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
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!
If you want to listen to a book that's full of passion and despair, then this will fit the bill. The most interesting aspect is the main character's evolution from a naiive, lonely housewife into a hardened and courageous woman with a strong sense of morality as well as irony. The narrator is perfect, but her evocation of dismal daily life in wartime Berlin made me want to turn to something more lighthearted and escapist for my next selection.
Probably that I lived in Berlin as a student in the 70s.
Probably Sigrid because she has great integrity and intelligence and allows her life to happen without trying to control it too much.
Already forgot his name, but maybe the SS officer with whom Sigrid has the affair. He's wonderfully complex and well-realized by the narrator.
Tales from the German WWII Underground.
At one point, it seemed like one of those stories where all the Germans were secretly good and working against the Nazis--but then the story then took interesting twists and added levels of complexity to make the characters more human and believable.
David Gillham's moving and true words, in the hands of Suzanne Bertish's uncanny voicing of these flawed and damaged characters, left me in a continual state of anticipation, wonder, and concern for the characters. One cannot help being amazed at the depth of research necessary to convey the sense of realism that had me peering over my shoulder for signs of trouble from time to time in "the German glance."
Like all good fiction, Gillham's story never betrays the reader's sense of trust in the trueness of the story and characterizations in a moving portrayal of how ordinary people react bravely or cowardly in the face of government evil. I found City of Women a completely surprising and thrilling performance. Bravo!
Compelling, richly described depiction of Berlin during the Hitler regime through the eyes of a young woman. As she awakens to the horror of conditions created by propaganda and hatred, Sigrid, the main character is moved to act.
Reminded me of Alan Furst's novels.
My favorite scene is when Sigrid explains her political actions to her husband. While she is able to confront their dilemma, he has given up and throws himself under the wheel of tyranny. He does not condemn her. His acceptance reflects the helplessness of many German citizens who reluctantly resigned themselves to the inhumanity of the regime.
I loved this book - I hated this book. My fingernails are bitten to the quick. And I've turned blue from holding my breath. Maybe you have to be of my generation (I was born in 1938) to really be affected by this story. I remember the newsreels and the newspapers during the second world war. This story of a non-Jew who helped Jews escape Nazi Germany seemed to me to be so real. Her miraculous escapes from the Gestapo sometimes seemed a little too miraculous - but I wouldn't have it any other way. And Bertish's narration was right on - not too dramatic - just right. The accent (I'm no expert) seemed to me to be perfect and helped me visualize the characters - the characters who were so true to life. One of my favorite characters was the mother-in-law. I felt total pity for her and would have pushed her out the window long ago. This book should be required reading for all those who can't look around and realize that such things are still going on in the world and couldn't possibly happen here.
I loved reading the book. I want to get the audio book for my brother. It is a book that every person should give to each of the people who must read this book, It is a special gift for each person who reads the book or listens to the audio book.. I could never put the book down, It is a book about the Holocaust and Hitler. I will never understand how anybody could be so mean to anyone. When we were stationed in Germany, not one German admitted there was a Hitler or a concentration camp. Now the High School students in Germany must learn about Hitler and his team and go to a concentration camp. I am so pleased that the Board of Education is making the students know about the horrible things that were done to other people. Six million Jews were killed during World War two.
The way some of Germans wanted to help the Jewish people to hide from the atrocities performed by Hitler and his group of officers.
Intriguing characters and a well-written story about German women living in Berlin during WW II. I really liked the characters and how the story evolved, and I will read more by this author.
i like to read. i like to listen.
This was one of the top books I listened to. Suzanne Bertish was a great narrator, giving life not only to Sigrid, but to all the characters in this wonderful story. What I liked abut her narration is that she was so emotional as she read.
I've never listened to another one, but I will be putting her on my list to hear again.
i was so excited and intrigued by this book. Sigrid's story was fascinating...twists and turns on every page. i thought that she was a truly strong female character - even with all her flaws - she embodied what all great lead women do. courage and empathy, but also sadness and doubt.
i was enthralled following Sigrid as she tried maneuvering wartime Berlin, and all it's cast of characters. And i loved that as a reader, we didn't know the truth about anyone...we found out as she did. friends were enemies, enemies were friends. who could she trust? could she even trust herself to do the right things?
i loved every minute of this novel. i wish it never ended.
Powerful, intense, interesting
The descriptive writing
The entire book moved me, the writing was beautiful and the depth with which the author portrayed the protagonist made the story fascinating
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