The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly a book that take real people and actions during World War II and creates a compelling work of fiction that fells very true. Lilac Girls follows three women Kasia a Polish teenager who works for the underground against the Nazis, Herta a young German doctor that works at women’s German prison camp, and Caroline an American that volunteers at the French Consulate and helps the war effort. These tails are all connected in some way and intermingle at times. Tis story is a bout the war but also after it and about how broken the war tore apart these countries. This is the first book that really deals with the war and the aftermath, where most novels stop at the end of the war, lilac girls takes place in 1939 and goes up until 1959 way after the war was over. This novel has a serious melodramatic tone but there a plethora of emotions these ladies go through some have highs when others have lows, that balance really helps with the flow of the novel.
The Plot: Caroline is a former broadway star, that now dedicates her life volunteering at the French Consulate in America. When a big star drops out last minute of a charity ball she get Paul a current broadway performer that is French. Caroline falls big for him but he’s married, there marriage has no love anymore with him living full time her and her back in France. Things are heating up between the two of them when Germany invades France. Paul can’t just leave his wife there and journey’s back with Carolines help securing a visa for them both, but things don’t go as planned. Kasia is a young Polish teenager when Poland is invaded by Germany, she’s half german half polish, which makes her not good enough she has friends that our Jewish and taken away. She ‘s young but wants to do something, she joins the underground, a resistance works to overthrow German rule in Poland. She gets caught and declares her and certain members of her family enemies of the state and sent to a Concentration Camp. Herta is a young German woman working her way to be a doctor, she wants to help people. The war happens and she gets a job at the only place that will hire her a doctor at a Concentration Camp. She soon finds out the job isn’t about keeping prisoners well but performing experiments. Will she comply and throw away every thing she believes in or not?
What I Liked: The history is mingled in really seamlessly, and really easy to follow the events. I liked that this novel doesn’t show just how badly the Jewish people were treated, but everyone else who went against Germany. The novel really explains country pride and how that is used to motivate. The aftermath of the war is very eye opening I think this is the first story that I’ve read that goes into detail about how the war messed up people, places, and finances. This story easily wraps the reader up form the start. The switching between narrators was really effective in terms of story and not confusing to the reader. The twist and turns are written really well and keep you on your toes. The acknowledgements go other what Kelly added and what she drew from with Caroline and Herta being based on the real people, it was really helpful, and neat to know how much was true.
What I Disliked: I thought there was a bit too much coincidence in the novel, you have how all the women are connected which I actually liked, but the story line had too many first time coincidences, for example there’s one scene with a lost baby, one that was taken from it’s mother at a camp and a character is sent to find, she finds the baby at the first place she looks, which I went really no exhaustive search. No characters spoke with an accent of inflection, even on attempts to speak english.
Recommendations: World War II fiction is my absolute favorite and this book is one of the better novels of it. Lilac Girls is the first in a series and I plan to read book 2 in the series Lost Roses soon. I recommend this book for historical history buff, women’s fiction this book has some kick butt female leads. The immersive writing reminded me of World War II fiction like The Alice Network by Kate Quinn and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I rated this book 5 out of 5 stars I acknowledge this books flaws but the fantastic story more than makes up for it.