Monday, July 16, 2012

City of Women


It is 1943—the height of the Second World War. With the men taken by the army, Berlin has become a city of women. And while her husband fights on the Eastern Front, Sigrid Schröder is, for all intents and purposes, the model 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 who dreams of her former Jewish lover, who is now lost in the chaos of the war.
Sigrid’s tedious existence is turned upside down when she finds herself hiding a mother and her two young daughters—whom she believes might be her lover’s family—and she must make terrifying choices that could cost her everything. (Overview from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

I certainly was intrigued when I read the overview for this book. Little did I know the story would become an obsession. This was one of those book that I wanted to constantly be reading but did not want it to end.

Sigrid has a simple, albeit boring, life. She is a German wife who lives with her very mean mother-in-law. She has an affair and falls in love with a secretive Jewish man named Egon Weiss. She meets a young girl named Ericha, who is involved with helping Jews escape the horrors of 1943 Germany. Ericha goads Sigrid into helping with escapees, called u-boats because they are “those in hiding. ‘submarines’, because they are submerged and must run silently to avoid detection and destruction.” One family consists of a woman and her two daughters. Egon has told Sigrid that he has a wife and two daughters that he believes are dead. Could this be them?

What should she do? Who can she ask for help, when today’s friend could be tomorrow’s enemy. One misstep, one wrong word, one wrong look and the whole process could come tumbling down.

I often put this book down with my stomach in knots from the suspense. There were several twists and I often gasped when someone who seemed trustworthy turned out to be not so.

I am so often amazed at the art of storytelling. This book is a perfect example of why. A page turner from the very beginning. I hope Mr. Gillham has more tales to weave, as I would definitely be interested in reading any other books that he may write.

Thank you so much to Penguin Group (USA) and Netgalley for allowing me to read this ARC for an unbiased review.

Publish date: August 7, 2012.

My Rating: 5 of 5