Lilac Girls is a World War II historical fiction book focusing on Ravensbruck, a women's concentration camp where some prisoners endured cruel experimental surgeries. Chapters alternate between the perspectives of three different women: former actress and wealthy American, Catherine Ferriday, who sends care packages to orphaned children overseas; Kasia, a Polish teenager and Ravensbruck prisoner; and Herta Oberhauser, a German doctor performing experiments in Ravensbruck.
It's September 1939 and as Hitler invades Poland with his sight set on France, the paths of Caroline, Kasia and Herta are set on a course that will change their lives forever. Socialite Caroline Ferriday lives in New York City and volunteers at the French Consulate, helping French nationals visiting the United States. She also organizes aide for French orphanages. Kasia Kuzmerick is a Polish teenager who sees her way of life disappearing with the occupation of Hitler and she works as a courier for the resistance movement in Poland.
I have seldom been as disappointed in a book as this one. While the original premise is quite intriguing--an American journalist who has lived in France for twenty-five years, married to a Frenchman, and with an 11-year old daughter, writes a magazine piece on the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup of Jews by French policmen in July of 1942--but the latter half of the book does not live up to the first half.