Sunflower Sisters – Book Review

“… knowledge has no enemy but the ignorant.” ― Martha Hall Kelly, Sunflower Sisters

Martha Hall Kelly’s million-copy bestseller Lilac Girls introduced readers to Caroline Ferriday, an American philanthropist who helped young girls released from Ravensbrück concentration camp. Now, in Sunflower Sisters, Kelly tells the story of her ancestor Georgeanna “Georgey” Woolsey, a Union nurse who joins the war effort with her sister, Eliza, and crosses paths with Jemma, a young enslaved girl who is sold off and conscripted into the army, and Ann-May Wilson, her cruel plantation mistress.

Inspired by true accounts, the novel provides a vivid, detailed look at the Civil War experience, from the inhumane plantations, to a war-torn New York City, to the horrors of the battlefield. Once again, she highlights the impactful role of women throughout history.

At 544 pages, Sunflower Girls is a trifle daunting, but it is well worth the time investment. If you enjoyed Lilac Girls, you are going to love the conclusion of the trilogy. (I somehow missed the middle book in the trilogy, Lost Sisters, and I’ll be going back to catch up.) I particularly loved the author’s note, in which Kelly writes about the true historical figures who filled the pages of this spectacular novel. It is an impeccably researched, sweeping saga about slavery, friendship, and family loyalty during the civil war. Oh, I almost forgot about the espionage! I loved the characters and wish I could have known them personally. It is a satisfying, vibrant and page-turning read. 4 stars. *

Published Date: March 2021
Genre: Historical fiction
Read-alikes: Varina by Charles Frazier, Sisters of Shiloh by Kathy Hepinstall, March by Geraldine Brooks, How I Fought the Strong by Margaret McMullan

* I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher. The opinions are my own.

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