Author: Martha Hall Kelly
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Ballentine Books
Publication Date: March 30, 2021
Book Description: 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.
Rating: 5 Stars
Review: This is Martha Hall Kelly’s third book in the Lilac Girls series that follow the same family starting in WWII, then WWI and lastly this one during the civil war. Kelly has found the perfect trio of women who were heroes in each of their times.
This story centering around Georgey Woolsey, who would become one of the first female nurses to serve the injured men of the civil war. Jemma a runaway slave and Anne-May, a cruel woman who owns Jemma.
Kelly weaves together this harrowing story at times of these woman, that paints a vivid picture of this war from a very different perspective. I have to admit the civil war is not one of the parts of history that I enjoy reading about (with a few exceptions), but Kelly is masterful in picking the right stories.
The Woolsey family is real, but other characters are based on a mixture of people from that time. This is a powerful unforgettable story of the power of woman in a time where they were not necessarily welcome.
Thank you NetGalley and Ballentine Books for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.