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Lilac Girls

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4.29  ·  Rating details ·  101,359 Ratings  ·  10,938 Reviews
Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and 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
...more
Hardcover, 487 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by Ballantine Books
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Martha Kelly Thank you for your question...the first one!
Caroline Ferriday was a real person and Kasia is a character based on Nina Ivanska, one of the "rabbits"…more
Thank you for your question...the first one!
Caroline Ferriday was a real person and Kasia is a character based on Nina Ivanska, one of the "rabbits" of Ravensbruck, who helped smuggle out the news of their operations to the world. I think they are both heroines in Lilac Girls.(less)
Martha Kelly Thanks for your question, Andrea. I loved Sarah's book, but the inspiration for Lilac Girls came when I visited Caroline Ferriday's house in…moreThanks for your question, Andrea. I loved Sarah's book, but the inspiration for Lilac Girls came when I visited Caroline Ferriday's house in Bethlehem, CT. over 12 years ago. I had seen Caroline's house featured in an article about her lilacs in Victoria Magazine, went up for a tour and couldn't get the photo of the Ravensbruck "rabbits" on her desk out of my head. You can find the whole story (including the photo I saw that day) at marthahallkelly.com if you want to know more!(less)

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Angela M
Oct 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No matter how many books I read about the atrocities of the holocaust, the death camps , the concentration camps, I always feel that each of the stories must be told so it is not forgotten and no matter how difficult these stories are to read , we have to read them. In this novel the story of what happened at Ravensbruck, the concentration camp , infamous for the horrific medical experimentation on young Polish women is told from the perspectives of three women. It spans two decades from 1939 wh ...more
Misfit
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: wwii
This story is about three different women, two of whom were real-life characters according to the author's notes, the third (a prisoner at the all female prison camp Ravensbrück). Caroline Ferriday is the first narrator, Kasia (a young Polish girl) and finally the notorious Herta Oberheuser (don't read up on her experiments at meal time). The setting is mainly during the years of WWII, but the later third or so take place some years afterward.

Typically such a subject matter would have me gripped
...more
Elyse
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Ravensbruck was Hitler's only major concentration camp exclusively for women.
The story is centered around three women....each from 3 different countries: Poland, Germany, and, America. ---( before- during - and after World War II) ---all based on the lives of real women in history. There are actually several plots ... not sure any of them are minor. The storytelling is disturbing, gripping and written veraciously.

Caroline Ferriday's was a wealthy American woman who made it her life's work to he
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Jen
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
No matter how many holocaust stories I read, I still find them disturbing, shocking and heart wrenching. Surviving such a devastating experience brings with it a lifetime of horrors. For no one truly forgets and nor should we.

3 women from 3 different geographies as WWII erupts - Each doing what they can towards the war effort.
Caroline in NYC. Putting care packages together for orphaned children. Going one step further and helping rebuild the country. Falling in love with a foreigner who is forc
...more
*TANYA*
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2017
I finished this book earlier in the day, and I've been pondering what to write for "my review" and I cannot put into words how much this book impacted me. It's books like this that make me appreciate how fortunate I am, for I know with great certainty that I could be nowhere as resilient. FANTASTIC BOOK!!!
Jessica
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc-netgalley
I'm so very clearly in the minority here, and I don't really feel like drawing the ire of the thousands of people who seem to have enjoyed this book so just let me say that the story was fine but I thought the writing was weak. The characters weren't developed and Kelly's use of the three-intertwined-narratives technique (Side note: I am sick to death of that technique) struck me as clumsy and ineffective.

PorshaJo
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I tend to gravitate to books on WWII and the holocaust, but I have never read a book about Ravensbrück, the Nazi concentration camp for women. I had never heard of the 'rabbits'. I was shocked by this book, not expecting it to be as good as it was.

The Lilac Girls tells the story of three *very* different women, whose lives eventually intersect. Caroline Ferriday, a socialite and former actress works for the French Consulate in NYC and she works tirelessly for children who have been impacted or d
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Lori
Apr 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After all the books I've read about the horrors surronding WWII it still amazes me how awful humans can be to each other. Lilac Girls is one of those novels that brings to light a little known atrocity... the experimentation on women in Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. The writing is so raw that at times I wasn't sure I'd be able to get through it. It saddens me so much to think that any of the victims of these atrocities would carry guilt feeling any it was their fault. I appreciate the dedicati ...more
Cheri
Ravensbrück. The first time I heard the name as a child, I pictured an older grand mansion needing care, having seen better days, like the movie 1946 film, Dragonwyck, a movie made before my time, but one I have to which I have a connection, of sorts.

