NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Martha Hall Kelly’s million-copy bestseller Lilac Girls introduced readers to Caroline Ferriday. Now, in Sunflower Sisters, Kelly tells the story of Ferriday’s ancestor Georgeanna Woolsey, a Union nurse during the Civil War whose calling leads her to cross paths with Jemma, a young enslaved girl who is sold off and conscripted into the army, and Anne-May Wilson, a Southern plantation mistress whose husband enlists.
“An exquisite tapestry of women determined to defy the molds the world has for them.”—Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours
Georgeanna “Georgey” Woolsey isn’t meant for the world of lavish parties and the demure attitudes of women of her stature. So when war ignites the nation, Georgey follows her passion for nursing during a time when doctors considered women on the battlefront a bother. In proving them wrong, she and her sister Eliza venture from New York to Washington, D.C., to Gettysburg and witness the unparalleled horrors of slavery as they become involved in the war effort.
In the South, Jemma is enslaved on the Peeler Plantation in Maryland, where she lives with her mother and father. Her sister, Patience, is enslaved on the plantation next door, and both live in fear of LeBaron, an abusive overseer who tracks their every move. When Jemma is sold by the cruel plantation mistress Anne-May at the same time the Union army comes through, she sees a chance to finally escape—but only by abandoning the family she loves.
Anne-May is left behind to run Peeler Plantation when her husband joins the Union army and her cherished brother enlists with the Confederates. In charge of the household, she uses the opportunity to follow her own ambitions and is drawn into a secret Southern network of spies, finally exposing herself to the fate she deserves.
Inspired by true accounts, Sunflower Sisters provides a vivid, detailed look at the Civil War experience, from the barbaric and inhumane plantations, to a war-torn New York City, to the horrors of the battlefield. It’s a sweeping story of women caught in a country on the brink of collapse, in a society grappling with nationalism and unthinkable racial cruelty, a story still so relevant today.
This vibrant saga explores the historical ancestor of Kelly's Lost Roses heroine Caroline Ferriday, abolitionist Georgeanna "Georgy" Woolsey. In 1861, Georgy, 28, abandons her privileged New York City debutante's life to volunteer in a nursing brigade for the Union Army alongside her sister, Eliza. Running parallel to this narrative is the plight of Jemma, a literate enslaved Maryland woman who, after being sold off by sadistic mistress Anne-May Watson, must choose between her family and a fleeting opportunity for freedom. After Jemma escapes her new plantation dressed up as a boy, she is conscripted into the Union Army. When Anne-May, now a Confederate spy, hears the news, she pursues Jemma for help. The strands eventually converge in the novel's satisfying second half, when Jemma is taken in by Georgy's family, while Anne-May obsessively searches for her. The vivid, impeccably researched saga briskly sweeps across war-torn battlefields, New York City, and Southern plantations, highlighting the struggles endured by her women characters. This page-turning work is sure to please Kelly's fans.
Stunning Historical Fiction
Sunflower Sisters is a beautifully written story of three women - a slave owner, a slave and an abolitionist nurse. This book concludes the Lilac Girls series and does not need to be read in order to understand and enjoy. So much of this story is built around actual facts from the time period and war which makes it incredibly engrossing for the reader.
Jemma, a teenage slave who works a plantation in Maryland suffer cruelly at the hands of the owner, Anne-May. All Jemma craves is freedom for herself and her family.
After being sold and recruited into the war, Jemma crosses paths with Georgy, a war nurse in Gettysburg. She soon finds herself a guest in the Woolsey family home in NYC and in the care of Georgy.
What transpires in the pages is a story of greed, compassion and lasting love in times of extreme peril during the Civil War. This book is filled with wrenching details of slavery, the war and challenges women faced to be seen as equal in knowledge to the male counterparts in nursing.
Thank you PRHA for the courtesy copy for an honest review.
This was a wonderful read.
There was great detail about the people, homes & circumstances of the time. It’s a history & story book in one! This was a wonderful read. I now have a better understanding of the times & how they lived & all reacted to the the changing events. The Civil War truly changed our Country!
Beautiful story of history