Book Review: Lilac Girls

Ashley Abbott
Bookworm

“After that, we were like flies stuck in honey, alive but not really living.”

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

3 out of 4 stars

Torn on this one. History side is an important and insane part of WWII not often discussed and I enjoyed how the author presented the story of the Rabbits. Well documented. Fiction parts frustrated me a little and I’m not sure I finished this with all the closure I’d like.

I also had a REALLY hard time finding this book. Visited several book stores in my city and none of them had it. Finally I gave in an purchased the kindle format on Amazon.

Highly recommend reading the authors notes at the end. This book had multiple heartbreaking moments that stayed with me well after finishing chapters. Hit me hard emotionally.

“Retrouvailles, another one of those words that do not translate into English, which means “the happiness of meeting someone you love again after a long time.”

Below I’ll highlight why I gave it three stars instead of four DO NOT READ if you haven’t finished book as there may be SPOILERS


Kelly apparently wrote this book after becoming fascinated with the real life Caroline Ferriday. I find that interesting because the Caroline in this book came off as fairly weak/prudish to me and much of her story was centered around a fictional romance. I did enjoy the character of Paul but was very frustrated with Caroline’s attitude towards him at the final stages of the story. For all the drama and stretching out of their non-relationship there was zero closure at the conclusion.

When writing from Caroline’s perspective Kelly uses a lot of flowery and descriptive language (almost too much for me and and I had to make myself push through her first few chapters) but when she **switches to Kasia and Herta’s perspectives the language almost turns childlike. **

Kasia came off as super naive and lacking in common sense. My favorite parts of her story were her mother and sometimes her sister. Talk about survivors. And obviously the entire community of the Rabbits - that is what truly made Kasia’s story.

I found zero redeeming qualities in Herta. The way she was written was almost like she was on the spectrum and lacking any emotional intelligence. Everything she did was selfish, even at the end trying to save her career - she was the epitome of brainwashed. I also had no closure with her story conclusion.

I went into this read thinking the women would be working together at some point (especially going off the cover) but the closest thing was Kasia and Caroline at the end. Finding out what happened to Makta was the most heartbreaking moment for me but I am thankful the author gave closure on that point.