Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly was originally brought to my attention by one of the awesome members of Books & Brews at Reformation Brewery! I have loved literally every book my friend Gary has recommended, and Lilac Girls did not disappoint. It was big and hard to read at times, but so, so worth it.
Lilac Girls follows the stories of 3 women during World War II. Two of them are actual people (Caroline Ferriday, a socialite and philanthropist from Manhattan and Herta Oberhauser, a Nazi doctor). The third character is a composite of several women who spent time in Ravensbruck, a notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. The story follows all 3 women as their lives intersect with sometimes achingly tragic and sometimes incredibly hopeful outcomes. Obviously, there are parts of the tale that are hard to take. But the characters are so well-written and their stories so compelling that I was glad I kept reading.
I loved that this novel focused on incredible women of WWII- both the heroes and villains. Humans are capable of such beauty and such atrocity. The ability of the human spirit to triumph is matched by the ability of humans to justify egregious evil. Definitely a story that deserves to be heard. If you loved All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr or Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave, you should definitely give Lilac Girls a read.