Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

This novel follows the stories of three women during the World War II.

Caroline Ferriday is a wealthy socialite lives a glamorous life in New York City. Despite living across the ocean from the war zone, she finds a way to be involved and take part in the war matter; she works at the French consulate and helps refugees and orphans. Soon her stable life changes significantly when she meets and falls in love with charming but married Frenchman, who must go back to occupied France. Caroline does not hear from him for many months and realizes that anything could happen. She does everything in her power and beyond to find out what happened to the man she loves.

Kasia Kuzmerick is a polish teenager watching the Germans occupy her hometown. Even though she is just a young girl, she is determined to do anything to help her people. Kasia joins the local underground resistance and works as a courier. Shortly Kasia finds herself and her family among other political prisoners on the train to Ravensbruck camp. That mortifying place is known for the shocking medical experiments made on the prisoners.

Meanwhile, Ravensbruck welcomes a new doctor. Herta Oberheuser is ambitious but new at the camp run mostly by men. Therefore, she must work harder than the rest to prove herself as a surgeon and medical innovator.

At first, I was a bit skeptical about Caroline’s part of the story. How can a former Hollywood star living a fancy life in NY compare to an overwhelming story of Kasia and multidimensional Herta? However, the further the story progressed her character really opened up. She is way beyond wealthy starlet. A brave woman who can leave her comfortable life and go across the ocean to occupied France to find the man she loves. Herta was also an interesting character. On the one hand, she is a monstrous doctor doing horrible things to the prisoners, on the other hand, I felt sorry for her a couple of times. That’s what makes her very interesting. I think Martha Hall Kelly did an outstanding job in creating those women and through their eyes tell three very different but equally interesting, beautiful and tragic stories.

The book hypnotizes you from the beginning to the last page. This is one of the best novels on the holocaust I have read.

Rating: 5/5



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