Author: Martha Hall Kelly

Narrators: Saskia Maarleveld, Shayna Small, Jenna Lamia, Cassandra Campbell

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book Description

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.

“An exquisite tapestry of women determined to defy the molds the world has for them.”—Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

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.

Book Review

Sunflower Sisters is a beautifully written story about the civil war told from diverse perspectives. A wealthy woman decides to be a union nurse against her family’s wishes. She wants to make a difference and help those in need. A female plantation owner becomes in charge of the plantation after her husband joins the union army and her brother joins the confederate army. She follows her own wishes and gets herself in trouble. A slave at the plantation finds a way to escape by pretending to be someone else but has to leave the ones she cares about behind. I liked the different perspectives and how the stories wove together and apart. Sunflower Sisters is the third and final book of the Lilac Girls series but can be read as a standalone without missing anything. The series is based on ancestors of the main characters in the previous books. Sunflower Sisters is a great ending to a great series, but I am sad this is the last book.


I listened to the audiobook narrated by Saskia Maarleveld, Shayna Small, Jenna Lamia, and Cassandra Campbell and they all did a great job. I loved all the different narrators and thought they did a great job voicing the characters and telling their stories.

Thank you Ballantine Books, Random House, and Penguin Random House Audio for Sunflower Sisters.

About the Author

Martha grew up in Massachusetts and now splits her time between Connecticut and New York City. She worked as an advertising copywriter for many years and raised three splendid children, while researching and writing Lilac Girls, her first novel. She has loved writing the other two books about Caroline’s family, Lost Roses, which features Caroline’s mother during WWI and Sunflower Sisters, a Civil War novel. You’ll find more info about the incredible, true stories behind both books at her website.

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Sunflower Sisters

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