Lilac Girls

Lilac Girls

A Novel

Paperback - 2017
Average Rating:
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Caroline Ferriday, a socialite in New York, has her hands full with her post at the French consulate, but on the eve of a fateful war, her world is changed forever when Hitler's army invades Poland in September, 1939; and then sets its sights on France. Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, an ocean away from Caroline, 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 suspcting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences. For Herta Oberheuser, the ambitious young German doctor, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, Herta 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. -- Container.
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, 2017.
Edition: Ballantine Books trade paperback edition.
ISBN: 9781101883082
1101883081
Characteristics: 502 pages : illustrations, maps ; 20 cm

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Book Discussion: Lilac Girls

The story of the Ravensbruck Rabbits: seventy-four women prisoners in the Ravensbruck concentration camp. Using alternating first-person narratives, the characters relate their experiences from 1939 through 1959. Drawing upon a decade of research, Hall reconstructs what life was like in Ravensbruck. More than a war story, this is a tale of how the strength of women's bonds can carry them t... (more)

Book Discussion: Lilac Girls

The story of the Ravensbruck Rabbits: seventy-four women prisoners in the Ravensbruck concentration camp. Using alternating first-person narratives, the characters relate their experiences from 1939 through 1959. Drawing upon a decade of research, Hall reconstructs what life was like in Ravensbruck. More than a war story, this is a tale of how the strength of women's bonds can carry them t... (more)


From Library Staff

In 1939 Manhattan, twenty-something Caroline fends off unwanted suitors, while across the Atlantic, teenage Kasia Kuzmerick worries what will come as Germany declares war on her native Poland. As their involvement with the war grows, the two women's lives will converge in unprecedented ways.

This debut novel based on real people and events follows the lives of three women during World War II: New York socialite Caroline Ferriday, Polish teenager Kasia Kuzmerick and German doctor Herta Oberheuser. As the war dawns, Caroline works on relief efforts at the French consulate, Kasia joins ... Read More »


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m
m0mmyl00
Jan 13, 2018

Spoiler alert: The Lilac Girls told the separate but interwoven stories of three women who lived during the time of the Holocaust. Kasia is a brave teenager who is determined to fight the Germans. She works as a spy and supports the underground activities of her Girl Scout-type group. She is rounded up with other Poles and sent to Ravensbrück to be “re-educated.” Herta is a doctor with a promising future; very rare for a female. She is offered a plum job at Ravensbrück and goes, hoping to alleviate the suffering of the residents. When she discovers they are prisoners, and not even considered humans, she is undaunted and continues to do her “job.” Her job is to conduct experiments on girls’ legs, introducing foreign materials into wounds she and her staff inflicted on the girls and treating them/not treating them to see what happened. Kasia is one of her victims. Caroline is a New York socialite who uses her considerable influence and wealth to come to the aid of those suffering at the hands of the Germans while she works as a volunteer at the French embassy. Once the war is over, and she learns about the women whose legs were maimed, she plans and implements a plan to bring those women to America to be treated.
This story is based on a true event in history. The main characters are all real, and the main events in the story all really happened. It makes for some difficult reading, but it is well written and well researched, and tells an important story about individual people and what they did and what they had to bear.

k
kblouch
Nov 26, 2017

book club, March 24, 2018

e
Eil_1
Oct 01, 2017

This book, was based on history - a brutal part of WWII - Ravensbruck a concentration camp for women where horrific experiments were conducted and murders of thousands of babies and females were committed. Kasia and Caroline are strong characters; Herta chooses Evil in order to satisfy her ego and ambitions. A powerfully intense read.

d
diannemarie52
Sep 20, 2017

A very thought provoking book that you will remember long after you have read it.

o
olemissann
Sep 11, 2017

Excellent book! This is a historical fictional account of 3 very different women's life during WWII. Caroline Ferriday is a former actress who works with the French embassy in NYC. Kasia is a teenager who is arrested with her family and boyfriend in Poland and sent to a women's concentration camp (Ravenbruck) for "re-education". The third woman is named Herta, a Nazi doctor who participates in "Research" at Ravenbruck. The book tells the perspective each woman had of the war, and shows how one person can make a difference in so many lives.

g
greenacres
Sep 06, 2017

We've all heard the phrase "Don't judge a book by it's cover"; this is a good example. You may think you are getting a white-washed war story of three friends and lost loves, but this is so much more.
We are taken to Ravensbruck, a WWII "re-education" camp-really a concentration/experimental facility- where inmates are subjected to gruesome surgeries. We meet Kasia an inmate and a German female Doctor, Herta Oberheuser. We get both sides of the story in this novel; it's not often the reader is presented with that.
Another major character is Caroline Ferriday, a New York socialite, who sends care packages to orphaned French children and later assists in the rehabilitation of the Ravensbruck prisoners. There is a lot of emotional upheaval here, as there is in any war story. But the reader has some relief from the intensity of the major plot line with the introduction of the romance between Caroline and Paul Rodierre.
My minor "beefs" about the book -- I felt the title and cover were misleading but I understand the selling point of good cover art. And Caroline and the Ravensbruck women's lives don't converge until page 375 of the 476 novel. I realize we need this back-story to appreciate the novel in it's entirety.
All in all a suspenseful, detailed, educational read; a story that needed to be told. Lest we forget.

b
bablnbabs
Sep 04, 2017

I loved this book! For a first novel it was fantastic. I prefer historical fiction and this was very well researched and the characters were vivid. I tried to read it very slowly in order to make it "last longer" yet I wanted to get to the next chapter as quickly as possible. I will keep it on my list to read again. It was most poignant as I was reading it when there were clashes between extreme left activists and alt-right protestors in modern America.

v
Vincent2017
Aug 03, 2017

This was a fantastic book. It did take me a while to get into it, learning the personalities. But after that, had a hard time putting it down, Want to do more research regarding Caroline Ferriday and the "rabbits". Thank you Martha Hall Kelly for sharing this story with everyone.

CRRL_MegRaymond Jul 25, 2017

The intertwining lives and fates of three very different women - a concentration camp survivor, a female German doctor, and an American socialite.

g
grammy14
Jul 08, 2017

You have me as having read and reviewed this book. I have done neither!! I have not read it and certainly have not reviewed it! Please correct.

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Firerose14
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)

c
cknightkc
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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