Lilac Girls: A Novel

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
April 2016
17 hours 30 minutes
Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this powerful debut novel reveals an incredible story of love, redemption, and terrible secrets that were hidden for decades.
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.
In Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly has crafted a remarkable novel of unsung women and their quest for love, freedom, and second chances. It is a story that will keep readers bonded with the characters, searching for the truth, until the final pages.

Narrator List:
CAROLINE, read by Cassandra Campbell
KASIA, read by Kathleen Gati
HERTA, read by Kathrin Kana
With the Author's Note read by the author.

Advance praise for Lilac Girls
“Inspired by actual events and real people, Martha Hall Kelly has woven together the stories of three women during World War II that reveal the bravery, cowardice, and cruelty of those days. This is a part of history—women’s history—that should never be forgotten.”—Lisa See, New York Times bestselling author of China Dolls
“This is the kind of book I wish I had the courage to write—a profound, unsettling, and thoroughly captivating look at sisterhood through the dark lens of the Holocaust. Lilac Girls is the best book I’ve read all year. It will haunt you.”—Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
“Rich with historical detail and riveting to the end, Lilac Girls weaves the lives of three astonishing women into a story of extraordinary moral power set against the harrowing backdrop of Europe in thrall to Nazi Germany. Martha Hall Kelly moves effortlessly across physical and ethical battlegrounds, across the trajectory of a doomed wartime romance, across the territory of the soul. I can’t remember the last time I read a novel that moved me so deeply.”—Beatriz Williams, New York Times bestselling author of A Hundred Summers and The Secret Life of Violet Grant
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Emmalene M.

Very well written book about such a tragic time in history that is well worth listening to. What strength these women had to have to endure such a horrific experience during the war. The narration is amazing! Makes it very easy to keep the characters separated.

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Tiffany C.

This book was beautifully written and was incredible to listen to. I had a very hard time pausing because I was too engrossed in it. The author did an amazing job researching and telling these stories.

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Brian J.

In writing this review I am speechless. I had reservations about reading this book because I didn't want to read something so sad. Yes there are hard parts, but this was one of the most meaningful books I have read. Don't hesitate to read this book, beautifully done!

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Linda E

Don't let the cover fool you. This is not a "ladies" book of fiction. I was shocked to learn the characters were real and that these experiments were performed on healthy people during WWII by Nazi doctors. I have told many friends about it and can't get this story out of my mind. The three narrators had great voices and accents that made it a memorable story.

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Carol M.

Enjoyed this story of the women whose lives were affected by the war. Look forward to reading the next in the series

I was worried this book would be too hard for me, but after reading all the reviews I decided to go ahead. I’m so glad I did, as I just couldn’t put it down. Even though it tells a difficult story, it is not dwell on the violence. I was crying listening to the author’s note at the end and realizing the three main characters had indeed existed. Thank you Martha Hell Belly for all your historical research and for this beautiful novel.

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Stacie Y

An amazing read!

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Britten E.

I read a blog that put it best in saying this is an amazing story in the hands of the wrong author. A few of my complaints: - why is time spent in the early chapters creating a backstory that will make you sympathize with the nazi war criminal? - contrastingly, why do they make the concentration camp survivor so unlikeable? you let her live happily ever after but make her an unbearable wife and cold absent mother? -you will be 13 hours into this 17 hour book before Caroline’s storyline becomes relevant. -Caroline’s love story never becomes relevant and should not have been included. It takes away from the legitimacy of her work. -could easily have been an ~11 hour audio book. Lots of filler. - overall, my biggest complaint is with the time framing. This author will spend chapters and chapters on one day with painstaking unnecessary detail, then skip 10 years ahead with no context. This really is a good story. The history of it is worth knowing. There was a lot of potential here. I was glad when it was over.

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Sherri M.

This is one I will listen to again! I love books focusing on this era and this one was wonderfully written. ❤️

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A very smutty book, sex orientated very disappointing.

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Jamie Z.

Absolute MUST read, and best done by audiobook as the 3 narrators for the 3 main characters could not have been better, making them so real and alive. The author has done an incredible amount of research to bring the true story of the depraved Nazi medical experimentation on concentration camp prisoners, in this case young Polish Catholic women who were arrested for their underground resistance activity. The humanity and honesty in this book is astounding and moved me to tears so many times. Some parts were hard to get through, but we can and must, and the book is so engrossing and ultimately uplifting. Amazingly well written, and like other readers, I learned so much more about this hideous time even tho I have read much about the Holocaust. Thank you to the author, and the narrators, for bringing these brave survivors to our awareness, and so deeply to our hearts.

