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Publisher's Summary

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER •

Martha Hall Kelly’s million-copy best seller Lilac Girls introduced listeners 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, number-one New York Times best-selling 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, DC, 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.

©2021 Martha Hall Kelly (P)2021 Random House Audio

What listeners say about Sunflower Sisters

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anna
  • 09-04-21

It is a hard book to "listen" to.

Finished up "listening" to the Sunflower Sisters.
This was a very hard book to "listen" to and I guess the credit for that goes to the narrators as it was so well done. It was difficult to "listen" to cruelty to the slaves as told by Jemma the slave girl. Also difficult was the POV of Anne May the slave/land owner who had just no remorse whatsoever. It is hard to listen to someone who is so cruel but sees nothing wrong with it. It was also difficult listening to the horrors of the civil war, on the battlefield.
I have read a number of books dealing with the Civil War and slavery, and nothing new was actually learned reading the book, but somehow, listening to it with this one just made it hard and therefore I would say that the book was not an enjoyable read for me. Again, kudos to the narrators who obviously did such a superb job of telling the story. That is not to say it was not a good book. I just found it difficult to read.
I did find it a bit long. I think the book could have been shortened by about an hour, so maybe about 100 pages?
And while good, I still think Lilac Girls has been her best so far.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 05-06-21

An extraordinary story

This book is well worth listening to as well as reading. I loved Georgy's character because of her ambition, strength, and courage. I enjoyed Frank Bacon as well. I absolutely fell in love with Jemma along with her family. Anne-May was my least favorite character. I had to brace myself before starting the chapters about her. She was one "high maintenance" character indeed. The author did such a magnificent job with the characters' dialect for this time period. Reading about the cruelty towards slaves were the hardest words to read. It angered me concerning the treatment of females by some of the men, especially stealing Georgy's book she had written and putting a man's name as the author. It thrilled me to be able to hear narrator Saskia Maarleveld's voice in this Audible book. I so enjoyed her narration in Karen White's new book, Last Night in London. The other narrators' performances were very good as well. The Author's Note at the end of the book is well worth listening to or reading. It was a special treat to hear Martha Hall Kelly's voice reading her notes on Audible. I have read the author's previous books and recommend them as superb reads. Looking forward to all future books written by this very talented writer.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Blondie47
  • 06-05-21

Wonderful last book in the Woolsey-Ferriday series

Painstakingly researched, beautifully written and the narrators captivated me from the first word. I almost always am annoyed by the narrators of audiobooks but this one held my attention from the start to the very last page of the book. We follow Georgie, a nurse and abolitionist , Jemma, a young slave girl on a Maryland plantation, and Anne May, the owner of that plantation. Each character alternates chapters as we weave our way through the story. This is Hall Kelly’s third and final book that is based on the Woolsey-Ferriday family, a real-life family of do-gooding butt kicking females that I have come to admire so much. Although hard to choose which is my favorite book of the series, Sunflower Sisters was a wonderful last chapter and reverse wrap up. I will miss these characters – Georgie and Anne May’s sister were among my favorites – but the real heart and soul of this story is the brave and noble Jemma. I also like the narrator who read her part. At over 500 pages, some reviewers feel this book was a little too long, whereas I could have gone another 200 pages with it. 5 enthusiastic stars from me.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Brenda J. Warner
  • 16-04-21

Too long!!!

It just went on and on!!! Could have been two books instead of one. I got tired of listening to it.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Holly Rosemont
  • 09-04-21

a must read

I loved it. I would not be surprised if they turned it into a movie. America should read this book. learn from our past mistakes

2 people found this helpful

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  • Eagles! I'm a Philly Girl
  • 08-04-21

Awesome Reading!

I really enjoyed this book, I never read anything of Martha Hall Kelly’s before but I will watch for past, present and future books from her! I enjoy historical fiction and non fiction and this was perfect!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Patrick
  • 07-04-21

Disappointing narration of whitewashed fiction

The biggest disappointment of the year. The author should be ashamed of using historical figures for her whitewashing of history. This is one of the worst books with the storyline of , the rich white lady must rushing in to save the poor slave. Not even the top Audio narrators could save this mess of a book and rushed production. My suggestion is Don’t waste your time or money.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-05-21

Fabulous story

I would recommend this book to all who love southern and northern stories. True stories made it even more pleasurable

1 person found this helpful

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  • Don king
  • 29-04-21

Sunflowers Grew to Slow

Like three stores in one but by chapter 10 none of them grabbed my attention to want to keep reading.

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  • Mimi
  • 20-04-21

Excellent Listen!

I'm fascinated with Civil War history and especially enjoy Civil War historical fiction. I enjoyed the author's note at the end tying together the factual, primary source platform for the story. Jemma's voice and (painfully, historically accurate) story were the strength of the book. 'Widow of the South" by Robert Hicks has competition for this genre!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Christineb
  • 15-04-21

An amazing story

It's not often you are a few pages into the story and you realise you're reading something you won't forget the name It begins with the most beautiful narration a masterpiece The story in inspiring compelling amazing A wealth of characters During the authors note learnt It was a continuation of the character from Lilac Girls the sheer time and brilliance that would have entailed that process Hopefully this becomes best seller because It deserves recognition

1 person found this helpful