On a September day in Manhattan in 1939, twenty-something Caroline Ferriday is consumed by her efforts to secure the perfect boutonniere for an important French diplomat and resisting the romantic advances of a married actor. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish Catholic teenager, is nervously anticipating the changes that are sure to come since Germany has declared war on Poland. As tensions rise abroad - and in her personal life - Caroline's interest in aiding the war effort in France grows and she eventually comes to hear about the dire situation at the Ravensbruck all-female concentration camp. At the same time, Kasia's carefree youth is quickly slipping away, only to be replaced by a fervor for the Polish resistance movement. Through Ravensbruck - and the horrific atrocities taking place there told in part by an infamous German surgeon, Herta Oberheuser - the two women's lives will converge in unprecedented ways and a novel of redemption and hope emerges that is breathtaking in scope and depth. From New York to Paris, and Furstenberg to Lublin, Martha Hall Kelly captures the powerful pull of human compassion, strong enough to stretch across continents and capable of triumphing over the grim evils of war. This is a striking story of an unsung heroine and her resolute will to right what is wrong.
MARTHA HALL KELLY is a native New Englander, now transplanted in Atlanta, Georgia, where she spends her days filling legal pads with stories and reading WWII books. 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
"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 Ravensbr ck."--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
Advance praise for Lilac Girls
An arresting, powerful debut novel inspired by the life of debutant-turned-WWII-hero Caroline Ferriday. For readers of Paula McLain, Jamie Ford, and Christina Baker Kline.
Chapter 1 Caroline September 1939 If I''d known I was about to meet the man who''d shatter me like bone china on terra-cotta, I would have slept in. Instead, I roused our florist, Mr. Sitwell, from his bed to make a boutonni