”The lawn grew lush and green, and flowers rose up along the base of the building. To the left, high on a ridge overlooking the camp, sat four leader houses built in Heimatschutzstil, homeland-preserving style, with natural stone columns and half-t
...more
Suzanne Leopold
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book, based upon a true story, is about three women during World War 2.

Caroline Ferriday is a single New York socialite who does volunteer work for the French Consulate aiding orphans. Compassionate about her work, twenty-something Caroline wants to do something meaningful with her life. We follow her life through WW2 and how her she ultimately ends up helping raise money to rehabilitate women whose lives were severely impacted at Ravensbruck . Kasia Kuzmerick is a 17 year old, living in Po
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Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
Lilac Girls is a quietly powerful book set in the second World War and based on a true story.

It is well narrated by three different narrators, one for each POV.

The story is told through the eyes of Caroline Ferraday, New York Socialite; Kasia Kuzmerick , a young Polish woman; and Herta Oberheuser a young German Doctor, whose lives are set on a collusion course.

In my eyes, this is a 'must read' book. And when you do, don't skip the author's note at the end on how the book came to be written. fo
...more
Dorie
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was a difficult book to read and review. At one point early on in this novel I almost put it aside. The atrocities that it outlines in great, graphic detail, were almost too much for me. Then, curious about the author, I went on her website where she describes how she came to write this novel. It was here that I discovered that the main characters in the book are based on the lives of real people. Reading about a
...more
Jonetta
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jonetta by: Angela M
This is a fictional story of the real-life women who were subjected to medical experiments at Hitler's Ravensbrüch concentration camp, the only one exclusively for women. The story is told from three narratives: Caroline Ferriday, a New York debutant and socialite who worked tirelessly on behalf of French orphans before and at the war's outbreak; Kasia Kuzmerick, a young Polish woman who was subjected to these experiments at Ravensbrüch; and Herta Oberheuser, one of the camp doctors (the only fe ...more
Phrynne
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating read, not quite perfect,so four rather than five stars, but still a book I would recommend everyone to read.
I found out so much more than I already knew about World War 11, particularly as to what happened in Poland during and after the war. I also found it necessary after reading the book to research a bit more in order to fully understand it all.
My only reservation was that I never really felt attached to any of the characters. I was duly shocked by all they had to endur
...more
Marilyn C.
Jun 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2016
Do not let the idyllic cover of this book fool you; three girls, arm in arm, having a leisurely stroll together. This book is about Ravensbruck, a women's concentration camp located in northern Germany, during World War II. Over 130,000 women went through this camp with the majority never leaving: dying from disease, starvation or execution. These women were also subjected to grotesque experiments that would leave them disfigured, sterilized or dead. They would become known as the Ravensbruck ra ...more
Jennifer Blankfein
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Follow me on Book Nation by Jen for all my reviews and recommendations.
https://booknationbyjen.wordpress.com
If you missed the release of Lilac Girls, now is the time to buy the paperback. It is historical fiction based on true and harrowing events during World War II. For me, the Holocaust has always been mostly about how the Jews were prosecuted; a devastating time in our history across the world. But of course the Jewish people were not the only ones who were affected. Author Martha Hall Kelly
...more
Lindsay - Traveling Sister
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Excellent book! 5 stars! One of my favourite books of 2016!! Told from three characters' viewpoints, I was completely enthralled in each storyline. Very disturbing and horrific subject matter when reading about what went on at the concentration camp - hard to read at times and hard to believe this book is based on true events. Very well written - I was hooked from the first page to the very last page in the Author's Note. It was interesting to read about the author's journey through researching ...more
Jennifer
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
When done well, historical fiction novels can deeply connect readers to our shared human history and "teach" even better than many non-fiction texts. Lilac Girls is simultaneously heart breaking and heart warming, depressing and uplifting, as it weaves the story of women from Poland, the U.S. and Germany during WWII.

Much has been been written about the book's plot, which I will not re-hash in detail here. The book's primary focus is on the group of Polish women sent to the Ravensbruk concentrati
...more
Heather
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book! I have read a lot of books - both fiction and non-fiction - centered around WWII and the Holocaust. I don't think I've ever read one that looked at that time period from three different points of view. (I could say more about that, but it might be a spoiler, and I hate spoilers!) I didn't want to put this book down. MUST READ! I've seen it on LOTS of lists of popular books, and now I completely understand why! It deserves to be on "READ THIS BOOK NOW!" lists!
Dianne
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2017
The best thing about this story is that it's based on real people and real events. From the main characters to the individual Ravensbruck doctors and prison guards to the inmates of the concentration camp, Hall Kelly has done her research and then some. I did my own research after reading this, including visiting Hall Kelly's website, and became engrossed in the backstory, especially what happened to some of the protagonists in the story. Just seeing some of these people's pictures gave me goose ...more
Karen
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have read many books about World War ll, but had not heard of Ravensbruck concentration camp and the inhumane medical experimentations that happened there.
This story was told by three different women during the course of 20 years, two Polish sisters who ended up in the camp, and a wonderful, beautiful soul who was New York based, who did so much to help during and after the war.
I will remember these women!
Bam
*3.5 stars. Lilac Girls is an extensively-researched piece of historical fiction and quite engaging story based on the war-time activities of Caroline Ferriday, NY socialite, actress and humanitarian. Her story and that of two other women, one fictional and one real, are told in alternating chapters.

