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Lilac Girls: A Novel by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls: A Novel (edition 2017)

by Martha Hall Kelly (Author)

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1,5651227,081 (4.01)113
Title:Lilac Girls: A Novel
Authors:Martha Hall Kelly (Author)
Info:Ballantine Books (2017), Edition: Reprint, 512 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly



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Showing 1-5 of 127 (next | show all)
Lilac Girls had me on an emotional roller coaster. I had to keep putting the book down because I felt drained, but I wanted to keep reading and so I'd almost immediately pick it up again.

The author doesn't shy away from details here. These women, the Rabbits, endured horrors most of us can't even begin to imagine. But this book is so much more than a tale of torture at the hands of Nazi doctors. We see strength, resilience, hope, love, and survival. We see the worst and the best of human nature.

Martha Hall Kelly doesn't simply show us this piece of history; she puts us there and lets us experience it for ourselves. This book is difficult to read largely because we know the facts are true. Yet Kelly manages to keep us from falling into the misery. The writing always maintains an underlying glimmer of hope.

The three women who are the focus of this story offer the perfect examples of courage and heroism. This is a powerful story that honors a group of women who deserve to remain a part of our collective memory. ( )
  Darcia | Mar 18, 2019 |
There are not enough stars for all the people who suffered and died during this outrageous time in our history. Caroline Ferriday should receive 3 stars for helping 35 of the Ravensbruck Rabbits get treatment after the war. And I thank Martha Hall Kelly for bringing the Ravensbruck Rabbits to my attention. I had not heard about them before.
But I did not enjoy this book. It felt too much like Chick-lit when I was expecting Historical Fiction.
The romance between Caroline Ferriday and Paul Rodierre is completely fiction and non-essential to the story. Also, too much time was spent of describing the fashion of the day while the horrors of the war were taking place. Totally unacceptable.
Why did Doctor Herta Oberhauser go from an idealistic doctor to a monster in the blink of an eye? I wanted to know how she changed so quickly.
Once again, I thank the author for bringing the horrors of the Ravensbruck Rabbits to my attention. ( )
  jtsolakos | Mar 8, 2019 |
Gripping retelling of a little known true WWII practice at Ravensbruck. Polish women's legs were incised, the wounds deliberately infected and various early antibiotics introduced to test their efficacy.
About 10 years after the war Caroline Ferriday, an American Philanthropist, arranged to bring several dozen of these women to the USA for treatment which made a huge difference to their lives. ( )
  Lit.Lover | Feb 20, 2019 |
This was a very difficult book to read, not because of the writing, which was excellent, but because of the story. It is based on a group of women, known as "The Rabbits" who were experimented on in an All Women's Camp known as Ravensbruk and an American Woman who heard their story and tried to rectify some of the wrongs. As another reviewer said, It is a horrific and haunting read of the atrocities humans can commit.

Martha Hall Kelly 's story is centered around three women with three very different situations during WWII. Each chapter is narrated by one of the three women. Kasia is an 18 year girl from Lublin, Poland who had just begun to get involved in Underground activities. She was observed delivering a package and she, her mother (Matka, Halina), her sister (Zuzanna) and the sister of her friend (Luisa) were arrested and sent to Ravensbruck for "re-education". Caroline Ferriday is a 30ish single former actress living in New York. She comes from a wealthy family and is very involved in charity activities, especially the French Orphans. The one character not based on history is Paul Rodierre, the man she comes to love. He is a married frenchman who rounds out her character nicely. The last woman is Herta Oberheuser, a German woman who has just passed her medical exams and is eager to begin working as a doctor. Because the Nazis do not think female doctors are proper, the only position she can get is as a dermatologist. When that does not support her or her ill father, she takes a job as a doctor at Ravensbruck.

Much of the story takes place in this women-only Concentration Camp. The telling of the atrocities, the way the women are treated and the medical experiments performed on these women was awful to read about. I had never heard of the Ravensbruck Rabbits and this story was compelling. Kasia and her sister both end up being "rabbits" The story does not end there, when the war ends, the women have a terrible time adjusting to life. There is very poor medical care and they do not improve. When Caroline Ferriday finds out about this group, she steps up to assist.

Because this story is based on true events, there are resources at the end of the book you can search out for more information. This was a sad yet compelling read. I recommend it to anyone interested in WWII, the plight of the war victims or those interested in humanity. ( )
  Carlathelibrarian | Feb 5, 2019 |
Informative novel based on real events at Ravensbruck concentration camp where 40,000 mostly Polish women political prisoners were held, tortured by brutal hard labor, starvation, killer dogs, overcrowding, unsanitary conditions for years. Older women were killed by lethal injections.

Lilac Girls focuses on over 70 women chosen for cruel sulfonamide experiments to prove that sulfa drugs would not have saved hitler's friend Reinhard Heydrich from dying after his car was bombed. Bones and muscle were removed, and parts of legs were amputated and transplanted onto other women! Those who had horrible reactions were killed. Those that survived experienced unbearable pain and had to hobble around like rabbits, the name they were given by their fellow prisoners. Many prisoners helped the Rabbits survive and hide when nazis wanted to kill them to hide their culpability.

As war ended, some prisoners including rabbits were welcomed by Sweden where they were nursed back to health but the rabbits needed more sophisticated and advanced care. And this is where the Ferridays, mother and daughter step up, and offer resources in France, and later ask the US to help these women. Americans responded generously allowing over 30 women to fly here and receive surgical, physical and mental treatment to improve their lives.

Heartwrenching story with a heartening heroine determined to push the envelope; and get these innocent abused women what they needed most, medical care, justice and reparations from Germany!

Good read though at times I had to stop to give myself a chance to process the pain of what I read.
  Bookish59 | Jan 25, 2019 |
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To my husband, Michael, who still makes my compact go click.
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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.
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Caroline Ferriday, a socialite in New York, has her hands full with her post at the French consulate, but on the eve of a fateful war, her world is changed forever when Hitler's army invades Poland in September, 1939; and then sets its sights on France. Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, an ocean away from Caroline, 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 suspcting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences. For Herta Oberheuser, the ambitious young German doctor, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, Herta 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 Ravensbr?uck, 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. -- Container.… (more)

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