Monday, May 22, 2017

Book Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Adult, Historical Fiction
Publication Date:April 5, 2016
Pages:487 (Hardcover)
Published By:  Ballantine Books
Website:Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls on Goodreads
My review copy:
Received in Once Upon a Bookcase Club Box

Where to get:


Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and secrets that were hidden for decades.
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.


Somewhere in a corner of our hearts, we are always twenty.
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.
Turning oneself to the misfortunes of others is the best way to dispense with personal troubles. Hadn’t Lord Byron himself said, “The busy have no time for tears”
It’s just a thing, Kasia. Don’t waste your energy on the hate. That will kill you sure as anything. Focus on keeping your strength. You’re resourceful. Find a way to outsmart them.

      Written with compassion, but also unflinching objectivity, Lilac Girls is an absolutely riveting and haunting WWII story about brutality of war, courage, love and survival. Boasting a diverse, incredibly well drawn cast of characters, it's a profoundly affecting, often-times completely devastating and heart-breaking look at Holocaust through the eyes of three very different women - a Polish girl named Kasia, an ambitious German doctor, and an American philanthropist working for French embassy in New York.

     This book was... Everything and more! I am so thankful to Michelle from @onceuponabookclubbox for choosing it for her first adult box, otherwise it's likely I would've missed it! Or I would've at least put off reading it. Once I started reading, I couldn't put this book down. The writing style was incredibly compelling and heartfelt, and the alternating points of view offered a great deal of insight, not only into the minds of people trying to survive the concentration camps, but also into those on the other side of "the fence", like Herta, or even people across the ocean, observing the events from afar, trying to help those affected. All three women had fascinating, breath-taking stories to tell, and they all invoked many feelings in me. I despised Herta, despite the rare glimpses of her humanity, she was not a very positive character. I liked Caroline and admired her for the work she did during and after the War. And most of all, I connected on more than one level with Kasia. As someone who grew up in Poland and had grandparents directly affected by the War, I sympathized with Kasia, I understood her struggles and fears, I respected her strength and defiance. I loved her. I loved everything about her. She was an absolutely marvelous character - one that is an inspiration to me, now and forever. 

     Not only is Lilac Girls a beautifully written, engaging, often times shocking and heartbreaking story, it's also - or most of all - very powerful and important, and so relevant to our times! I loved the the different perspectives and how the characters' lives intertwine with one another, I loved Martha's absorbing and evocative writing style, and I loved that the story continued beyond the War years, to show us the consequences and how everyone was affected by the War events in the years after. It was a phenomenal reading experience and Martha is one ️immensely talented writer that I will be following closely from now on!

Once Upon a Bookcase Box:

I received the book in the very first Once Upon a Book Club box, and if you don't know what that is, let me enlighten you: it's the most fabulous subscription box ever. Michelle, the lady-boss behind this box, picks a book every month and then adds 3-5 special gifts that come beautifully wrapped and numbered with certain pages. Once you reach a certain page, you get to open the gift. All the gifts are related to the story, too! They're super meaningful and make the reading experience so much more amazing!

Take a look at the photos of the book box I got and if you're interested in subscribing, Michelle now offers the adult version and the young adult version of this box, and you can use code EVIEBOOKISH for 10% off!!!

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