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.
©2012 David R. Gillham (P)2012 Penguin Audio
Narration AND plot are outstanding in this well written novel that provides a German woman's journey through WWII as she struggles with an unpopular and illegal (at the time) decision to support the underground movement of protecting Jews from the Nazis. A must listen!
Yes Yes Yes. This is amazing. The author controls the tension and suspense. It is almost unbearable to listen to.
Suzanne was amazing. Her skills stunning. Her expression and storytelling superb.
Yes but it is difficult to get the time. You need to listen to it in large chunks.
Wonderful, superb, gripping, terrifying and all so real.
How the clever plot unfolded itself to the listener.
Sigrid Schroeder.This women experienced every emotion with courage and tenacity.She is totally credible - a simple honest housewife thrown into a maelstrom of treachery against her will.
When Egon finally gives Sigrid an explanation for his abominable and ruthless treatment of his fellow Jewish compatriots. Up until this time I did not warm to this character but the vivid account of his experiences made me ask myself 'what would you have done if confronted with the choices and decisions he had to make to survive.
I would invite Caspar. I would like to have found out more about his character and how he felt as the story unfolded. For me, he was the sad victim of the current time. He lost everything that was dear to him in such a short space of time.
I was enthralled with this book. Having lived in Germany as a 'Schwiegertochter' I was able to empathize with Sigrid. However, I was slightly irritated when the storyteller was unable to pronounce some of the German place names. This might not be of importance to a listener who did not understand German well.
I enjoy listening to great detective mysterie & also great thrillers. I enjoy books also by Vince Flynn, David Baldaci including assasins.
The twist and turns and the narrator did an excellent job.
She made that time seem so more real that you would not have received from reading. She did an excellent job with Sigrid's character.
Sigrid. The way she matured throughout the book in ways I did not expect.
Once started I could not stop until finished. This is a great listen. It didn't end as expected but ended great all the same.
Yes - bought this audio book by accident and thought OMG an audio !-but loved it and had it playing whilst driving long rides home from work and cooking meals - may have missed some small bits
Actually looked forward to long drive home at the end of a working day.
Just the different charactors and voices, emotions
don't know but would make a great movie
This book ranks #1 of all the audiobooks I have listened to so far. I couldn't wait to hear each chapter.
I loved the way the writer created multi-dimensional characters with an orginal story. A vivid account of WWII Berlin through the eyes of a fascinating woman. The novel's plot provides a terrific read while also displaying many aspects of life in Nazi Germany. Truly, no character is predictable.
Sigrid is a non-forgettable character who seems so real. Fantastic writing. I thought the author was a woman because Sigrid's feelings and emotions are so authentic. What a surprise to discover that the author was male.
All the characters were memorable.
Ms. Bertish's performance enhanced the book for me. If I had read the book, the German street names would have been distracting but Ms. Bertish's reading made them a integrated part of the story.
Yes I would recommend this audibook. The story was very intriguing and I found myself looking for reasons to prolong the times I was listening.
The ending was very moving.
The development of the main character was superb. Nothing felt jarring or unreal. I really identified with Frau Schroeder.
Say something about yourself!
When I saw the listing of Gilham's novel, I was unsure if I wanted to download it. However, the WWII buff in me was curious to hear a description of wartime Berlin from the perspective of ordinary people. I was not disappointed with the story and Suzanne Bertish's narration was absolutely superb. The depiction of the characters living under the stress of food shortages and Allied bombing is fantastic. For the history lover this is a great listen.
Yes. This is a gripping piece of work consisting of an intelligent dialogue between a set of strong, complex characters.
Its historic reference that paints a real life image of what life might have been like in a time and place that we as Americans are not typically exposed to in our traditional schooling.
Everything. A reader's range of volume is critical to me. Suzanne stays clear of the pitfall of one moment speaking so softly it is difficult to clearly hear what is being said, to another moment where the shouting makes you flinch. She also crosses gender roles very well. All this says nothing of an appropriate German accent.
There are too many to mention.
This was my first Audible experience. I am writing this review after listening to nearly a dozen other recordings. I was afraid to review this immediately after listening to the recording for not having any other reference point. This is also my first Audible review. I have come back to pen these comments with a sense of gratitude to David Gillham, who I still cannot believe has not been published prior to this novel, and to Suzanne Bertish for combining on a wonderfully creative experience. An experience that did exactly as it should: transport me temporarily from one place to the next with grace, style, and a means that opens my senses and invites my mind expand its knowledge. Thank you, both.
wow! what a great listen. I've read a number of books (both fiction and nonfiction) set during the WWII era, but this was far more "grittier" than most. Really peels back the layers and describes what ordinary Germans were confronted with during the Nazi regime. Great narration by someone who could do a German accent, too (or perhaps Ms Bertish is German). This is one of those books that is better listened to than read, due to the pronunciations of all of the German locations, etc. Highly recommend!
"My favourite listen of 2013"
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.
"A Truly Brilliant Historical Thriller"
David Gillham has burst forth into the ranks of Furst and Le Carre with this perfectly shaped gem of a novel. The story, the characters, the historical detail, and the energy of the story telling, propel you through this amazing book. I've never encountered a novel with such telling and powerful use of detail and such a stunning presentation of a moment in history. I loved it, and it's stayed with me for a long time after. Also the narrator was absolutely perfect! Incredible performance, amazing voices, beautifully read! Sigrid is a wonderful protagonist, and her story is very gripping and ultimately moving. A great sense of women and women's lives as well. Highest Recommendation!
"Powerful and thought provoking"
I have already recommended this as an engaging listen. I really disliked most of the characters to begin with but over time they emerged as well rounded characters dealing with appalling situations as people do- some well, most not so well. Over time the enormous bravery of flawed people made for a fascinating listen.
There is a lot of well written sex!
The twists and turns of the plot were great- I don't want to give anything away...
The protagonist of course
Lots of moments especially the friendships of women and the humanity and selflessness they showed
Persevere beyond the first couple of chapters as this is necessary scene setting- the mundane life of citizens at war
"Slow but good in the end"
I found the start of the book a bit slow going, but after chapter 4 got into all the characters and enjoyed it from then on. The narrator was very good, and portrayed the different character very well.
"Little heard story of the German resistance"
Very powerful story of the German resistance in Berlin during WW2. Well narrated. Left me thinking of it for days and how I would have acted in their shoes.
I would certainly read it, whether I would listen again is another matter. What should be a really engaging story is sullied by a somewhat cold delivery. I'm not sure whether that's because the lead character is cold and aloof, or whether it's the delivery that has he words delivered exceedingly forcefully, which makes you feel she's almost shouting at the others in the story.
That said, the gradual immersion in the lot works well, and the slow realisation of the propaganda the citizens are being fed works well, and the characters surrounding her are well rounded and believable. Just a shame about that steam-rollering disconnection.
The slight and yet exceedingly strong willed young lady who leads with bravery, courage and not a little recklessness our heroine to act rather than wallow.
Cold, disconnected, confident
No, it wasn't that engaging, although as you get into the story of Auntie and the undercover world, it certainly becomes much more engaging.
Yes I would certainly recommend this book to a friend with confidence they would enjoy it.
Black Roses. The intrigue of the inside workings of the ordinary good german during WW2.
Suzanne Bertish is a stunning narrator. She portrayed the v. nasty mother in law in genius fashion. I loathed the old cow as she intended me to. I would look out for books narrated by her in the future.
I will leave it a month or two and definitely listen to this again as it is many layered.
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