Lilac Girls (Paperback)

Staff Pick Logo
Lilac Girls Cover Image
On Our Shelves Now
7 on hand, as of Jul 22 1:46am

Staff Reviews

This book, based on real characters and events during World II, is uplifting, wretched, and well-written.  It’s based on the life of Caroline Ferriday, who had been a Broadway actress, and became a liaison to the French consulate before the war had reached the United States.   The war started in earnest in Poland by 1939, and we’re given a fictionalized, though realistic, look at the enormity of the horrors that became realities for young girls and women in Poland.  We’re given a look at Ravensbruck, a concentration camp for women.  Mutilations were performed in the name of medical research on many of the girls, which left many lame and deformed.  Those horrors were performed by a female doctor Herta Oberheuser, who was trying to prove that she was as competent a surgeon as a man. We hear of Kasia and her sister, whose physical and mental comebacks are inspirational. They cling to one another, and to the other women on whom the atrocities were performed.  These women became known as the “Rabbits”, both for their inability to walk properly, and the speed in which they could disappear from their tormentors.

I leave you to the rest of this very moving story, and the elusive happiness that was finally found.

The most sincere thanks go to Caroline Ferriday and her good heart. Available as both an eBook and audiobook.

-Recommended by Katie D.

— From August Staff Picks to Inspire and Delight


nspired by true events that took place during World War II, this novel is a stunningly dark work that will move readers to the deepest emotional depths. The story is told through the eyes of three women — Caroline Ferriday, a French consultant doing whatever she can to help those affected by Hitler’s Army from overseas; Kasia, a Polish teenager, who becomes part of the resistance, which carries consequences one could have ever dreamed of; and Herta, a young female German doctor who will do anything to prove herself in the male-dominated Nazi Germany.

This tragic tale unfolds throughout the entirety of WWII, and the utter depravity of the the time is expressed very truthfully and brutally. But though this book is incredibly dark, it is hopeful and optimistic at it’s core, as Caroline and Kasia attempt to bring justice for those affected by this disastrous time in our history.

I ate this book up in two days, I could not put it down except to sleep. An absolute must-read.

— From Book Review: Go Back in Time with 3 Historical Fiction Titles


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - For readers of The Nightingale and Sarah's Key, inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this remarkable debut novel reveals the power of unsung women to change history in their quest for love, freedom, and second chances.

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 Ravensbr ck, 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.

USA Today "New and Noteworthy" Book - LibraryReads Top Ten Pick

"Harrowing . . . Lilac illuminates."--People

"A compelling, page-turning narrative . . . 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."--Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"A powerful story for readers everywhere . . . Martha Hall Kelly has brought readers a firsthand glimpse into one of history's most frightening memories. A novel that brings to life what these women and many others suffered. . . . I was moved to tears."--San Francisco Book Review

"Extremely moving and memorable . . . This impressive debut should appeal strongly to historical fiction readers and to book clubs that adored Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale and Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See."--Library Journal (starred review)

" A] compelling first novel . . . This is a page-turner demonstrating the tests and triumphs civilians faced during war, complemented by Kelly's vivid depiction of history and excellent characters."--Publishers Weekly

"Kelly vividly re-creates the world of Ravensbr ck."--Kirkus Reviews

"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

"Profound, unsettling, and thoroughly . . . the best book I've read all year."--Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

About the Author

Martha Hall Kelly is a native New Englander now living in Atlanta, Georgia, where she's writing the prequel to Lilac Girls. This is her first novel.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781101883082
ISBN-10: 1101883081
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: February 28th, 2017
Pages: 512
Language: English