The Sunflower Sisters

by Martha Hall Kelly

This Civil War narrative is told from three points of view. First, Georgeanna (Georgy) Woolsey is a member of the affluent abolitionist Woolsey family of New York City. She became a Union nurse who served at Gettysburg. At that time in history most nurses and doctors were men. Women weren’t welcome.

Second, Anne-Marie Wilson inherits the Peeler tobacco plantation in Maryland. She is a sadistic slave owner who becomes a confederate spy with a local merchant. Anne-Marie forces Jemma, one of her slaves who reads and writes better than she does, to write down and deliver information.

Third, Jemma is sold by Anne-Marie’s husband without her permission and becomes a photographer’s assistant. The photographer specializes in taking pictures of the dead. Jemma eventually escapes by dressing as a boy and is conscripted into the Union army as a drummer. When wounded at Gettysburg, she encounters Georgy. Soon the Woolsey family offer Jemma a home in New York City.

Anne-Marie comes to New York City to retrieve her property, namely Jemma. Before leaving the Peeler plantation, Jemma hid the book containing all of the secret information. Anne-Marie wants to destroy that book before she is arrested for treason but cannot find it without Jenna’s help.

The trilogy by Martha Hall Kelly is a treat for fans of historical fiction. I recommend reading all three novels.

The Caroline (Woolsey) Ferriday series includes:

  1. Lilac Girls (2016)
  2. Lost Roses (2019)
  3. Sunflower Sisters (2021)


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