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Lilac Girls: A Novel Paperback – February 28, 2017
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“Harrowing . . . Lilac illuminates.”—People
“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
“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
“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)
“[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
“Kelly vividly re-creates the world of Ravensbrück.”—Kirkus Reviews
“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
“This is the kind of book I wish I had the courage to write—a profound, unsettling, and thoroughly captivating look at sisterhood through the dark lens of the Holocaust. Lilac Girls is the best book I’ve read all year. It will haunt you.”—Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
“Rich with historical detail and riveting to the end, Lilac Girls weaves the lives of three astonishing women into a story of extraordinary moral power set against the harrowing backdrop of Europe in thrall to Nazi Germany. Martha Hall Kelly moves effortlessly across physical and ethical battlegrounds, across the trajectory of a doomed wartime romance, across the territory of the soul. I can’t remember the last time I read a novel that moved me so deeply.”—Beatriz Williams, New York Times bestselling author of A Hundred Summers and The Secret Life of Violet Grant
About the Author
Martha Hall Kelly is a native New Englander now living in Atlanta, Georgia, where she’s writing the prequel to Lilac Girls. This is her first novel.
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By far, that would be Kasia, spunky Polish teenager, who wants to be part of fighting the Germans and is caught up in the Polish underground. Before long, her boyfriend, sister and mother are all arrested and sent to a women's concentration camp for "re-education", a place where Nazi doctors performed unsavory operations on human subjects. This story reminds us all of the horror of Nazi Germany, of the huge numbers of people they killed, of all nationalities and backgrounds, and of the madness that Hitler was able to convince so many people to believe. Kasia throughout the story is brave, tough, but not entirely unbroken.
Finally, the most gut-wrenching parts of the story involve Herta, a Nazi doctor that somehow convinces herself that she is doing the right thing, the patriotic thing. It was so sickening to read that sometimes I had to put the book down and look away, as much as Kasia's sections sucked me in and kept me turning pages. She's an anti-heroine, but it's still important to understand her story, and what drove her - and she is a key part of the total story that is told. Don't worry - she doesn't get away with it and you never truly sympathise with her.
The book was well-written and apparently well-researched judging by the notes. The author was a former journalist and that shows the mark of it, and yet, it reads as fiction even though many of the characters were real people of that time period.
I highly recommend this book to anyone, but especially to those who like books like "The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah or "Sara's Key" by Tatiana de Rosnay. Perfect for book clubs. There is so much in this book that would lend itself to great discussions. If I were you, I would pre-order this book.