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Lilac Girls Review: Back-of-Book Description
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • One million copies sold! Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this remarkable debut novel reveals the power of unsung women to change history in their quest for love, freedom, and second chances.
“Extremely moving and memorable . . . This impressive debut should appeal strongly to historical fiction readers and to book clubs that adored Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See.”—Library Journal (starred review)
New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.
An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, 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 suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.
For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she 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 Ravensbrück, 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.
USA Today “New and Noteworthy” Book • LibraryReads Top Ten Pick
So I’m pretty sure I picked up Lilac Girls at my local book store about two or three years ago when I had a gift card. The store attendant helped me pick some books that were getting good reviews and that matched my interests – bless her heart.
But then, of course, I let it sit on the shelf for a while. It wasn’t until an online book club I’m in said they were reading it for September that I decided to give it a try. I mean, who doesn’t;t love the chance to discuss a book with strangers!?
Well…it took me most of September to get through it. I had to really push myself to keep going. I’ve read a lot of historical fiction especially those around World War II, but this one just did not grab me as other ones have.
To be fair to the amount of time it took me, it was close to 500 pages. But I really think it was the story itself: it just didn’t grip me. It’s told from three very different perspectives – a thirty-something woman in New York involved with charities, a younger woman in Poland, and a German doctor (her age wasn’t relevant).
In theory, that has all the makings of a totally amazing plot with compelling stories from their perspectives. But in reality, and in my opinion, it just felt a little flat. The author skimmed over some things that seemed really big and that should have been given more detail and emotion. Then, she spent a lot of time on seemingly frivolous details that played little to no part in the actual plot.
The characters themselves were ok… I found compelling things from each of them. But they didn’t feel very real to me. Their emotions seemed too shallow given the time period. Or maybe like too flippant and wishy-washy – easily changed in a moment with not enough depth given to the process.
The dialogue also felt clunky at times. Some character responses didn’t seem to line up – or maybe it was just that I didn’t get the tone of the conversation?
Actually, for the entire book, I suppose it’s possible that I just didn’t “get” the author’s tone.
The settings were pretty good for the most part. I was able to clearly picture most places, including the concentration camp where part of it took place. Part of my ability to do so may have something to do with the fact that I was fortunate (if that’s the right word) enough to have visited Auschwitz when I traveled in Europe. So the gravity of that kind of location and all that happened there was very present in my mind.
But then maybe that experience is why I didn’t think the book was deep enough? Hmm. Could be.
In any case, the writing overall was alright. It was written as though the author lived in that time period which offered an authentic quality. I didn’t completely hate it but I also didn’t love it.
Buy It Now!
Favorite Quotes from Lilac Girls
“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.”
“After that, we were like flies stuck in honey, alive but not really living.”
“Don’t waste your energy on the hate. That will kill you sure as anything.”
“I knew too well that loose ends tend to unravel.”
“We each carried our own bag of troubles.”
“Turning oneself to the misfortunes of others is the best way to dispense with personal troubles.”
Lilac Girls Review: In Conclusion
Unfortunately, I just did not think that this book was as good as others had said it was. I found Lilac Girls kind of disappointing, so I’m only giving it 3 stars. My main complaint is that, for this time period, I found the writing a little flat and unemotional at times. I also don’t think all the characters were given the story arc they deserved.
To be fair to the writer and the book, I have read a lot of emotionally charged stories about this time period (like Mischling or The Nightingale), so maybe if you’re new to this genre/time period it would be a good way to ease in?
Also, I know plenty of people who’ve read it and felt differently. So if you give it a shot, please let me know in the comments what you think! I’d love a good discussion about it!