Review: Martha Hall Kelly, Lilac Girls

51z8VMOtG9LTime for another review from my July book haulLilac Girls is based on a true story about three women from vastly different parts of the world, whose lives intertwine during and after World War II. Caroline is a former Broadway actress, now New York socialite, who works sending care packages to orphaned French children. Kaisa is a young, Polish teen who joins the underground movement. Herta is one of the few female surgeons in Germany.

The story starts off like most WWII novels: the reader gets a glimpse of everyday life for each woman. Then, everything changes rapidly when Germany invades Poland. Kelly throws her characters into difficult situations right away, making a happy ending seem almost impossible.

This novel spends a great deal inside a concentration camp, which is something I haven’t really seen in any other novels I’ve read so far. Kelly shows us how the camp was organized, and what the daily schedule was. The girls’ fear feels so real, that I could picture this place as if I was really there in the mid 40s.

There is also a massive contrast between the women’s lives. Kaisa’s story is constant suspense, while Caroline’s is much more laid-back and civil. Herta’s seems the same at first, but gradually becomes more and more chilling as the novel went on. I spent a good part of the novel trying to understand why Caroline was even part of the story, since her story seemed so drastically different than the other two.

This book is a good read for someone who enjoys WWII historical fiction. It is a good read for someone who enjoys love stories with happy endings. There is not, however, anything flowery or delicate about this story.


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