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City of Women

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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  7,839 ratings  ·  1,287 reviews
Whom do you trust, whom do you love, and who can be saved?

It is 1943—the height of the Second World War—and Berlin has essentially become a city of women.
Sigrid Schröder 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 i
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Hardcover, 392 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by Putnam Adult
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Sherry Gallagher I don't know why Janice made this statement. On the contrary, I thought 'City of Women' well-written from a perspective of those left behind - mainly…moreI don't know why Janice made this statement. On the contrary, I thought 'City of Women' well-written from a perspective of those left behind - mainly women and children - to cope with daily life in Berlin in the midst of the Second World War. One woman in particular, Sigrid Schroder, finds her compassions leading her into a dubious involvement with a resistance movement. Only because she became aware of all that was going around her and couldn't look away did her living life in this terrified city alter. No one in WWII Berlin could go on as normal even though everyone tried to do so.(less)

Community Reviews

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Stephen King
The city is Berlin, 1943, and the woman we care about is Sigrid, whose husband is fighting on the eastern front. Sigrid is seduced by two very different men (the sex in this book is hot-hot-hot), but the real seduction involves her reluctant participation in a scheme to ferry Jews to safety. You haven’t experienced such gray skies since season 1 of The Killing, but the feel is all Casablanca. I can’t wait for Gillham’s next novel—play it again, Sam.
Lisa Vegan
4 ½ stars

I’m struggling because I want to do this book justice but I am not in the mood to write a review. I want to get something down though when everything is fairly fresh in my mind, because I loved this book.

I read this as a buddy read with my Goodreads friend Diane, and also read it for my real world book club. I’ve been wanting to read this for ages, and I’m so glad I got to this no later than I did.

I even liked the love story, and I’m not a romance fan.

Many of the characters are so memo
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Andrienne
I absolutely loved this book. It was so layered; the characters beautiful, flawed, believable; the scenes unfolding like a brilliant movie (not surprising since the author is an actor and screenwriter). I stayed up until 5 a.m. reading this book--which doesn't happen often--but it is the reason why I read! I love books like this. Sigrid is a great heroine, I rooted for her; Ericha, not so much. Sigrid's lover, Egon, I just kept picturing an awesome Michael Fassbender--ruthless, magnetic and ende ...more
Nancy Oakes
I'm afraid I didn't care for this book all that much, but the setting (atmosphere, sense of place & time) was so well evoked that I can't totally write it off.

I know people are really in love with this novel, and once again I'm swimming against the current of public opinion here because it just didn't do that much for me. In my long review I make the point that the author's original intent to

"...write a novel with a completely female cast of characters, because I wanted to explore wartime
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Chrissie
This book is perfect for those readers who want an intelligent thought-provoking book filled with action, form the first page to the last. It is filled with twists and turns and dead ends. What you think you understand, well you probably don't. You will by the end. If you love the ride of such an adventure I highly recommend this book.

The central theme, other than simply figuring out what was going on, is: what role would YOU have played if you were a German during WW2? Would YOU have the guts t
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Daisy
This is the third book in a row I've read about Berlin in the late 1930s-early 1940s (before this: Kino and before that All That I Am: A Novel).
With every one, details accumulate to make this era more personal, more human, somehow realer to me. This book has some good, sharp dialogue, especially between Sigrid and Ericha and when Sigrid meets Brigitte and Carin. The plot is enthralling although it ties up too quickly in the end. Maybe that's just because I want more of the story and the charact
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Julie
There is no black or white in war, but the variations of gray are infinite. With the protection of history and hindsight, we can sit at our remove and imagine how our moral compass would guide us through treacherous situations, but fiction – well-crafted fiction – can offer three-dimensional dilemma and nuance that our egos would deny.

