What a beautiful story that sweeps you up into the lives and times of the characters. We get to see this story through the eyes of three characters.
We have Georgeanna a nurse in the Civil War who is a strong, brave woman working in a male-dominated world. There is Anne-May who is the wife of a plantation owner. She is a frustrating character, but helps show the difference between the people living in the house, and those enslaved on a plantation. The third POV for this book is a woman enslaved on Anne-May’s plantation, and is sold by her.
This was an emotionally charged story that had me furiously flipping the pages! I couldn’t get enough of this one!! Martha Hall Kelly has created characters that you fall in love with, want to be friends with, or want to slap upside the head. It’s amazing how she brings these people to life, and I just want more and more of her writing!!
If you enjoy historical fiction set during the 1800’s I highly recommend this one!
Where to Find This Book:
Lilac Girls introduced readers to Caroline Ferriday, an American philanthropist who helped young girls released from Ravensbruck concentration camp. Now, in Sunflower Sisters, Kelly tells the story of her ancestor Georgeanna Woolsey, a Union nurse who joins the war effort during the Civil War, and how her calling leads her to cross paths with Jemma, a young enslaved girl who is sold off and conscripted into the army, and Ann-May Wilson, a southern plantation mistress whose husband enlists.
Georgeanne “Georgey” Woolsey isn’t meant for the world of lavish parties and demure attitudes of women of her stature. So when the war ignites the nation, Georgey follows her passion for nursing during a time when doctors considered women a bother on the battlefront. In proving them wrong, she and her sister Eliza venture from New York to Washington, D.C., to Gettysburg and witness the unparalleled horrors of slavery as they become involved in the war effort.
In the South, Jemma is enslaved on the Peeler Plantation in Maryland, where she lives with her mother and father. Her sister, Patience, is enslaved on the plantation next door and both live in fear of LeBaron, an abusive overseer who tracks their every move. When Jemma is sold by the cruel plantation mistress Anne-May at the same time the Union army comes through, she sees a chance to finally escape–but only by abandoning the family she loves.
Anne-May is left behind to run Peeler Planation when her husband joins the Union Army and her cherished brother enlists with the Confederates. In charge of the household, she uses the opportunity to follow her own ambitions and is drawn into a secret Southern network of spies, finally exposing herself to the fate she deserves.
Inspired by true accounts, Sunflower Sisters provides a vivid, detailed look at the Civil War experience, from the barbaric and inhumane plantations, to a war-torn New York City to the horrors of the battlefield. It’s a sweeping story of women caught in a country on the brink of collapse, in a society grappling with nationalism and unthinkable racial cruelty, a story still so relevant today.
Just the Facts:
Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pub Date: March 30, 2021
Martha is a native New Englander who lives in Litchfield County Connecticut. She worked as an advertising copywriter for many years, and raised three wonderful children who are now mostly out of the nest. Her debut novel Lilac Girls, about Connecticut socialite Caroline Ferriday who championed a group of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp survivors known as The Rabbits who survived WWII Nazi experiments, was her first novel and an instant New York Times bestseller. The prequel to Lilac Girls, Lost Roses, was also an instant NYTimes bestseller. It features Caroline’s mother Eliza Ferriday and her fight to save a group of Russian women, former aristocrats who lost everything in the Russian Revolution. The Lost Roses paperback published March 3rd, 2020 and the third book in the series, a Civil War novel about Caroline’s great grandmother’s family, arrives spring 2021. https://marthahallkelly.com/
I was provided a gifted copy of this book for free. I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.