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Lauren R.

One of my favorites!

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Melanie H.

Beautifully written and sublimely narrated. This book was hard to listen to at times, and I had to take breaks during some especially gut-wrenching moments, but the investment was worth the payoff. Gorgeous story based on true events and people. I thought I knew all there was to know about the concentration camps, but I learned something new! Loved it.

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Emma J.

I have read a lot of Nazi era memoirs and historical fiction and this is now truly added to the top of my list. The narration was phenomenal making the book and story that much more gripping. MUST READ ~

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Louise McCartney

loved this book. Thought provoking & well narrated

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Tracy B.

Loved the story and the narrators were perfection!

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Gillian L.

Very well written and researched! Unimaginable pain for these women, unbelievable strength!

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I found this to be a beautiful story of family, hope and what women do to survive in such a horrific time and situation. It’s so well written, I felt the incredible emotions the girls felt all along the way. I really enjoyed this book.

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Claire M.

Loved this book. Couldn’t stop listening. The characters came to life and their stories were immediately compelling. Very well written and narrated.

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Rachel G.

Heart wrenching story. Full of detail, feeling as though you are among the characters. The strength of these women are remarkable. Caroline and Kasha are stories to never forget

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Sandra F.

Fabulous listen!

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Kerin M.

Definitely thought provoking. The author brought to life the experiences and thought processes of WWII survivors, from both sides! I've visited Dachau and now will have to visit Ravensbrock.

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Sharon H.

A must read! I have recommended it to many

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Aida S.

Is a very nice story because you are always interested in what will happen. It is terrible what the Nazis did to these girls and wonderful that there were nice people who helped them. The English language is very clear and for me this is very important because I am learning English.

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I really enjoyed this book. I normally listen only when I am commuting to and from work, but I continued listening to this one after arriving home. Story is compelling and the narrators were excellent.

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Anne B.

I founded Part I a bit long with extra details, but then when Part II came I could not stop from playing. Great sorry, I also want to visit Caroline's garden in CT one day.

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Angela D.

I could not stop this book from playing, it took over my world. It was a sad but also amazing adventure to be apart of. I am wanting to visit Caroline's garden one day when we travel up north!

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Itzik L.


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Catherine S.

Very thought provoking and moving.

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Maddie C.

The author has done a brilliant job of weaving three completely different female characters stories together. The author's beautifully written descriptions throughout the book help the reader understand what life was like for each of these women, especially the Polish Political Prisoners. The narrators have done an exceptional job of portraying each character too!

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Melissa S.

Amazing narrators! One of the best audio productions I’ve listened to and such a riveting story!

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Genevieve G.

I just love this book it was so amazing I didn't want it to end I wanted to know more

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Natalia T.

Fantastic book! Couldn’t stop listening

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Patricia M.

Great story of a dismal time in history!

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Becky B

The story was awful and at the same time riveting. I couldn’t wait to get back to it to see what happened.

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Lydia F

Narrorator(s) were wonderful. Story was moving and oh so very hard to turn off. What a gem.

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Gloria C

This Book was very moving. The fact that it was carefully researched and based on real characters made it compelling. The historical events were well incorporated into the story.

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Ellen V

Loved how the fiction was smoothly woven into actual facts. This makes the story even worth more and wants you to find out more about the real events too. Compelling story, superbe idea with the different voices. I wasn't very fond of the Polish character's voice, a bit too exaggerated. But I guess that's more of a personal taste. Nice to hear the author tell about it afterwards!

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Jacklyn V

Very well recseached & written . Exposed more horrors of a horrible regimen.Made the characters very believable .

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Jennifer l

Excellent book and deeply moving. I couldn’t put the book down. I appreciate the author’s note and the lengths that she went to uncover this story. One of the best books that I have listen to in a long time.!

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Lyndee G

I found the story of the Polish victims interesting and should have been the focus of the entire book. At times the dialogue was too modern.

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Terry C

Enjoyed this book. It made me curious to find out more about WWII...(since I’ve never really had an interest in the subject at school).

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Diane F

I was on the edge of my seat through the entire book! I could not stop listening to it!

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Jean J

Very well narrated by 3 different voices for 3 different characters. Knowing it was based on real life experiences it pulled me into their lives and I was concerned for each one of them and whether or not they would survive and how. A very moving book, difficult to put down.

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Jade W

The title of the book put me off but when I actually listened to it I loved it. I loved the different insight into the War

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Toby M

This was a profoundly moving book.

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Nancy K

I loved this book! It was well written and well narrated. Since it was based on real people, in real places it was difficult to hear. It is an important reminder of what has happened and could happen again in similar circumstances! Great book!

