NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • One million copies sold! Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this remarkable debut novel reveals the power of unsung women to change history in their quest for love, freedom, and second chances.
“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)
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.
USA Today “New and Noteworthy” Book • LibraryReads Top Ten Pick
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Based on a true story, Martha Hall Kelly’s riveting debut explores the little-known plight of the Ravensbrück Rabbits: 74 healthy Polish women whom Nazi doctors used for ghastly experiments during World War II. Fictionalizing the perspectives of historical figures, Kelly tells the story of Kasia, a hobbled Rabbit survivor; Herta, a German medical student who shape-shifts into an icy war criminal; and Caroline, an American philanthropist and the Rabbits’ tireless advocate. Full of heartbreak and atrocity, Lilac Girls left us speechless and shocked yet again at the hidden stories of the war.
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.
Powerful and moving
A story told of concentration camps, love and life from different viewpoints. Some parts disturbing but necessary to fully understand the significance of the plot. A great read.
I would have taken at least another 1000 pages... Good historical book! Thanks a lot