Ignore the cover – I don’t know what the bubbles are about. This is one of the most sexy, intelligent, engrossing novels I’ve read in years. Berlin: emptied and starving at the height of WWII. The able-bodied men gone: a city of women--full of despair, pettiness, intrigue, and strange and random kindnesses. Sigrid is caught in a web of mystery and memory, loyalty, passion.— Jocelyn
City of Women is a novel about the women left behind in Berlin during World War II while their husbands were away. These women weren’t sitting around knitting; they endured air raids, the secret police, and hostility on every corner. A simple trip to the movies could be life altering, as Sigrid Schroeder finds out when she is thrust into a double life of espionage and clandestine meetings with devastating consequences. I simply couldn’t put this one down.— Kat
“In this powerful debut, Gillham gives voice to the remarkable women left to defend the home front in war-torn Berlin. He masterfully juxtaposes their courage and determination in the face of opposition with fear, loneliness, and despair. Impeccably told, City of Women is a sensual, suspenseful read filled with extraordinary characters and exceptional moments of resilience, humanity, and grace.”
— Anderson McKean, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL
It is 1943 the height of the Second World War and Berlin has essentially become a city of women.
Sigrid Schroder is, for all intents and purposes, 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 who dreams of her former lover, now lost in the chaos of the war. Her lover is a Jew.
But Sigrid is not the only one with secrets.
A high ranking SS officer and his family move down the hall and Sigrid finds herself pulled into their orbit. A young woman doing her duty-year is out of excuses before Sigrid can even ask her any questions. And then there's the blind man selling pencils on the corner, whose eyes Sigrid can feel following her from behind the darkness of his goggles.
Soon Sigrid is embroiled in a world she knew nothing about, and as her eyes open to the reality around her, the carefully constructed fortress of solitude she has built over the years begins to collapse. She must choose to act on what is right and what is wrong, and what falls somewhere in the shadows between the two.
In this page-turning novel, David Gillham explores what happens to ordinary people thrust into extraordinary times, and how the choices they make can be the difference between life and death.
“David Gillham’s excellent new novel, City of Women, is built on one of the most extraordinary and faithful re-creations of a time in history—Berlin in World War II—that I’ve ever read.” —Alan Furst, New York Times–bestselling author of Spies of the Balkans
“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
“Haunting and sensual, City of Women is a story of survival, of the unfathomable choices made and consequences suffered by those pushed to the brink. David Gillham has depicted a little-known aspect of the war with humanity and grace.” —Pam Jenoff, internationally bestselling author of The Things We Cherished
“If you enjoy beautiful story telling, gripping suspense, and a 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
“City of Women is a big, brilliant, passionate book, a masterful evocation of Hitler’s Berlin in all its claustrophobia, duplicity, and fear. This is a thriller of searing intensity. . . . I found it utterly compelling.” —Margaret Leroy, New York Times–bestselling author of The Soldier’s Wife
“. . . Philip Kerr and Alan Furst have outdone their literary counterparts. Now, with his first novel, City of Women, David R. Gillham joins their rank.” —USA Today
“Gillham's debut novel is a meticulously researched and beautifully told love story—and a remarkable look at life in Germany during World War II.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Page-turning and suspenseful, with a morally complex, intelligent heroine…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
One of Kirkus Review’s Best Fiction Books of 2012