Thursday, 19 January 2017

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls is about three women. Caroline Ferriday lives in New York as a volunteer for the French consulate, sending care packages to orphaned children. Kasia Kuzmerick is a teenager in Poland, falling in love, hanging out with her best friend when war breaks out and Herta Oberhauser is an ambitious young doctor in Germany.

Told in alternating third person narrative, the story starts off centred around Caroline (who is the only real historical person), then balances on Kasia for a while, before settling on Herta - who is based on real person Nina Ivanska.

I love historical fiction, and World War II from a women's perspective is a treat, although less rare these days - there are so many other books in the genre. This explores the horrific medical experiments performed on the so-called "rabbits" in Ravensbruck, the only concentration camp set up exclusively for women.

The audible narration was superb, the reader had excellent accents, and I felt drawn in from the very first page. Caroline's story felt a little trivial compared to the other two, although all three were necessary.

It really hung together for me when I read the author's note at the end however, and realised how much Martha Hall Kelly had let history tell a story. I love that, and the tale of how she had uncovered this was almost as good as the book itself.

A heartfelt 4 stars.

ISBN: 9781101883075

You may also enjoy The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah or Two Brothers by Ben Elton.


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