Writing shed gets a Periwinkle Studio facelift

IMG_1222I love everything Periwinkle Studio does, especially the new block printed fabrics, designed by artist Judith Drew Schubert, here on Martha’s Vineyard.


Thanks to Periwinkle, the writing shed is starting to feel like home.


Check them out at You can find Judith’s painting gallery there as well…love  Arnie’s Cow Barn!

Herta Oberheuser, one of the main characters in Lilac Girls

Herta Oberheuser is one of the three main characters in my novel Lilac Girls. It was a fascinating research experience getting to know and understand her better. The only female doctor at Ravensbruck, Hitler’s only all-female camp, Herta played an important role there.

Herta, below, ended up at Ravensbruck by answering an advertisement in a medical journal for a camp physician at a “woman’s re-education camp.”


At Ravensbruck she worked closely with Dr. Karl Gebhardt and Dr. Fritz Fischer on the pseudoscientific sulfonamide experiments (operating room below) performed on Polish prisoners. The survivors of the experiments became known, to the camp staff and prisoners alike, as “The Rabbits,” since they’d become the Nazi’s laboratory rabbits and because they hopped about the camp on their damaged legs. images-3 copy

Dr. Karl Gebhardt, below, Herta’s supervisor in the experiments, received a guilty verdict at the trial and was executed on June 2, 1948. During the trial he offered to have the same operations performed on himself to prove the surgeries were not life-threatening.


Dr. Fritz Fischer (below) after his arrest for his part in the sulfonamide experiments. He was one of the few defendants to express remorse for his participation.

1389.8 Holocaust I

Herta, shown below after her arrest for crimes against humanity



Beginning December 9, 1946, an American military tribunal opened The Nuremberg Doctor’s Trial, procedings against 23 prominent doctors and administrators for voluntarily participating in war crimes. Herta was tried along with her Ravensbruck colleague Fritz Fischer seated to her left, below. Since Herta was the only woman defendant in the trial there was an intense debate concerning where she should sit. Inside the box with her co-defendants? In the front of the box? In a chair outside the box? The resulting decision was that she would sit with her co-defendants, in the order in which she was listed in court documents.


Herta was found guilty and sentenced to twenty years in prison but was released early by American authorities. Can’t reveal much more or it would spoil the ending of the book!

Best bags ever

Love these canvas bags a great little shop in Edgartown carries–such a nice idea that allows you to carry books with you everywhere.


My fave!

The Incredible April in Paris Ball

April in Paris Ball 1957     One of my favorite scenes in Lilac Girls takes place in 1957 at The April in Paris Ball, held at the Waldorf-Astoris Hotel. For decades the ball was one of New York’s most glamorous and  extravagant benefits (the gift bags were over the top–suitcases filled with luxury items that chauffeurs carried to the guests’ limousines.) Through the years the ball featured a three ring circus, a full scale opera and a herd of French cows that gave champagne instead of milk. The theme in 1957: celebrating the 200th anniversary of Lafayette’s birth. It was all for a good cause. The galas benefitted French and Anglo charities.

Jacqueline Kennedy at Ball

Lovely Jacqueline Kennedy.



French actors Françoise Arnoul and Gérard  Philipe (as young and not-so-young Lafayette) enter in style.

Marilyn, Arthur Miller and Ambassador to Great Britain

Former U.S. ambassador to Britain Winthrop Aldrich, Marilyn Monroe and her husband, playwright Arthur Miller.

The fabulous Julia Marlowe, on stage again in Lilac Girls


I’ve been collecting Julia Marlowe ephemera for a while now, since she is a character in my novel Lilac Girls. She and her husband were two of the most famous Shakespearian actors of all time. The pair were friends of Caroline and Mrs. Eliza Ferriday and Julia mentored Caroline in her Broadway career. The Ferridays often entertained the pair at The Hay, their home in Bethlehem, Ct. Would have loved to be a fly on the wall for those visits. Check out E.H. as John the Baptist, complete with gladiator sandals, below and Julia as Salome.220px-SothernMarloweRomeo&JRomeo and Juliet

imagesJulia’s Juliet costume, courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library



Julia Marlowe playing card