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Lilac Girls
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Group Read Discussions > June 2016: Lilac Girls - Spoilers permitted

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message 1: by Becky, Moddess (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) | 3676 comments Mod
Hi all... sorry I'm late putting this up. My brain is melting this week.

Remember to uncheck the Add to my Update Feed so as to not spoil your friends and followers.


message 2: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy Definitely enraptured me. But I found it sad and haunting. Honestly, I'm glad I read it, but it was a tough read. For this spoilers permitted section, I would add that its quite hard when the ending doesn't make you feel all that lifted. For what Kasia had to endure, that stays with you in a way that honors the history and the pain associated with it, but leaves a gaping wound - so to speak. And while Caroline Ferriday was heroic in her efforts, she did not seem to get some of the life rewards that come with that level of giving, and I was sad about that. Herta - its kind of hard to even know what to say. Hardened hearts are almost hard to contemplate or absorb, but another truth left to endure. The writing was excellent, and the story moved. But again, sad and haunting.


Dana (dkmckelvey) I can't say that Lilac Girls was my favorite WW2-era book, but I am really glad I read it. I found it very interesting from the POV of different women, especially Kasia. I knew little of Ravensbruck, and even less about the Rabbits.

The thing I disliked the most about the book was Caroline's romance - I found it unnecessary. She is a strong, independent woman who didn't need a married man to bring her down :)


Anameeka | 12 comments Here are the things I liked about this book.

The characters are human, and make mistakes. The author shows how a person could be so caught up in evil, and not even think they are doing wrong. I think Herta does give us a good example of a person raised in Germany during the Weimar and Nazi eras and how such a person could likely think. Although, it doesn't excuse her behavior it does explain it a little. I do think as per the novel, Herta has some deep underlying sense of what she did was wrong, at least before the trials; given her insomnia other issues that her psychologist friend tries to talk to her about.

There were "good" Germans, and innocent ones, but I believe that they were rare. I personally think that many Germans deluded themselves, went along with Hitler's rhetoric because it gave them someone other than themselves to blame, and later complied because they were trapped or feared for their own safety. Many Germans were complicit in the atrocities of the Nazi state either through active participation or deliberate willful ignorance. Herta's part also reminded me of something the Actor Rafe Fiennes said during "Schindler's List", talking about his character Amon Goeth, that is very applicable to Herta. "...a desperate and psychotic personality with an unnatural void at the core, years of Nazi propaganda and conditioning, and the conviction that your Jewish victims are not humans but some sort of destructive virus, and you have the basic ingredients of Goeth, a man feeding his inner demons while believing he is "performing the state a service by popping the odd one off before breakfast."

I too, felt that Caroline's romance was somewhat unnecessary. She didn't need a man. However, I'm a bit on the fence with it, because it seems necessary to the plot. I am not sure how the actual Caroline got involved with French refugees, but in the novel, the chain of events leading to Ravensbruck flowed naturally from the relationship she had.

I also liked the ending. Ravensbruck destroyed some parts of Kasia and finally at the end she was able to resolve some issues and have forgiveness.


Laurice | 10 comments Just finished it tonight. I really enjoyed it! I wish the relationship with Paul had been resolved but in my imagination they end up together. What can i say. I'm a romantic.


message 6: by Anne (new)

Anne Ipsen | 121 comments I just returned this book to the library, barely read--I don't need more reminders of the brutality of WW2.


Christine | 27 comments Dana wrote: "I can't say that Lilac Girls was my favorite WW2-era book, but I am really glad I read it. I found it very interesting from the POV of different women, especially Kasia. I knew little of Ravensbruc..."

Agreed, I was disappointed to read the author's note that Caroline's romance was completely made up. I think her "storyline" would have been much more interesting without it.


Joy D I enjoyed the weaving together of the stories of the 3 women. I found the book engrossing and learned a lot about what happened in Ravensbruck during WWII. The only part I didn't care for was the love affair between Caroline and Paul, as I thought it detracted from the central, important story. While I pretty much knew, due to the era and subject matter, there would be some gruesome descriptions, they were still a bit hard to read, especially knowing these atrocities really happened.


message 9: by Anne (new)

Anne Ipsen | 121 comments I know all I want to know about Ravensbruck and am glad I didn't get that far in the book. Gruesome I don't need, today's news is bad enough.


Peggyzbooksnmusic | 666 comments I actually felt guilty that I didn't like this as much as I had anticipated. I copy and pasted my review here:

"I will have to rate this only 3 stars. Even though I liked the story, the writing style of the author fell flat for me. I really wanted to love this as it tells a very important part of WWII history; the imprisonment of women in the concentration camp Ravensbruick. Many of these women were horribly experimented on and became know as The Rabbits of Ravensbruick. The novel is told from the POV of 3 main characters: an American, a Polish prisoner, and a German doctor. I felt that the strongest part of the novel was the last part which took place in the 1950's and told the follow-up stories of the 3 main characters."


message 11: by Anne (new)

Anne Ipsen | 121 comments My (Dr.) father told about going down to Ravensbuck (from Denmark) just before the end of WW2 to bring back Scandinavian prisoners. My mother told of going to meet father at the hospital train and seeing the horrors of the living skeletons. That's enough for me.


Laura | 9 comments Little late in posting here, I got this book from the library and it took a while! Like other readers of this, I had high hopes but it kind of fell a little flat for me. It was horrifying what happened to the Rabbits and others who experienced and survived these awful crimes. I'm sure others like Kasia had lifelong suffering as survivors. I wasn't bothered by the Paul/Caroline romance but can see how some were. Overall good, but not as good as other recent fiction in the genre.


Monica Hills | 89 comments I am so glad to see that other people felt the same way I did after reading this. I thought that overall it was a good book but definitely not the best one I have read in this genre. This novel had such high ratings that I felt a little let down that I didn't like it more. I knew that the Germans had done experiments but I didn't know about Ravensbruick or the Rabbits. I did think it was interesting that just about all of the characters were based on real people but the ending didn't feel like it should have been the ending. I felt like their needed to be more resolution.


Kelli (kelli_12) | 3 comments I am glad to have read the book, but it is not one of my favorites. It was interesting reading from the three different perspectives, specifically between Kasia and Herta. Unlike others, I rather liked the ending. It may not have had a happy ending that leaves you smiling in the end and not everything was resolved at the last page, but it was realistic.

I think what bothered me most about the book was Caroline's character and story. I understand that she was a caring and passionate woman, but for some reason her character just really annoyed me. I think she was just too over the top for me and seemed really ignorant at times. Also, the romance was completely not necessary. I would have preferred a different plot and character from the American point of view.


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