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Wednesday, September 29, 2021


An excellent, thought-provoking read. The book can stand on its own or be read as a series, which is unusual. (Review by Christine E Hann)

Martha Hall Kelly’s debut novel, Lilac Sisters was published in April 2016, and within two weeks it became a number one best seller. Since then, she has written two further books in the series, titled Lost Roses and her third novel, Sunflower Sisters.

Sunflower Sisters is a clear, detailed look at the American Civil War, from the inhumane lifestyle of the plantations to a war-ravaged New York City, to the horrors of the battlefield itself.

The book is written in chapters from the perspective of the three central female characters. We experience the hard, cruel life of a slave from Jemma, who is enslaved on the Peeler Plantation owned by the spoilt, unfeeling, and often cruel mistress Anne-May. We meet the Woolsey sisters, who “rescue” Jemma. Amongst the sisters are Georgy and Eliza, real life women, who were role models of that time. Georgy as a nurse is an inspiration at a time when women were repressed and marginalised. The book contains excerpts from real letters written by them. To note, the historical research is excellent.

Sunflower Sisters follows the lives of the three main characters, their fates entwined together. It inspires, yet at the same time you are horrified by the heartlessness, and inhumane treatment of the slaves, and the lives they led in those times. Freedom and release from such degradation was a battle well fought, ably demonstrated by the book. Sadly, the cost of such a battle is only too evident, in the loss of so many promising young lives.

Martha Hall Kelly lives in Connecticut with her husband and their dog Oliver. She raised three children, while researching and writing her first novel, Lilac Sisters. Her books are best described as historical fiction, and are based on true stories, people, and facts. She looks to make the world a better place, through her writings.

Sunflower Sisters is an excellent, thought-provoking read. The book can stand on its own or be read as a series, which is unusual. - Christine E Hann

Sunflower Sisters is published by Penguin Random House UK – 2021. ISBN: 9780593356876