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.