Spanning the decades from 1939-1959, the lives of three women of different nationalites intersect and follow the course of World War II and beyond. Young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, ambitious to secure a position in medicine, is assigned to 'treat' the inmates of Ravensbruck concentration camp. Polish teen, Kasis Kuzmerick, courier in the underground resistance movement, is arrested and sentenced for 'reeducation' at Ravensbruck. American socialite Caroline Ferriday, volunteer for the French consulate in New York, generously works to secure care packages for the orphans of war. Once Hitler invades Poland and Ms. Ferriday learns the plight of Ravensbruck's women prisoners, she tirelessly re-dedicates her efforts to their rescue. Told in the alternating voices of Herta, Kasis and Caroline, this is a story of not only incredible suffering and loss, but also of ultimate freedom and second chances. Based on the actual life of Caroline Ferriday, as extensively researched by the author, readers will be touched by this extraordinary story of women who symbolize the lilacs that survive the hardships of winter only to bloom again in the spring. Historical fiction at its best!— Jane Glaser
April 2016 Indie Next List
“Lilac Girls is a powerful and moving debut told through the voices of three women during World War II. Caroline is a New York socialite working at the French consulate and sending care packages to French orphans. Kasia, a young Polish girl, is arrested for helping the underground resistance and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. Herta is the only female German surgeon stationed at Ravensbruck. The way these three women's lives intersect both during and after the war will grip you and tug at your heartstrings. I would recommend this to anyone who loved Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale.”
— Melissa Law (W), Island Bookstore, Corolla, NC
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
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.
“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
“[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