Pennie Picks LILAC GIRLS

9781101883082_110caCostco’s influential book buyer Pennie Clark Ianniciello, selects as her May “Buyers Pick” a debut novel, Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (PRH/Ballantine; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).  The novel is based on the true stories of three women from vastly different backgrounds who were involved with the Ravensbruck concentration camp during WWII.

The book was a hit with librarians. It was voted a LibaryReads Favorite of Favorites for 2016. Andrea Larson of Cook Memorial Public Library, Libertyville, IL wrote the annotation,

“This is story of the Ravensbruck Rabbits: seventy-four women prisoners in the Ravensbruck concentration camp. Using alternating first-person narratives, the characters relate their experiences from 1939 through 1959. Drawing upon a decade of research, Hall reconstructs what life was like in Ravensbruck. More than a war story, this is a tale of how the strength of women’s bonds can carry them through even the most difficult situations. Lilac Girls is a solid, compelling historical read.”

In an interview in the Costco Connection, Kelly says that after her 10 years writing and researching the book,  “I thought I might self-publish and no one would care.” Far from going unnoticed, Kelly gained a contract for it, as well as two more books, prequels to Lilac Girls.

People magazine pick and an Indie Next selection, it did not fare so well with the NYT, which was merciless in their review, saying that the characters are all “stereotype[s] with no narrative force” of their own, adding the killer line, “it takes some doing to make a concentration camp survivor appear an ingrate.”

Nevertheless, it managed to hit the lower rungs of NYT bestseller list, cresting at #13. It has gone on to do better in paperback and is currently #6 on that list after 8 weeks.

Holds remain active at almost every library we checked with a number still running a triple digit reserve list.

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