Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Good Evening All,

Soon to be good morning, I’m writing this so late. I’ve had an absolutely lovely evening out for dinner with some work friends and I’m staying in a hotel tonight, so I thought I’d get this review written whilst I’ve got a little bit of downtime in my room before bed. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly is the March book of the month for the book club I am apart of and was chosen in honour of international women’s day. This was definitely an appropriate book for the category.

In the late 1930s, three women from across the world lead very different lives. Caroline Ferriday is a New York socialite that dedicates her time to working at the French consulate. Kasia Kuzmerick is a polish teenager, living a carefree life with her friends. Herta Oberheuser is a German doctor, struggling to find her way in a career dominated by men. When Hitler’s army invade Poland in 1939, all of their lives change forever when they are plunged into a world that they never anticipated they would encounter. Across different continents, the three women are impacted by the Nazi’s in very different ways, but their stories ultimately align.

I feel like I’ve read quite a few WW2 books in the last year or so and all of them have been quite different. I enjoyed this one just as much as the others. I enjoyed that Lilac Girls was told through the women’s perspectives and that all of their experiences of the atrocities of WW2 were different. The characterisation in this book was so good and I ended up having quite strong opinions about each of the women by the time they got to the end.

I spent part 1 of the book feeling quite impartial about Caroline. Although she helped in the best way that she could and put all of her efforts into working at the French consulate, I couldn’t help but feel that she was slightly naive to what was happening in Europe. This was very unfair and harsh as in part 2 I feel like her character really matured and changed. She sincerely turned into a hero.

I don’t know where to start with Herta. I’ve been asked if I think if she deserved sympathy and my strong answer is a definite no. Regardless of what you have been conditioned to, some things are undeniably inhumane and I can’t imagine ever getting to a place where I thought that certain things were acceptable. Right to the end, I didn’t have any positive feelings towards this woman.

Kasia was my favourite character in the book. I found her to be strong and incredibly brave. Her story was heartbreaking and had me close to tears at times. There were a few moments during part 2 where I doubted her likability and I thought she was a little bit bratty until I reminded myself of her journey and gave my head a little wobble!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Although difficult to stomach at times, the stories told were inspiring and humbling. I love reading a book that makes me step back and feel grateful for the times that we live in and how very lucky we all are. I hear that there is a sequel to this book; Lost Roses which had already been added to my TBR list.



“After that, we were like flies stuck in honey, alive but not really living.” – Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

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