In the fall of 1939, Caroline is volunteering as head of family assistance for the French Consulate in New York, trying to aid wealthy travelers fleeing the uncertainties in France. She is also busy
...more
Alex Farrand
4.5 stars.

Lilac Girls is a heartbreaking tale about a group of Polish women, who are referred to as the 'Rabbits', during World War II. The novel is based on a true story. Martha Kelly used two women's histories, and provided a somewhat graphic tale of the Rabbit's hardships, and second chances for a new life after their time at a concentration camp named Ravensbrück. At Ravensbrück some Polish woman were subjected to medical experiments. Doctors broke bones, removed muscles, added bacteria, an
...more
Andrei Bădică
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Romanul "Când înflorește liliacul" prezintă viața a trei femei din timpul celui de-Al Doilea Război Mondial: newyorkeza Caroline Ferriday care este șefa departamentului de asistență a familiei pentru Consulatul Franței din New York, Kasia Kuzmerick în vârstă de șaptesprezece ani, elevă la Școala catolică pentru fete Sfânta Monica din Lublin, Polonia și Herta Oberheusen, absolventă a Școlii de medicină din Dusseldorf. Fiecare dintre ele simte războiul pe propria piele, chiar dacă din unghiuri di ...more
Brenda - Traveling Sister
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Lilac Girls is a haunting, powerful and deeply moving story which I found to be extremely interesting. I can be a bit careful as to what historical fiction I choose to read and reaching too far out of my comfort zone. I am glad I did with Lilac Girls.

Lilac Girls is told from three women’s perspectives; two of them based on real-life people with different backgrounds. I like how the stories start off separately for each woman, then as the story unfolds their lives intersect and we learn how each
...more
Jen
Thank you to NetGalley and Random House: Ballantine for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This is a beautiful, unsettling and exquisitely written book. Lovingly researched and inspired by the true story of the Ravensbrück “lapins” (Rabbits) and their “godmother”, Caroline Ferriday.

Ravensbrück was a women-only concentration camp run by the Nazis during World War II. Having just finished Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields, I have a grotesque knowledge of the innumerabl
...more
Britany
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-war-ii
Holocaust historical fiction is my kryptonite and up the ante by base it on true characters... SOLD!

Three women tell us their stories weaving chapter by chapter until they all connect. Caroline Ferriday is a NYC socialite working for the French Embassy, helping French orphans by sending packages. She falls in love with an unavailable French actor right before the war really starts raging. Kasia is a teenage Polish girl helping with the underground network, when she is captured, arrested, and sen
...more
Julie Christine
They were known as 'The Rabbits', those seventy-four young Polish women and girls held as political prisoners at Ravensbrück concentration camp. The Rabbits of Ravensbrück were chosen for the particular torture of medical experimentation. Their leg bones were smashed or fractured, the muscles cut open and glass, wood and dirt were inserted into their wounds. Some of the wounds were left untreated and others were treated with different types of drugs. Several of these women died as a result of th ...more
Nicole
Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
No matter how much you read about that difficult time, WWII novels never fail to give you a piece of information that you missed, a truth that you failed to discover, a knowledge that will change, at least a little, the way you see the world. And that's what I love about these stories. World War II horrors are endless, and a book that succeeded to show me new pieces of history doesn't deserve less than 4 stars.


Story:
Lilac Girls is based on a true story who is told from the perspective of three

...more
DeB MaRtEnS
5✩!! Caroline Ferriday is an unsung heroine, whose time to be properly though posthumously recognized has come through this remarkably documented piece of historical fiction, The Lilac Girls. The author Martha Hall Kelly found parts of the true story incidentally in a magazine article years ago. After visiting Caroline's New England lilac-surrounded heritage family home much later, Martha felt compelled to write about the New York actress and debutante who became an activist on behalf of women o ...more
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1,952 followers
Martha grew up in Massachusetts and now splits her time between Connecticut, New York City and Martha's Vineyard. She worked as an advertising copywriter for many years and raised three splendid children, while researching and writing Lilac Girls, her first novel. She is now hard at work on the prequel, thrilled she doesn't have to say good-bye to Caroline and Eliza. You'll find more info about th ...more
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