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Sonja M

So many moving books about WWII, but this was an unexpected pleasure. It is a powerful and true story everyone should know about absolutely remarkable women. The author's use of three voices works beautifully. Great narration.

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Natalie F

Great book - I really enjoyed it , will look for more from the author

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Ashlei B

Lilac Girls is an amazing book with incredibly talented narrators. This book made me want to learn so much more about the Nuremburg Trials and about Ravensbruck. Well worth the emotional read!! One of my favorites!

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Peter M

Loved this book. Made me see what happened and how easily it could happen again. Plenty to think about, but even in Trump America which rhetoric is right and which is wrong.

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Ashley S

I couldn't put the book down! Beautifully written

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Anna K

Very intense, amazing book. The author did an amazing job giving the characters depth which brought this book to life. Highly recommend.

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Christina G

I found this book to be very well written and exceptionally well narrated. Highly recommend this as a "must listen to".

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Tina P

I found this book very difficult to listen to because it made me confront what a lot of us from non war years have never really had to acknowledge . The realism the narrators portrayed in this book was wonderful. The dialects were spoken beautifully, the compassion was heartwarming and lastly their own feelings mimicked how I felt about the these woman who had overcome such adversity in this monstrous part of our history. I commend Martha Hall Kelly in her research and how she managed to incorporate a factual event into such a compelling story that will live with me for a lot of years. I have recommended this book to many of my friends.

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Christine O

This story was based on WWII and all the difficult things that happened to the people in concentration camps. Well written but difficult to hear!

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Karolina M

I was a bit disappointed with the book; it wasn't very engaging for me. The narrator is good, but Polish names are not pronounced correctly, which is a bit strange, considering that one of the main characters is polish . "Kasia" shouldn't be pronounced as"Kasha" - that's a word for groats :)

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penelope p

Amazing story and narration.

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kate c

Great book I loved it

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Constance Q

Wonderful narration and content. Definitely worth a listen.

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Diane M

This is such a beautifully written book. It flowed like a gentle river, leading you along, while the author seamlessly intertwined mostly fact, with a touch of fiction, crating a truly lovely, but poignant story. I couldn't put it down and was quite sad when it was over. It's hard to believe this is her first book - I can't wait for the next one. The narrator was fantastic. I've listened to many audio books, and so far, Cassandra is at the top of my list. She totally drew me in. Perhaps voices are like musical notes, and we all have one that hits the right one for each of us.

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Sandy O\'Neill

I really loved this book and didn't want it to end

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Kristen Norris

I have read many novels and accounts surrounding WWII and concentration camps. This book may be the best one so far in the way it humanizes the awful experiences of both the victims and the perpetrators. How wonderful that Miss Faradays work lives on in this book.

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Petra Hanson

The various accents of the narrators grated on my nerves but the book itself was really well written and it was good, though chilling, to hear a concentration camp story told from another perspective

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A wonderful story of true courage and strength to overcome adversity. The different narraters brought the story to life.

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Leah Shoup

It's no wonder that this book has won a ton of historical fiction awards this year. Loved getting to follow along different points of view!

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Tabitha Lagaly

One of the best historical fictions I have ever read. I liked that the story was based off real women. I highly recommend this book to everyone I talk to about reading. The author didn't sugarcoat things and it was very refreshing. Make sure to listen to the authors note. It answers a lot of questions.

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Catalina Gamble

What a beautiful journey this book is. I couldn't put it down. So much history told from a woman's perspective. Three different lives that came together. An absolute must read for anyone who likes the history of WWII

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Donna O\'Neil

When threads of fiction are woven through historical fact, a tapestry is created whereby the reader approaches a lived experience with the characters. In the same vein as "The Nightingale", I am really enjoying the plethora of books that looks at WWII from a womens perspective. The use of three narrators, detailing the parallel but separate intertwined lives of the three principal characters was very effective. A tribute to Caroline Faraday, of whom I had never heard of before

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Kristin Olafsen

I just don't get what all the fuss is all about. I was quite disappointed in this book. It was long and didn't Get me excited at all.

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Viera Harris

Great book, really confronting at times particularly as it was based on a true story. Excellent narrators. Always know when a book has made an impact when I am still thinking about it a week later!

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Summer LaRue

Amazing! The narrarator was incredible as was the story.

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Kim Mayer

Absolutely wonderful novel. I was mesmerized from the beginning . The narrators brought the characters alive. Easy to Karen to. I was surprised to find out at the end that the story is bass on many real people

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Ariadna Flaherty

Excellent read and well narrated. Grips your interest from the beginning to the end

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