Lilac Girls - Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls

By Martha Hall Kelly

  • Release Date: 2016-04-05
  • Genre: Historical
Score: 4.5
From 804 Ratings


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 remarkable debut novel reveals the power of unsung women to change history in their quest for love, freedom, and second chances.

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

“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

“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


  • lilac girls

    By rthomas hughes
    immersive, educational, sobering
  • The women of Ravensbrück

    By Joanabake
    I was mesmerized by this book, and the totally different stories of each woman involved in the only Nazi concentration camp for females. I found the writing to be intelligent and expressive, without sentimentality but with great insight.
  • Lilac Girls

    By Done forever
    It would be a mistake not to read this book. I'm going to buy it in hard cover, too, so that I include it in my small collection of books that I will read more than once. It's horrifying and unimaginable how Hitler, one man, was the catalyst for years of terrorizing and incentivizing people to assist in his insane vision and hatred. I'm 53 and every time I read books on this subject it boggles my mind.
  • Compelling

    By Vice Dean
    Who knew? Yes, I know about so many evils of WWII but not this one. Like so many others, I couldn't put it down. This was a very important presentation and the information needs to be made more prominent among the other horrors of that time. And, the question that I ask myself and others, "What would you have done?" No easy answer there.
  • One of the best books i have read

    By npe214
    Loved his book. The three stories and how hey all live in parallel. Outstanding read!
  • Lilac girls

    By Sean/Rachel
    Must read
  • The Lilac Girls

    By Bdus69
    A must read!
  • Lilac Girls

    By Reading Giant
    My gritting teeth, my stopped heart, and my gasping breath wanted to put this book down, but my hand kept turning pages.
  • Amazing Read

    By Alltakenfu
    I have read many books on World War II, this was one of the very best. When I read some of the previous reviews, the one from Urrrg on April 2nd really says it best. This is a must read for all Americans who think we have such a horrible life and country. The strength of the women who were put through such horrors and survived even stronger is such an inspiration. Thank you for this book!
  • Lovely, heartfelt, extremely engaging!

    By psniaki
    Incredible, gripping, unforgettable story... I could hardly put it down. There were, however, a few things that annoyed me throughout. I've lost count of how many times the author uses the word "bosom", or gave the meaning of a character's name in order to make a point about their personality. Caroline's relationship with Paul was unconvincing and difficult to like, and her role in the bigger story seemed pointless for at least the first 300 pages. Although each chapter is told from a different character's point of view, the speaking style were are awfully similar, so that it's obvious that the author is writing in their place. I was expecting each character to have their own unique voice, as is accurate if one were to read their diaries. There are times where author introduces a character who has already been introduced a few pages before... and if she forgot that she had already done so. A times the setting, characters' clothes, and speaking style was not in line with that of the war-time era. And last but not least, I think that starting the book with Caroline in NYC was a weak start, because Kasia's and Herta's stories were far more attention-grabbing.