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City of Women: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

David R. Gillham
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (410 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $8.01 (50%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description


It is 1943—the height of the Second World War. With the men away at the front, Berlin has become a city of women.

On the surface, Sigrid Schröder is the model German soldier’s wife: She goes to work every day, does as much with her rations as she can, and dutifully cares for her meddling mother-in-law, all the while ignoring the horrific immoralities of the regime.

But behind this façade is an entirely different Sigrid, a woman of passion who dreams of her former Jewish lover, now lost in the chaos of the war. But Sigrid is not the only one with secrets—she soon finds herself caught between what is right and what is wrong, and what falls somewhere in the shadows between the two . . .


Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2012: While the world hardly lacks for novels about World War II, David R. Gillham's City of Women is extraordinary for what it does not do. It does not detail the events or imagined conversations of Hitler's Reich, and it has not a single scene of life in the death camps. Instead, it chronicles--in detail so specific that it's mesmerizing, but not so obviously researched as to be annoying--life for “ordinary” Berliners at a time that was anything but. Through heroine Sigrid Schroder, a German wife drawn into an affair with a Jew, Gillham shows us a world in which not all Germans are bad, not all Jews are victims, and loyalty is a fiction--the grimmest of fairy tales. --Sara Nelson


Gillham's Berlin is a terrified city, where nobody dare speak the truth and the smallest decision can cost you your life. A terrifically tense first novel The Times Gillham evokes beautiful and dark cinematic imagery, which lifts the story off the page Big Issue David Gillham's excellent new novel, City of Women, is built on one of the most extraordinary and faithful recreations of a time in history - Berlin in World War II - that I've ever read. -- Alan Furst In this moving and masterful debut, David Gillham brings war-torn Berlin to life and reveals the extraordinary mettle of women tested to their limits and beyond. Powerful and piercingly real. You won't soon forget these characters. -- Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife [A] stunning debut ... Gillham puts a fresh spin on the horrors of WWII Publishers Weekly Scene after scene burns into the reader's memory ... I can already imagine the film Book Oxygen A page-turner ... City of Women challenges preconceptions We Love This Book

Product Details

  • File Size: 1023 KB
  • Print Length: 408 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0241145635
  • Publisher: Berkley; Reprint edition (August 7, 2012)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007T8LAE6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,315 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
175 of 181 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Multi-Dimensional Story May 25, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"City of Women" sounded interesting enough from the description on the product page, but the actually story told within the book's pages is a lot more. There is so much to Sigrid and the other women who populate these pages that this was a hard volume to put down. Honestly, minus a brief break halfway through, I read it all in one sitting because I couldn't NOT find out what was going to become of Sigrid and the other characters.

As I write this, it is approximately 2.5 months until the book's release, so the product page may be updated with more info prior to that date. However, in case it is not, I will offer up a larger synopsis:

The story largely takes place in both 1943 Berlin and in Sigrid's reflections on the months before her husband Kaspar was put into the Army and shipped to Russia and when she was having an affair with a Jewish man she met in a movie theater. Throughout the book Sigrid continues going to work at the patent office, flashing back to former times, and then befriending a young girl in her building named Ericha who is working through an informal underground (in that it never belies a connection to any of the named larger underground groups) that is protecting Jews and other "criminals" from deportation. Ultimately Sigrid becomes part of this group while also befriending the half-brother and half-sister of an SS soldier, entering bomb shelters during air force attacks, and facing increased scrutiny from friends and neighbors...many of whom have informed on others.

The book is completely captivating during this entire journey, but in the last 100 pages or so, the larger back story that even Sigrid is unaware of behind her friends and lovers unravels.

What really ended up making this a five star book for me is how real it felt.
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69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected love and expected fear in WWII Germany. June 16, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This wasn't an easy book to read. That isn't to say that I didn't enjoy it, but that the characters are dark and joyless and the storyline bleak and desperate. Actually, I was expecting this as it is a novel that takes place in the Germany of WWII -- a place where even aryan Germans are living furtive lives in avoidance of the Gestapo. A place where one wrong word against the government or Fuhrer can get you shipped off to a concentration camp after your neighbor snitches on you. It is in this atmosphere that Sigrid Schroder lives with her mother-in-law while her active-duty husband fights against Russia. She is especially fond of movies and one day in the cinema, meets the Jewish man who will become her lover. The cinema plays a large part in the story as it is also the place where she meets the girl who will suck her into the business of the underground hiding of Jews and is a frequent meeting place between Sigrid and the people who help her along her journey.

