Historical Fiction about Determined Women in Review

December 2, 2020 Uncategorized 6 ★★★★

Historical Fiction about Determined Women in ReviewTitle: Lilac Girls (Lilac Girls, #1)
Author: Martha Hall Kelly
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

 

Lilac Girls is the story of three women – Kasia, a Polish resistance member sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp; Herta, the only female Nazi doctor at Ravensbruck; and Caroline, a New York socialite trying to help women who were experimented on at Ravensbruck. As you might expect, their lives all intersect, giving us several different perspectives on the same events. Based on the description, I expected a particular character arc for several of these women. I appreciated that the author subverted those expectations in interesting ways. This was a longer book, but unpredictable and full of high stakes tension, making it a quick read that was hard to put down. The writing was also vivid, making it easy to picture every scene. I particularly liked that the story continued after the war. Obviously women who’d been at Ravensbruck wouldn’t immediately recover just because the war ended. It made for a more believable, complex stories to see some of Kasia’s subsequent struggles. The ending still ended up being a bit too neat, but as someone who loves a happy ending, I don’t find that the worst flaw in a book. I also loved the author’s note at the end, highlighting how much of this book was rooted in truth. Highly enjoyable and particularly recommended to fans of Jennifer Robson’s historical fiction.

Historical Fiction about Determined Women in ReviewTitle: Lost Roses (Lilac Girls, #2)
Author: Martha Hall Kelly
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

 

Lost Roses is a sequel toΒ Lilac Girls, which follows Caroline’s mother Eliza’s own charitable endeavors. This book also primarily follows three perspectives, which parallel those in the first book, covering a woman who is trying to help (Eliza); a Russian aristocrat she’s friends with, Sofya, who is in danger during the Russian Revolution; and Varinka, Sofya’s nanny and a woman connected to the revolutionaries. As with Herta, Varinka’s loyalties and the moral choices she’ll make are initially unclear. This book had many of the same strengths as the first, including the gripping plot and detailed scene setting. Reading a second book by this author made me realize that the characterizations aren’t as strong. While Herta and Varinka have moral choices to make and interesting, distinct motivations, the four other women blur together a bit. I don’t mind that too much. All four of the women who are clearly our protagonists are determined, admirable women, doing what they need to in order to survive and/or to help others. They may not feel particularly unique, but they are all examples of a type of fictional woman I enjoy spending time with. I also thought this story relied on a few more coincidences than the previous one, but these small flaws didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of both books. Now I’m just waiting for the author’s third book, following Eliza’s grandmother during the American Civil War!

6 Responses to “Historical Fiction about Determined Women in Review”

    • DoingDewey

      There’s still a third book in the series to come out, so perhaps you can grab all three from the library if you decide you do want to pick these up πŸ™‚

  1. Terri Wilkins

    I think I’ve decided my niche is historical fiction about women. So many good stories!

    • DoingDewey

      It was really well done. I read a lot of historical fiction and this felt unique and particularly beautifully written. I’d definitely recommend it πŸ™‚

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