Once you start reading this novel, you won’t be able to stop. I know, having devoted most of yesterday to finish reading it. This novel intertwines the life stories of three women from 1939 – to the late 1950s.
Caroline Ferriday was a young socialite in New York who volunteered at the French Consulate.
Kaisa Kuzmerick was a young polish teen who wanted to fight the Nazis and joined the Underground Resistance. She was arrested, along with her sister and mother and sent to a women’s re-education camp call Ravensbruck. A horrifying journey of how she and her sister survived.
Herta Oberheuser was a young doctor in a man’s world. She could not practice surgery, only dermatology. Herta saw an advertisement for a doctor. At first shell-shocked by what she saw at Ravensbruck; Herta managed to justify her actions on behalf of the Reich.
In the late 1950s – Caroline raises enough money for the survivors to come to New York and to see the United States.
By the end there are extensive notes within which, I discovered that Herta, Kaisa, and Caroline were real people; the author fictionalized their dialogue. Martha Kelly Hall is a first time author who takes you on an extraordinary journey in 476 pages.
I don’t know which story engrossed me more as their stories are told in alternating chapters. What Kasia went through was brutal and how she struggled afterwards. Caroline lived in a world of socialites yet she wanted to do more for the world of refugees. Herta, you could understand her need for a job; but ponder her inability or choice not to act on the inhumanity in the surgeries performed, and instead remained blindly loyal to the Reich.
Like the lilacs in Caroline’s Connecticut garden, the stories of these women are unforgettable.
Take a journey to the Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden in Betheleham, Connecticut to continue this story.