Okay, so I know I’ve given a number of books 5 stars, and I don’t really do that lightly. But, Lilac Girls should get 10!
It was much better than All the Light We Cannot See by a thousand times and than Goldfinch by ten thousand times. And, please, Underground Railroad isn’t even in the same league.
She peoples this amazing novel with genuine as well as fictitious characters. . She did incredible research to tell this story without distorting history. Her writing is beautiful, swift, captivating and accurate. Do not miss reading this book!
Okay so what’s the story about? Everything begins in 1939 in New York City, Poland, and Germany. We have three point-of-view characters, Caroline in New York, Kasia in Poland and Herta in Germany. Each tells her story in her own way. The voices are clearly as different as the setting. As a reader, I had a hard time being in Herta’s point of view. But, reading it helped me better understand the birth of Nazism in war-torn Germany. As a reader, I struggled with Kasia in her point of view because I did not wish to experience the atrocities. Nonetheless in the hands of this skilled author, I devoured the pages without regret.
The saga goes from 1939 to 1959 and shows what happened to these three women during and after the war. Initially I wanted to story to end at the end of the war, but that wouldn’t have been fair. Indeed, we must keep going to get a better historical perspective. The author knew that even if I didn’t. What Kelly does is teach us about certain atrocities that have not been made fully public. She also tells the story about an unsung heroine in Caroline Ferriday. I thank her for both those things.
This story is full of love, relationships, anger, grief and much more. It will tug at your emotions. But, it wraps up beautifully. Be sure to read the author’s note at the end to fully understand the people and who they were.
Unfortunately this was Martha Hall Kelly’s first novel. I wanted to read more from her. Her passion about what happened to the Lilac Girls and how they survived rings true on every page. Will the author find passion elsewhere? We will just have to hope so and wait and see.