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Lilac girls : a novel
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Caroline Ferriday (Female), New Yorker, Socialite, Former actress; works at the French embassy
Kasia Kuzmerick (Female), Messenger, Polish, Works as a courier for the underground resistance; sent to a Nazi concentration camp
Herta Oberheuser (Female), Doctor, German, Accepted a government medical position; finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets while performing medical experimentations on human subjects in concentration camps
World War II
Resistance movements
Women's lives
Female friendship
Concentration camps
Medical experimentation
New York - Mid-Atlantic States (U.S.)
Poland - Europe
- Eastern Europe
Time Period
1939-1959 -- 20th century
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

Kelly's first novel, based on a true story, is told from the points of view of three women-an American, a Pole, and a German-whose paths intersect after World War II. In 1939, Caroline Ferriday works at the French consulate in New York on behalf of French orphans, work that is all the more urgent with U.S. immigration quotas and Hitler's threat to Europe. The Kuzmerick family of Lublin, Poland, is broken apart by the SS. Kasia, her older sister Zusanna, and her mother, Halina, are relocated to Ravensbruck, a Nazi work camp. In Dusseldorf, Herta Oberheuser has finished her medical studies and goes to work for the Reich-at Ravensbruck. Kasia becomes one of the subjects of Nazi medical experiments administered by Herta. As a result, Kasia is crippled. She and her sister survive the camp, though their mother perishes. Through Caroline's relief work, Kasia and other Ravensbruck survivors are brought to the United States for medical treatment in 1954. Her leg healed, Kasia returns to Poland with a final assignment: to find Herta and discover what happened to -Halina. Their eventual meeting brings only a partial resolution. Narration by Cassandra Campbell, Kathleen Gati, and Kathrin Kana enhances the story line. VERDICT This memorable tale of despair and restored hope will be a popular book club choice. Recommended. ["This impressive debut should appeal strongly to historical fiction readers": LJ 4/1/16 starred review of the Ballantine hc.]-Nann Blaine Hilyard, formerly with Zion-Benton P.L., IL © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

Kelly's compelling first novel follows three women through the course of World War II and beyond. Caroline, a wealthy New Yorker, volunteers at the French consulate in New York, assisting refugees and raising funds. She meets Paul, a charming, married French actor, and sparks fly. Kasia, a young woman living in Poland during the Nazi invasion, works for the resistance until she is captured and sent to Ravensbruck, the women's concentration camp. There, she encounters Herta, a doctor hired to help execute inmates and perform experiments. Though her mother is Herta's trusted assistant, and even saved a camp guard's life, Kasia is operated on, joining the "Rabbits," inmates deformed from their surgeries. Meanwhile, Caroline loses touch with Paul when he returns to France to find his wife, and she finds herself tasked with keeping track of the growing concentration camp network for the consulate, learned from British intelligence. After the war, she travels to France to assist in locating missing people, where she learns about the Rabbits, including Kasia, who is struggling to let go of her anger and move on with her life. Despite some horrific scenes, this is a page-turner demonstrating the tests and triumphs civilians faced during war, complemented by Kelly's vivid depiction of history and excellent characters. Agent: Alexandra Machinist, Curtis Brown. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * For readers of The Nightingale and Sarah's Key, inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this powerful debut novel reveals an incredible story of love, redemption, and terrible secrets that were hidden for decades. <br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> In Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly has crafted a remarkable novel of unsung women and their quest for love, freedom, and second chances. It is a story that will keep readers bonded with the characters, searching for the truth, until the final pages.<br> <br> USA Today "New and Noteworthy" Book *  LibraryReads Top Ten Pick <br> <br> "Harrowing . . . Lilac illuminates." -- People <br> <br> "A compelling, page-turning narrative . . . Lilac Girls falls squarely into the groundbreaking category of fiction that re-examines history from a fresh, female point of view. It's smart, thoughtful and also just an old-fashioned good read." -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram <br> <br> "A powerful story for readers everywhere . . . Martha Hall Kelly has brought readers a firsthand glimpse into one of history's most frightening memories. A novel that brings to life what these women and many others suffered. . . . I was moved to tears." -- San Francisco Book Review <br> <br> "Extremely moving and memorable . . . This impressive debut should appeal strongly to historical fiction readers and to book clubs that adored Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale and Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See ." -- Library Journal (starred review) <br> <br> "[A] compelling first novel . . . This is a page-turner demonstrating the tests and triumphs civilians faced during war, complemented by Kelly's vivid depiction of history and excellent characters." -- Publishers Weekly <br> <br> "Kelly vividly re-creates the world of Ravensbrück." -- Kirkus Reviews<br> <br> "Inspired by actual events and real people, Martha Hall Kelly has woven together the stories of three women during World War II that reveal the bravery, cowardice, and cruelty of those days. This is a part of history--women's history--that should never be forgotten." --Lisa See,  New York Times  bestselling author of  China Dolls <br> <br> "Profound, unsettling, and thoroughly . . . the best book I've read all year." --Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
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