REVIEW: If you love true Historical Fiction, you will definitely enjoy Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly. This was a truly amazing piece of work. The research that went into this book was above and beyond what you might expect.
Have you ever been blown away by a book, read the author notes at the end and come away with more appreciation for the book? I have and this is one of them. The first book in the series called Lilac Girls was the same way for me. It is one thing to read a novel you know is based on historical facts and whole new experience when you find out the characters existed and their letters and family history were a huge part of the story.
Martha Hall Kelly did a fabulous job putting her research together to give us a story that entertains, teaches and inspires us to learn more. I have highlighted in her notes books that I want to go back and read. I’m not sure I’ve done that with any other book.
I found the time period of the Civil War interesting and heartbreaking. She told of life in the slave community so vividly it made me cry. Then there were cities that continued on as if a war was not being fought on our homeland. That was mind boggling!
I highly recommend Sunflower Sisters. You have to read the book to find out where the Sunflowers came from. I will never look at them the same.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher/author and Netgalley for a fair and honest review. Thank you!
SYNOPSIS: Martha Hall Kelly’s million-copy bestseller Lilac Girls introduced readers to Caroline Ferriday. Now, in Sunflower Sisters, Kelly tells the story of Ferriday’s ancestor Georgeanna Woolsey, a Union nurse during the Civil War whose calling leads her to cross paths with Jemma, a young enslaved girl who is sold off and conscripted into the army, and Anne-May Wilson, a Southern plantation mistress whose husband enlists.
Georgeanna “Georgey” Woolsey isn’t meant for the world of lavish parties and the demure attitudes of women of her stature. So when war ignites the nation, Georgey follows her passion for nursing during a time when doctors considered women on the battlefront a bother. 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 Plantation 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.