Lilac Girls

Lilac Girls

A Novel

Book - 2017
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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.
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, 2017
Edition: Ballantine Books trade paperback edition
ISBN: 9781101883075
Characteristics: 502 pages : illustrations, maps ; 20 cm
Call Number: KELLY, M


From Library Staff

List - Daytime Book Group
DCLbookclubs Sep 14, 2016

This title was discussed September 4, 2018.

As the war comes to Poland, teenager Kasia joins the underground to fight for her country until she is taken to Ravensbrück concentration camp, where German doctor Herta finds work. New York socialite Caroline raises money for French families during the war and later turns her fundraising efforts... Read More »

List - Power Women of History
DCLadults Mar 29, 2019

Based on the true story of one of the many heroines of World War II, "Lilac Girls" is a powerful and passionate testament to the power of love, redemption and courage — and of women. Kelly's novel revolves around the intersected lives of three young women facing a barrage of tragedy and... Read More »

Reminiscent of the "Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society," Kelly captures the story of three strong women: a New York socialite, a German girl, and a young German doctor. Their stories intersect as their lives take them across Poland, Paris, New York and Germany to survive the ... Read More »

From the critics

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Apr 03, 2021

Until I found out that this was based on a true story, I would have only given it a 4. As a true story, it was definitely a 5-star story!

Jan 19, 2021

Holocaust Lit. Good read.

Jan 18, 2021

Checks most of the politically correct boxes

LCPL_Krystyna Oct 28, 2020

A great historical fiction debut. It’s a heavy, emotional read but it’s also a beautiful, redemptive story. This book features well-developed characters, atmospheric details, and a piece of history that people may not be aware of. This is a bit of a longer read with a slow pace.

This was debut novel by Martha Hall Kelly, and very well done. I enjoyed it from start to finish. It is based on the real life story of Caroline Ferriday, who was a Broadway actress, then became a liaison to the French consulate in New York. Ferriday was instrumental in bringing 35 survivors of Ravensbrück, the women's Nazi concentration camp in Germany, to the United States for medical care after the war. 'Lilac Girls' spins a historical, fictitious tale of how this unfolded. I would definitely recommend this one.

Sep 02, 2020

Dear or dear. This book should be a part of every school curriculum for younger generation to know and remember what fascism is about. Based on real people and facts, this book is mind blowing. I researched the characters further - all information is available on the Internet - it’s unbelievable that those individuals belonged to the human race. Because they were not humans.

Jul 23, 2020

This follows 3 women starting in 1939 and goes through to the end of the 1950s during World War II. One woman is an American socialite who struggles romantically but raises money for victims in France. Another women is a young German doctor whose first job in the medical field is at a “reeducation camp for women” which is actually a job at a concentration camp doing experimental surgeries on the women. Another is a young girl who is caught an an Underground agent and is taken to be one of the doctors’ “rabbits” as an experiment. At one point during all of their stories I cringed for their pain, at other points I wanted to slap all of them (some more than others). This was a good read, a little confusing in the beginning but half way through once I had everything and everyone figured out, it read a lot smoother.

Feb 19, 2020

Enjoyed the book...well written.

Feb 01, 2020

Extremely well written. Very moving.

Jan 27, 2020

This was so good! I don't know why I waited so long to read it. I listened to the audiobook and it was easy to follow along even though it switched between 3 different women. I got to know the accents so I knew which woman's story I would be hearing about. I always love learning about WWII and the Holocaust. The more we know the better. This time I learned about the "rabbits" the women who were experimented on by the Nazi's. We also learned about a female doctor who did the surgeries and about a woman in New York working at the French Embassy trying to help with the war. This story is heartbreaking but also parts are uplifting how the women fight and support each other. They didn't give up. The author notes were also fascinating how she did her research and what she found. I knew about the rabbits but I hadn't read anything about them. Lilac Girls makes me want to learn more about the horrific surgeries and the women who endured them.

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Add a Quote
LCPL_Krystyna Oct 28, 2020

“You have a choice. To wallow in the unfairness of it all or rise above it. Fix it. Let other people in.”

LCPL_Krystyna Oct 28, 2020

“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.”

LCPL_Krystyna Oct 28, 2020

“It only hurts you to hold on to the hate.”

LCPL_Krystyna Oct 28, 2020

“Father loved the fact that a lilac only blossoms after a harsh winter.”

LCPL_Krystyna Oct 28, 2020

“I guess somewhere in a corner of our hearts, we are always twenty.”

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)

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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