Book Report :: Lilac Girls


In this literary novel inspired by the events of World War II and one of its heroines, we get to know three young, strong-minded and determined women whose lives, though continents apart, are destined to come together. Hitler's Army has invaded Poland and has its sights on France, forever changing the lives of these three. 

We are first introduced to Caroline Ferriday, a New York socialite with her hands full at her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. We then meet Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager whose youthful, carefree days disappear as she pursues her role as a courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences. Then we meet Herta Oberheuser, a young German doctor who responds to an ad for a government medical position. With the hope that this becomes her ticket to a life more exciting, she finds herself confined to the male-dominated underground world of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the only all-female concentration camp. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

I'll admit to only being a little more than halfway through Lilac Girls, and while I can't wait to finish it, there's a part of me who wants to slow down and savor it. A great read, the story and the characters will live with me for a long time.

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Book Review - The Decorated Home, Living with Style and Joy

It's a sunny 85 degree day in June and I finally have some time to sit down and savor THE DECORATED HOME: LIVING WITH STYLE AND JOY. As I recline on the couch on my 3-season porch, the leaves on the branches sway in the gentle breeze - I glance up to spy a couple of gigantic yellow butterflies fluttering in the distance and a couple of squirrels chasing each other up a tree. I have a lemonade on the ground next to me (the coffee table is too far a reach!) and Meg Braff's book on my lap.

The images in THE DECORATED HOME: LIVING WITH STYLE AND JOY are as refreshing as a cold bowl sherbet on a hot summer day. Her use of vibrant pastels, bright blues, yellows, greens, pinks and corals not only evoke a sense of calm, but instill a sense of understated sophistication. Her designs are all elegant, are approachable, friendly, liveable and without pretension. 

Everyone wants a house filled with grace and charm. Throughout the book Braff shares her inspirations and advice on creating spaces that are livable and attractive, maintaining both form and function. She explores the key elements of her look—color and pattern—and how to employ them for maximum impact.

Known for her use of color, especially those "offbeat enough to catch your eye" Braff has an affinity for layering several hues together, as we see throughout the many pages. Of the belief that all variations needn't match exactly, she often pairs unexpected colors together to create a great impact. She considers green a neutral - a color with which all others can be paired, like a garden in full bloom, but admits to favoring one color in particular.

However, if I had to align with one color, it would be blue. I am captivated by many shades of blue, from the soothing, expressive Prussian blues in Henri Matisse paintings to the intriguing, muted tones of the French artist Roger Muhl...

Blues evoke the ocean and air; similar to green, it takes on a neutral quality because it works so well with other colors.
— Living with Style and Joy, Meg Braff

Braff is a huge fan of pattern, which she infuses with her love of color, often layering and marrying several patterns together to create rich and storied spaces. 

While there is no exact formula, layers of pattern work best when you mix scales. A small ikat on a lampshade next to a chair covered in a larger pattern creates a mix that’s visually intriguing. Aim for interest at different heights in the room; don’t concentrate all the pattern at eye level or on the the floor.”
— The Decorated Room, Meg Braff

Throughout the book she shares her inspirations - her love for detail, antiques, pattern, texture, Chinoiserie, as well as tips for selecting paint color, shopping, styling, and organization.  She also shares the essential elements to creating stylish bedrooms, inviting baths and breakfast rooms, and offers up suggestions for creating chic outdoor spaces.  She also shares with us the importance of finishing touches - the little extras that elevate a room’s decor from good to great.

Coco Chanel once advised, ‘before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.’ You should do the same when decorating with pattern. Like fashion, pattern benefits from a good edit.
— Living with Style and Joy, Meg Braff

All of her advice comes together in an overall theme of gracious living that will be warmly welcomed by readers looking to impart polish, color, and grace to their home. Lushly illustrated with vivid images of Braff’s lively work, THE DECORATED HOME: LIVING WITH STYLE AND JOY is an inspiring, idea-filled resource for both novices and experts alike.

Born and raised in Mississippi, interior designer Meg Braff has been praised extensively for her ingenious use of color and pattern. Now based on Long Island, Meg Braff Interiors is known for its work intop resort locations including Bermuda, Palm Beach, the Hamptons, and Newport. Braff also owns her own design shop in Locust Valley.

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300 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10010
Tel. (212) 387-3400 Telefax (212) 387-3535