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Lilac Girls
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ARCHIVE - BOTM discussions > Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly - April 2018

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message 1: by Kristie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kristie | 4665 comments The group chose to read Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly in April as our "flowers in the title" themed read. Please discuss here and remember to use spoiler tags as needed, as everyone may start at different times and reads at different speeds.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

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 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 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.

Stacey Kennedy | 1 comments Can’t wait to read and discuss!

message 3: by Debra Digs (new)

Debra Digs G. Just picked up Lilac Girls from the library. It has been on my TBR list for a long time. Looking forward to reading it. I will probably start the second week in April.

message 4: by Kristie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kristie | 4665 comments I read this one a couple of years ago and thought it was really good. I'll be following the discussion and look forward to seeing what to seeing all your thoughts.

If you're interested, you can see my review here:

Corina | 223 comments Finished this one about a week ago after having it on my to read list for a while. Historical fiction books are some of my favorites and I thought this one was really good.
For me, it definitely depicted a story that I have personally never heard before and what those women went through was horrible. The different perspectives in the book give an interesting insight into their own personal struggles in those difficult times.

Colleen  | 256 comments This was a good novel, but I thought the execution lacked. Overall recommended but not the best IMHO. WW2 novels are fascinating overall though!

Sarah (psitssarahh) | 258 comments I have been wanting to read this book!! I'm excited for it to be the first book I read along with the group!

Rachel (stillchasethewind) | 452 comments Does anyone have similar books to recommend? I loved this book. I also enjoyed reading about Caroline Ferriday's real life.

Olivia (oliviah_) | 72 comments Rachel wrote: "Does anyone have similar books to recommend? I loved this book. I also enjoyed reading about Caroline Ferriday's real life."

If you are looking for WWII historical fiction, The Nightingale is as good as this book.
Another amazing historical fiction novel that takes place in wartime in Taiwan is Green Island by Shawna Yang. This novel is engrossing, and well written and I loved that it went into such depth about a war America never really ever talks about.

Another good wartime historical fiction is In the Dark by Deborah Moggach. It takes place in London during WWI. It's not as moving as Lilac Girls, but it's still pretty good. I learned a lot about the role of horses in the first war, about technology and society during that era. I was surprised at how much I still don't know about this war.

Olivia (oliviah_) | 72 comments "The horror of it. The hate grew black in my chest."

This quote sums up perfectly what I so often felt while reading Lilac Girls. It was difficult to read at times because the most atrocious things in the book did actually happen to men and women in Europe. It was difficult to not feel extreme anger, even though these things occurred over half a century ago when our world was a different place... I just could not come to terms with the complete lack of empathy that lead to such a massive genocide.. That idea of "otherness" that dehumanizes people is a cancer to society. There is no other. We are all people who love, feel, hurt and breathe.. And yet an entire country was taught to hate. Not just a regular hate, like you hate peas for dinner, but a venomous thick hatred that allowed and welcomed brutality, violence and a systematic dehumanization of an entire race of people.. Not that WWII is a unicorn here. There have certainly been other acts of genocide on a populace, but what makes this one so horrible is the scale of it, and that the world watched too long while millions died..

I read this book last year and rated it 5 stars. It's among my top favorites in Historical Fiction.
You also might be interested in see her website, which is full of pictures of Caroline's home and of a visit to Warsaw-

Rachel (stillchasethewind) | 452 comments Olivia wrote: "Rachel wrote: "Does anyone have similar books to recommend? I loved this book. I also enjoyed reading about Caroline Ferriday's real life."

If you are looking for WWII historical fiction, [book:Th..."

Thank you so much Olivia!!

Colleen  | 256 comments I would also recommend The Book Thief, Sarah's Key, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas &
I totally second The Nightingale.

All great WW2 books.

Rachel (stillchasethewind) | 452 comments Colleen wrote: "I would also recommend The Book Thief, Sarah's Key, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas &
I totally second The Nightingale.

All great WW2 books."

I have the Nightingale. I just have not gotten to it. I also loved The Book Thief and Sarah's Key. Wow, what moving books.

Carol (fleter) | 105 comments I read this book awhile back. Powerful and moving, even more so because it's based on real people. I read a lot of WWII fiction, and this is a great one. Tells a story I hadn't heard as much about and it was great to have their story told.

message 15: by Amy (new)

Amy | 2 comments Ohhh I love it and I just started reading it!! It’s a real page turner I was up till midnight last night. I just love all three characters I had my doubts about the character of Herta. Until she arrived at the camp and now I’m seeing the sensitive side of her. I relate to Caroline when she talks about her height and not wanting to wear skates or the headdress. Bring a tall child and woman I can relate totally. And Kasia being so brave working with the resistance. Ive only just begun but can’t wait to finish this book !!

Marian Lee | 7 comments This was one of the longer books I’ve read. I was impressed with the characters. Parts of the book was hard to get through. The book was overall very good.

message 17: by Amy (new)

Amy | 2 comments Just finished the book! Not sure if I need to add spoilers here since the month has passed but at any rate was wondering what everyone thought of the characters in the book.

So Spoilers here

I loved the characters.

Caroline and Paul.
At first I was cautious about Paul but it always makes me wonder what was in his letters that went unopened when Rena came back. Would that have changed the course of events for Caroline ? As we later see he shows up years later with just his daughter. And at the end of the book he writes a letter to Caroline. What was in that letter?

Kasia, Zuzannah and Pietrik I had mixed feelings for Kasia after the home coming. And always wished Kasia could of gotten help for her anger instead of holding onto it for years. I loved her strong will and character through out though and loved the ending when she got the ring.

Herta . I was mixed with this one as well. I liked when the doctor came to see her at the camp and could see that what was going on did bother her. Atleast outwardly with the insomnia. I wanted so much more for Herta. When she got to the camp the first day, with the first injection was the one time she showed real human emotion I was really hoping she would leave the camp like she wanted to at the end of the chapter. I guess I was hoping for her to help save the rabbits so I was sad how that played out.

message 18: by Dum Vida Est Spes Est (last edited Jun 06, 2018 06:07AM) (new)

Dum Vida Est Spes Est | 4 comments Powerful read. In the end no one wins in war. Caroline had a heart of gold. It was a lovely read.

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