The Incredible Story of Caroline Ferriday and the Ravensbruck Lapins

A recent listen on Audible has me reading everything I can find about the incredible story of Caroline Ferriday and the Ravensbruck Lapins.

Let’s begin with author Martha Hall Kelly’s journey to Ferriday’s home and garden, Bellamy-Ferriday House in Bethlehem, Connecticut…

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Ms. Kelly had read an article in Victoria magazine about the house and garden which she carried in her wallet for some three years before finding the opportunity to make the three hour drive for a tour.  Hearing about Ferriday’s life and connection with a group of Polish women who had suffered atrocities while imprisoned at Ravensbruck during WWII haunted the author to the point of inspiration.  What resulted after years of research and writing was a historical novel based on actual people and events…

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A photograph of the Ravensbruck Rabbits (Kelly made a comment at the end of the audiobook about how much better it sounded to use the French word Lapin) on display in the house is what grabbed Kelly’s attention and resulted in the creation of Lilac Girls…

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As I mentioned, I chose to listen to the audio version of the book and thoroughly enjoyed the narrators.  Cassandra Campbell,  Kathleen Gati and Kathrin Kana give life to the three women whose stories make up the novel.  Caroline Ferriday, our heroine, carries the story…

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while Kasia, a Polish teenager who ends up in Ravensbruck as a Rabbit gives voice to the women prisoners.  The final main character, Herta, is a German Doctor working at Ravensbruck and carrying out medical experiments on 74 Polish girls.  The stories of their lives intersect as the book unfolds.

Caroline’s compelling story of growing up a child of privilege in Manhattan to taking on the rehabilitation of the Polish women has me under its spell.  Her summers were spent at the property now known as the Bellamy-Ferriday House but in Caroline’s day it was simply called The Hay.  The house and gardens, now the property of Connecticut Landmarks are open for tours from May through October…

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This interior shot caught my eye because of the story behind the curtains pictured.  I guess I’ll let that remain a cliffhanger and find out later whether I sparked your interest enough to get you to delve into this book…

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I suppose you have figured out that Bellamy-Ferriday House and Gardens is going on the bucket list for me…

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Let me know if you read it…

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House and garden photos from cthistoricgardens.org

Interior photo courant.com

Caroline and Ravensbruck Ladies from Connecticuthistory.com

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