Historical Fiction

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly ★★★★★

This is a fictional story of the real-life women who were subjected to medical experiments at Hitler’s Ravensbrüch concentration camp, the only one exclusively for women. The story is told from three narratives: Caroline Ferriday, a New York debutant and socialite who worked tirelessly on behalf of French orphans before and at the war’s outbreak; Kasia Kuzmerick, a young Polish woman who was subjected to these experiments at Ravensbrüch; and Herta Oberheuser, one of the camp doctors (the only female one) conducting the experiments.

I thought I was familiar with most of the atrocities of the Holocaust but the plight of these women, referred to as the Ravensbrüch Rabbits because of the abnormalities of their gaits resulting from the tests, was a new account for me. Using the voices of a victim, perpetrator and savior helped to vividly portray the complete perspective. As distasteful and dispassionate as I found Herta’s point of view, it was essential to the story and made a big difference.

One of the reasons I enjoy historical fiction is the opportunity to learn something about a period of time that I didn’t know previously. So much of this story was enlightening and I especially liked learning about Caroline Ferriday who is not a fictional character and lived a life of charity and substance. It’s a haunting, difficult story but I’m glad I read this book, one of unlikely heroes and incredible sisterhood.


Vintage Photos


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11 thoughts on “Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly ★★★★★”

  1. When I read this sort of book, I enjoy it. I learn and ponder on it. But most of the time, honestly, I don’t choose this genre because I have enough trouble in my life. It’s brave and wonderful to read it. Excellent review. Anne – Books of My Heart

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