Friday, March 24, 2017

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (audiobook)

genre: historical fiction

Three women.  Three countries.  One war.

Caroline Ferriday lives a glittering New York City life, volunteering at the French Consulate and supporting whatever other charities catch her fancy.

In Lublin, Poland, Kasia Kuzmerick is a typical teenager when Nazi forces invade her homeland and her heart forces her to take a stand.

Herta Oberheuser is trying to make a place for herself as a doctor and a female in an increasingly hostile Germany.  When she sees a job opening at a reeducation camp, it seems like the perfect place to begin to get some real medical experience.

After two different friends from very different parts of my life recommended this book to me over a short period, I decided to make it be my next audiobook.  I was hooked from the start.  The three distinct voices (all very well performed) helped me to immerse myself in this World War II story of destruction and unthinkable evil that somehow produces stories of hope, courage and kindness.   I have to say that our author did well having Herta as one of the narrators.  It is HARD to read the point of view of the enemy - it humanizes them in a way that makes swift judgements complicated.  I feel like it made the story far deeper and more powerful to have some sense of her side of the story - not that it frees her from blame but that it gives us a sense of how complicated it was to be a German, especially a woman trying to practice medicine, at that time.

It took a while for me to figure out how all three of these women would come together but I really was engaged in how it did and I especially like that it is based on true events. I appreciated that our story went far beyond the end of the war, not shying from the emotional implications of experiencing the kind of trauma that concentration camp survivors endured even though they were freed. Sometimes the big jumps in time felt a tiny bit discombobulating but it didn't ever take long for me to feel settled again.. I wept at the end, amazed at the power that truth and knowledge can give to us.

If you enjoy World War II literature as I do, I'd suspect you'll find this a unique addition to the genre. I thought the audio was excellently done.

1 comment:

Sarah Zama said...

This sounds like a truly powerful story. I'm fascinated with war stories lately (especially WWI, but WWII too), I'm not sure why. I really like that this novel tries to give the prespective of the 'enemy' too.
I always think it's easy to consider the Germans as the enemy, but it truth, these were people just like everyone else, not alien from another world.

This goes straight in my TBR list. Thanks so much for sharing :-)

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