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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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486None21,722 (3.84)56
Member:MmeRose
Title:City of Women
Authors:David R. Gillham
Info:Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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City of Women by David R. Gillham

Recently added byprivate library, Luckyfloss, devenish, CharlaOppenlander, SaftaBC, lmm161, rjtellison, goet0095, turk70
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  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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Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
Wanted to like this book, but found it quite harrowing to read! Berlin in WW2 is a frightening place to live. I'm not entirely convinced by a man writing so intimately about a woman. ( )
  Luckyfloss | Apr 14, 2014 |
Excellent novel about Berlin during WWII with a German Frau who finds herself enmeshed in moving "u-boats" or Jews and those fleeing from the Reich. ( )
  KarenHerndon | Feb 27, 2014 |
I think I liked it, if it weren't for that annoying, distracting present tense and the repetitive use of the adjective "thick!" I mean c'mon, how can everything be thick and what does it eventually mean anyway?

I cannot, however, completely knock Gillham's writing skills. There were numerous bits of prose that I highlighted for its creativity. But they were pretty much used up in the first chapter like bait. Then everything became thick and otherwise redundant in description.

That said, the plot is excellent with parts that I sped read in excitement, then reread or thought through to make sure I got its twists and implications. I would've given it 4 stars if I liked the story better. It was difficult for me to appreciate all the German terms and that period disturbs me. But it was worth reading for the thought provoking portrayal of women, which is the only reason I did read it. What I appreciated most was the conflict between those Berliners who believed in the Party and those who had sense to know it was insane. This story could've delved much deeper into those characters in order to truly be a better historical novel. That's complicated tho and would've turned this book into a literary epic rather than the airport novel it is.

I noticed some readers complained about the necessity of all the sex. Perhaps not, but it does not detract from the story. I'd say it lends to a particularly well-planned, ironic twist on page 352. You'll see.

The 3rd act was gripping in which the growth of the heroine amidst various betrayals is inspiring. If you like period stories with leading, heroic women I recommend this story. ( )
  KikiUnhinged | Feb 9, 2014 |
I found this to be an interesting story of a German woman during the war who has to make difficult decisions. She lives her life taking many risks both from a personal perspective and ethical. Living during this time must have been terrible and it was a great story to read from a woman's point of view who was faced with many moral deliberations. I cheered for her all the way through! ( )
  tinkerbellkk | Jan 21, 2014 |
Sigrid, a cynical Berliner with husband fighting in Russia, is living a lock-step gray life. Apolitical, struggling to remain oblivious to the atrocities of the Nazis, living with her critical mother-in-law, she escapes to the balcony of a nearby movie theater whenever possible. There, in the darkness allegorical to her existence, life assails her. First, she is picked up by a handsome stranger who turns out to be Jewish. Next, she agrees to serve as an alibi for a young woman who works in her apartment building. As Sigrid is drawn into these two lives, she has to confront her passivity and make difficult decisions. A thoughtful yet well-paced book well worth reading. ( )
  wareagle78 | Jan 15, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 70 (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
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The blind man taps his cane rhythmically.
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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.
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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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