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City of Women by David R. Gillham
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City of Women (edition 2012)

by David R. Gillham

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5627817,723 (3.84)62
Member:Disie35
Title:City of Women
Authors:David R. Gillham
Info:Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Your library, Kindle, READ2012
Rating:****
Tags:WW II, Berlin, Kindle book, READ2012

Work details

City of Women by David R. Gillham

  1. 10
    A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary by Marta Hillers (betsytacy)
    betsytacy: After reading Gillham's novel about a German woman's life in Berlin at the height of World War II, including her affair with a Jewish man and her growing involvement in hiding Jewish residents, turn to A Woman in Berlin, an anonymous diary account of a woman's struggle to survive the Russian occupation of Berlin at the end of the war.… (more)
  2. 10
    Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (pdebolt)
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» See also 62 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
Excellent book. The only issue is the historical facts. There has been a trend lately of books that show Germans saving Jews and protesting the war but this is not accurate. But a very good read and somewhat unpredictable. ( )
  shazjhb | Mar 21, 2015 |
Perfect book to read on your BVG commute. ( )
  Noa.Tamir | Dec 28, 2014 |
Perfect book to read on your BVG commute. ( )
  Noa.Tamir | Dec 28, 2014 |
I bought this on impulse without much research (I'm wary of debut novels usually)... and what a find it turned out to be. This had me glued to my seat throughout.

Beautifully narrated, it is a moving and compelling story of - mostly - women in Berlin during WWII. The story revolves mainly around women helping Jews escape capture by the Gestapo. The range of characters includes nazis, resistance heros and heroines, soldiers and ordinary women - and various mixtures thereof. It puts you face to face with moral complexity and ethical dilemmas. It's a moving love story and an even more moving story of an unlikely friendship. It is all shades of grey; no black and white, no right and wrong. Good guys behaving badly and bad guys behaving heroically. Fallible individuals facing extreme situations in different ways.

It's well written, psychologically insightful and atmospheric. I can't wait to see if David Gillham has further novels in the pipeline.

Only one quibble - correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the Gedächtniskirche so named after WWII? If so, it's an anachronism that the characters in the book call it that. ( )
  Fibri | Dec 23, 2014 |
City of Women caught my eye because I’ve been reading a great deal of non-fiction titles around this period of history and I was interested to see how a fictional account of World War II told from a German woman’s perspective squared up to the facts.

In City of Women, Sigrid Schroeder is more than just a German woman: she is the wife of a Nazi soldier and lives with his mother who is staunchly patriotic. Or rather, is willing to be staunchly patriotic if she thinks she’ll benefit in some way by treachery or betrayal. Therefore, Sigrid is taking an immense risk when she does two things. The first is that she has an affair. The second is that she agrees to help people who are hiding from the Nazis. Both require Sigrid to take immense risks, with no gain to her own life and with the very real risk of losing everything.

City of Women was a very good read for three reasons. First of all, it is well written, not overly sentimental, nor overly gritty, but balanced and steady. It draws you in, then pushes you back a little, over and over. You feel the distance from Sigrid that those around her must feel and that she herself feels. Next, the author portrays very well the dilemmas of many Germans during the Second World War, the fear of speaking up lest they be killed. However, the steps beyond that – where looking away, becomes looking at, becomes encouraging – remain a grim reality that this book does not shy away from. That said, this is not a witch hunt, nor an anti-German rant. It is just honest. Finally, Gillham cleverly captures the atmosphere of fear, suspicion, antagonism within a city in turmoil. There are no scenes within the concentration camps or outside of the city but the book still has a huge impact: the oppression, fear, confusion, guilt, anger and bitterness is felt with every page.

Sometimes a book is less about the story than the characters. Sometimes it’s less about the characters than the setting. In City of Women, Gillham has drawn together a dark time, a troubled soul, a beautiful city and the tragedy of millions. Through one woman’s tale he gives us a glimpse of the suffering and tragedy of those who lost their lives or freedom and the sickening day-to-day angst of those who retained theirs – but at what cost? ( )
1 vote donnambr | Nov 27, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
This is a shopworn premise, but Gillham has two great strengths that elevate his story. The first is his hard-won command of Berlin in 1943, its geography, its restaurants and hotels, even its language. (There are German words on nearly every page, but they seem authentic, never showy.) Second, and more significantly, his characters suffer from the full moral complexity of their time. A woman and a man, of whose integrity we have been sure, betray their friends not out of evil, but because they face impossible dilemmas, what the Holocaust scholar Lawrence L. Langer has called "choiceless choices" — while the book's villains have flashes of crabby, unexpected selflessness.
added by ozzer | editUSA Today, Charles Finch (Aug 6, 2012)
 
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Epigraph
"Take hold of kettle, broom, and pan, then you'll surely get a man! Shop and office leave alone, Your true life's work lies at home." -Common German rhyme of the 1930s

"Who will ever ask in three or five hundred years' time whether a Fraulein Muller or Schulze was unhappy?" -Heinrich Himmler, Reichsfuhrer of the SS and Chief of the German police, circa 1941
Dedication
To Ludmilla
First words
The blind man taps his cane rhythmically.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Sigrid Schroder is the model German soldier's wife during World War II, except for one secret, she misses her Jewish lover, but she is not the only one with secrets, and she must choose to act on what is right and what is wrong and what falls somewhere in the shadows between the two when the carefully constructed fortress of solitude she has built over the years begins to collapse.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 039915776X, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2012: While the world hardly lacks for novels about WWII, 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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:19:17 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Hiding her clandestine activities behind the persona of a model Nazi soldier's wife at the height of World War II, Sigrid Schroeder dreams of her former Jewish lover and risks everything to hide a mother and two young children who she believes might be her lover's family.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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