Lilacs bloom best after a harsh winter Caroline tells her Polish friend Kasia, two of the three main characters in this story of Ravensbruck, the only concentration camp exclusively female in Germany during the Nazi reign of terror.
And, indeed, Kasia had the harshest of winters as she spent several years along with her mother and her sister in that camp. The third person that shares the story is Dr. Herta Oberheuser a physician at the camp. Through her eyes we see her initial horror about the treatment of the prisoners but also how she is able to depersonalize them and come to support Hitler’s notion of a pure race.
As Caroline watches from the safety of the French Embassy in New York, she is determined to make things right with those who underwent the experiments once the population is released from the camp. This novel is based on a true story and the author provides information for further reading in this tragic period of Western history. It is both an appalling and uplifting read for all book clubs.
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. Ballantine Books/Penguin Random House; ISBN 9781101883082; $17.
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