for her next book!
This book is fabulous and I highly recommend the audio version to truly bring these women to life!
I have read a lot of books on concentration camps and have even visited a few but this was a learning experience for me I had never heard of the Ravensbruck Rabbits, you hear so much about Mengele’s experiments on twins but I never knew about the experiments these women went through in Ravenbruck.
As with any book on concentration camps this one is heartbreaking; however there is so much hope in this book because a large part of the book is about the survivors and the after effects that there is hope and hope’s name is Caroline Ferriday. She truly saved these women years of pain by getting them to the US and getting them surgery to fix the atrocious things that were done to them.
I enjoyed the different storylines told by Caroline, Kasia one of the survivors and Herta one of the doctors at the camp which was an interesting storyline because you just couldn’t like her no matter if she felt bad for what she was doing or not. I also enjoyed the addition of Kasia’s sister Suzanna (sp audio) who is a doctor and also a survivor of Ravenbruck.
CAROLINE, read by Cassandra Campbell…KASIA, read by Kathleen Gati….HERTA, read by Kathrin Kana the narration on this book was so fantastic I can’t even come up with enough words to tell you to listen to the audio version of this book. These 3 narrators brought these women to life for me and I believe enhanced my enjoyment of this book.
I could go on and on about this book and I think this will be in my top books of the year this year. So I’ll just say if you enjoy historical fiction or WWII fiction you need to read this book!
This story which brought to light the harrowing things that happened to the polish prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp. It's a story of love, loss , and how evil cannot win. Beautifully narrated and wonderfully told, this story will be in my heart forever.
Really well researched story of 3 some with different roles in the events of WW2. Incredible characters! Wonderful narration. Really liked how each character had a different narrator. Engrossing listen
The book was well performed and keeps you interested from start to finish. you get to hear many angles and lives of WWII. I didn't want to stop listening.
Couldn't stop listening to this book. Excellent character development. Loved how the three women's lives came full circle.
I love WWII fiction & time slip stories. I teach in a Christian high school & love to share books w/ my students!
This is just the type of story I fall in love with---amazing writing, favorite time period, inspirational characters. Listening to it as an audio book was magical!
Memorable moments: Caroline with Paul---any scene. Caroline in the orphanage. Caroline sharing about her father the 1st time & then when encouraging Paul as a father. Caroline's epiphany at the bridge party. Kassia with her math teacher in the camp. Kassia determining to tell the world about their plight with her secret code. The first time she received red thread.
All the narrators were wonderful. Their voices plus the authors evocative settings really brought the story to life. But I could've listened to "Caroline" talk for hours!
For me, Caroline's story sparkled & I loved the chapters about her life.
Martha Kelly is an amazing story teller. Who better to tell the story of the rabbits of ravens brook then this first time author. The readers were first rate. Looking forward to all things Martha hall Kelly.
"Great story, true account, very addictive read"
The story is narrated by 3 different people and the book gradually weaves their stories together. Very skilled to give opposing sides views on something so delicate like ww2. Really enjoyable read and very tense at times.
Would recommend this highly- well written and educational. If you enjoy this you MUST read the nightingale by Kristen hannah
This is a remarkable book. It is a brilliantly researched and written homage to the women who endured and fought against the Nazi atrocities at Ravensbrück Concentration Camp in WW2 and beyond. It is so well crafted and the characters so well drawn I feel I know them. I also feel that the audible performance enhances the narrative brilliantly. This book has made me cry and made me so thankful.
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