Monday, February 29, 2016
Martha Hall Kelly's "Lilac Girls:A Novel"
I've been thinking about this book for a few days. I will start by saying that I absolutely loved it. The entire story took hold of me and stayed with me long after I finished.
I have been struggling to write this review, not because I am not sure what to say, but because I don't want to say too much. I really want to just run my mouth about it and tell everyone that passes me about the awesome book I just finished, but that would make me a horrible book reviewer if I ruined the story for you.
Lilac Girls is a story told through the eyes of 3 women who lived in 3 different countries during WWII. I think that it is important to say that all of these women are based off a real World War II heroine. Since there are 3 main characters, this novel starts out with several different plots, not one being less significant than another.
Caroline is a wealthy, single American woman who devotes her time working for the French Consulate. She falls in love with a married French man, who ends up going back to occupied France to try and save his Jewish wife. Caroline falls out of contact with him and fears the worse after learning of the German "prisoner camps".
Kasia is a Polish teen working with the underground resistance in Poland. She is captured, along with her mother and sister, and is put on a train to Ravensbruck. Ravensbruck, located in Northern Germany, was one of the largest of Hitler's concentration camps exclusively for women. It is there that she becomes a "rabbit", the name for the girls who were used for experiments by SS doctors taking orders from Hitler himself.
Dr. Herta is fresh out of medical school in Germany when the war is starting. Fearing she will never get a decent job (being a woman doctor) and having her family to support, she takes a job at Ravensbruck. Going in she has her reservations, but she ultimately wholeheartedly believes in Hitler's plans for the greater good.
Every single character introduced in the story, whether large or small, has an impact to the overall novel. I dont think there was a single character that hasn't stuck with me. There were times when this book was so hard to read, such as the in depth descriptions of medical procedures being done on innocent women. The stories told are powerful, diverse, and heartbreaking. I felt myself slipping into the characters' places and putting myself in their shoes. Phenomenal story telling by debut author Martha Hall Kelly.
DO NOT close the book and skip reading the author's note. It tell how she became inspired to write this novel, along with some history of the people and places we read about in the book. Please also visit her site, www.marthahallkelly.com for photos, maps, etc.
This is a must read book for 2016. Do yourself a favor and preorder this novel now! I give it 5 stars!
Thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group- Ballantine for allowing me the eARC!