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 facade 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...
MY REVIEW: "City of Women" is a big book, but then again, author David R. Gillham has a big story to tell. World War II Berlin has sent away its men to fight, leaving behind women of all ages and social standing to cope and continue a shell existence. Nothing can be right until the cruel conflict is over, but will it ever really be over? As Sigrid Schroder's husband wages war on the Eastern Front, Sigrid goes through all the expected motions. She goes to her job, manages to sustain with rations and other deprivations, and dutifully suffers her mother-in-law's attitude and opinions. All outward appearances suggest Sigrid is loyal and true to the German regime. However, her dreams of her dangerous involvement with her Jewish former lover begin to unravel the wool over her eyes. Sigrid recklessly shelters a woman and her children whom she believes to be the family of her lost lover. The choices Sigrid is forced to make will no longer allow her to ignore the atrocities of the war around her. David R. Gillham is an extraordinary storyteller, creating imperfect, unforgettable characters. Most of all, he paints exquisitely intimate portraits of women who live with the face of death beside them in their mirrors. David R. Gillham, what will be your next gift to your readers?
Review Copy Gratis Amazon Vine
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 --Amazon.com
"You haven't experienced such gray skies since season 1 of The Killing, but the feel is all Casablanca. I can't wait for Gillham's next novel—play it again, Sam." —Stephen King
"The writing is a great mix of the literary and commercial, page-turning and suspenseful, with a morally complex, intelligent heroine at its center. If you’re a fan of well-written historical novels in the vein of Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, this one is for you."--Slate
“If you enjoy beautiful storytelling, gripping suspense, and distractingly romantic plot, this is the book for you! An exciting page-turning read!”—Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House
“A thriller of searing intensity that asks the most urgent of questions—how to love, who to trust, what can be saved in the very darkest of times. I found it utterly compelling.” —Margaret Leroy, New York Times bestselling author of The Soldier’s Wife
“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 . . . Transcendent prose.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“As impossible to put down as it is to forget.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A terrifically tense first novel."—The Times