City of Women, by David R. Gillham, is an incredible book, and a compelling look into the underlying forces that ordinary citizens, mainly women, in Berlin chose to implement during World War II.
During World War II, Berlin, normally a city with a large population, had mainly women within its city walls, due to the fact most of the men were off to war. The women that remain, and what many of them eventually take on, turns the pages of this novel into an intense story.
Sigrid is one of those women left in Berlin, and she not only masquerades her daily life and its journeys, but also has an affair with a Jewish man. Eventually, due to her decisions, she must reconcile her life as a wife with her life as a lover. She must combine and coordinate her daily life and its goings on that are expected of her, with her pursuit to help Jews.
While the Berlin residents do almost anything to avoid interacting with the Gestapo, Sigrid lives with her mother-in-law, and her husband is off to war. Her love of movies brings her a chance encounter with her soon to be Jewish lover. The movie theater also bring her to meet a woman who calls on her to help in the hiding of Jews in the underground movement.
City of Women is a page-turner, and once I began it, I read it straight through. The visuals are brilliant, and the novel is a magnificent exploration of war and the willingness to do the correct thing. It is a metaphor for the strength of women, and the heroics that some German women displayed during the extreme horrific and the tumultuous of times.
City of Women is a book of love and war, good and evil, of soul searching, of decisive actions, and of redemption. It is a masterful depiction of daily life in Berlin during the Holocaust.
I highly recommend City of Women, by David R. Gillham to everyone.