As Sigrid becomes more involved with the hiding ring, she begins to learn more about the Jewish man with whom she has fallen in love. When a mother and her two daughters arrive in the hiding place, she is convinced that they are the wife and children of her lover. And when her husband unexpectedly returns, injured, from the Russian front, she must find a way to reconcile her private life of wife and worker with her life of furtiveness, anxiety, and threat of discovery by the Gestapo.

As I said, this wasn't an easy, breezy read ... it took considerable effort on my part, even though I found the story to be an engrossing narrative of German fear, brutality, and eventually, redemption. This was a side of the German people that isn't often written about in fiction; those who were willing to risk everything to help complete strangers escape the Hitler killing machine.
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137 of 148 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How to be a Good German August 8, 2012
I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I didn't know much about this book prior to reading it, but as I began I was intrigued by a narrative about Berlin during World War II from the point of view of an average German woman. I have read many books detailing the atrocities of the Holocaust and one of the questions those books always left me with was "why didn't anybody stop this" and "didn't anybody notice?"

From this story, it would appear that the answer was, yes, people did notice, but in order to do anything about the deportation of Jewish people to concentration camps it was necessary to have a great deal of courage. This courage was not only in the actual act of helping Jewish people to hide, but even the courage simply to step outside of what was expected and required of you as a good German. In this story, at the beginning, Sigrid is a good German, who works as a typist at the patent office and lives with her mother-in-law while her husband is off fighting in the east. I really enjoyed following her awakening of consciousness as she first forces herself to take notice of the horrors going on around her and then to take action to combat those horrors. I also found it interesting that Sigrid takes some not completely moral actions in her personal life that are stark contrasts to the actions she is taking to help others.

The reason that I only gave this book a three star rating rather than higher, despite really enjoying many parts of the story, was that at times I feel like the book suffered a bit from "Forrest Gump Syndrome". It seems that the author, in his urgency to ensure that many parts of the Germans' experience during this time period is explored, causes things to happen to Sigrid and those around her that seem too unbelievable. I would, however, recommend that anyone interested in the WW II time period read this book. (less)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Selected by my book club which consists of women and me.
In 1943 Berlin was a city of women because most of the real men had been sent to Hitler's fronts. The protagonist was an independent sort who helped others hide from the Gestapo. Read more
Published 21 hours ago by Fred Monroe
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
This book portrays the dedication and bravery of people willing to give everything, including their lives, to help those being oppressed during World War !! Germany. Read more
Published 23 hours ago by Linda J Perry
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring
Life is too short if you can't get me in 100 pages good bye, honestly I gave this book like 150. It's just boring. Such a great topic and potential too bad.
Published 6 days ago by Robert C. Mason
5.0 out of 5 stars What would you do??!!
This is a novel that truly defines its characters. That gave me sense of being on the streets of Berlin during WW11 with all its poverty, hope, desperation and tensions. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Michael Corcoran
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling story that will keep you on your toes
A page turner; captivating and enjoyable. A must for historical fiction fans. Great read, enjoy every moment of this unique story of a ordinary women.

Published 12 days ago by Kathleen Donahue
4.0 out of 5 stars great read
Gripping and kept me in suspense the whole way through even if the premise of her savinh her Jewish lovers family highly improbable.
Published 12 days ago by Chardy
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read.
I really enjoyed this book. When it was finished I was disappointed. So many unanswered questions. I can think of so many ways this could have ended. I really wanted an epilogue.
Published 14 days ago by Lucille A. Carter
3.0 out of 5 stars Not What I Expected
It's unusual for me to read a book and not like any of the characters. There were too many sarcastic remarks which became irritating. Read more
Published 15 days ago by OldLaughingLady
4.0 out of 5 stars A good novel about Nazi Germany. Worth the time.
An interesting insight into Nazi Germany and the many women left alone while their men were at the Russian front.
Published 19 days ago by Audrey
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic of the times
I sent a copy to my German born friend who grew up in those times. She thought it was amazing because it was told from the perspective of a whole city of woman coping at those... Read more
Published 20 days ago by Country Preacher
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