David Gillham’s City of Women is just such a work and it is an excellent. Berlin in 1943 is a city of shadows. Nearly all able-bodied men are fighting across vario
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Susan Jacoby
"City of Women" is just fine for what it is: a star crossed love story taking place in WWII Germany. Unfortunately, the story lacks many valuable details that would anchor the tale in this time period. Your satisfaction with the story will probably vary according to your expectations. Rereading the books description now, I see the fault lies in me. I will say that narrator Suzanne Bertish is excellent. Her German accent light and pleasant - her intonation catching the rhythms of German speech pe ...more
Diane D.
Such a good read and I'm impressed in many ways - most notably that this is the author's first book, it's a male author writing very well from a female perspective, and every part of the story is very believable, no 'stretches' of the imagination ... (view spoiler)

I've read a few books with WWII as the backdrop, but this was different because it was written
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Judith
1943 Berlin becomes the setting for a real tear jerker of a Soap Opera....Sex is everywhere, both the rough sort and the solo...but no one is happy. Sigrid is busy with her dead end job and Life with Mother-in-Law..while hubby is fighting on the Eastern Front. She makes the acquaintance of a little snippet, who works as a Mother's Helper in their Apartment Building...who subsequently involves Sigrid in the Savory business of hiding Jews from the Nazis...Sigrid drowns her sorrows in Sex....first ...more
Elizabeth
Betrayal. Risk. Double-crossing. Treachery. Violence.

Hitler's 1943 Berlin. Who would you trust? Not your friends. Not your neighbors. Sometimes not even your family. And yet many ordinary Berlin citizens STILL risked their lives over and over to help the Jews. In this case a German soldier's wife helps the underground hide Jews all the while juggling her imperious mother-in-law, her Jewish lover, her SS lover, and various other complicated relationships. This book does an excellent job showing
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Chris
This is a strange novel. It is not a bad novel. It is just strange. The first thing that is strange about is that the characters are not particularly likable. Sigrid, the heroine, lives in Berlin during the Second War World. While she is not a party member, her mother-in-law is and Sigrid’s husband is serving on the Front. Sigrid’s life changes in two ways, one is before her husband leaves, and the second occurs when a young girl asks her for a favor. Slowly, Sigrid wakes up to life.
The book wo
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Laura
I'm so glad I read those reviews Audible sends out of books that have been highly praised by their listeners. Not sure if I'd have read this otherwise, but I really loved this book. Thoroughly enjoyed it. I read multiple books at one time normally, but from the start, this one was it. Everything else fell by the wayside.

It wasn't what I expected. Every time I thought I had it figured out, there was a twist that surprised me. Some other reviewers have mentioned there was too much sex in the book
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Brenda Hawley
The New York Times Book Review was quite unfavorable to this novel last Sunday. I totally disagree with the reviewer. I am very well-read in this historical period and I agree with one of my favorite authors of the genre, Alan Furst, when he says,: (the novel is) built on one of the most extraordinary and faithful re-creations of a time in history- Berlin during World War II." I particularly praised the author's heroine, Sigrid, who is not the sugar-coated Aryan who helps to save Jews during the ...more
Rebecca Huston
A quick paced thriller set in WWII Berlin where the Allied bombs fall nightly, and nothing can be trusted. Sigrid is a young woman with an absent husband and a vile mother-in-law who finds herself thrust into an entanglement with a secret lover and a mysterious young woman that could easily get her killed. All sorts of twists and turns, and a few surprises. While some of it is predictable, I was so involved in the story that I could forgive this flaw. Worth the time to find and four stars overal ...more
Laura Stone Johnson
Sorry, just wan't for me. Sigrid was unlikable in a harsh, cold way, the dialogue was stilted and the sex scenes were awkward, not even including the several times male characters got a kick out of placing Sigrid's hand on their erections. Plus, and I'm not sure here, but I think it might be a bit harder to have sex in a movie theater seat(something involving very skinny people who wouldn't take up too much room in the seat, and one of them having very flexible knees) than the author made out. I ...more
K
While not a perfect book, City of Women tells an interesting story with a great deal of moral ambiguity.

Sigrid, like many women in war-torn 1943 Berlin, has a husband on the front. Sharing an apartment with her difficult mother-in-law, hardworking, stoic Sigrid is gradually drawn into a love affair with a Jew and illegal activities involving saving other Jews. The book reminded me of Those Who Save Us but raised moral questions that were more interesting in my opinion.

Now for the flaws -- certa
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J Adams
Apr 21, 2013 J Adams rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one
I have given up on this one! I grew up loving historical fiction that was truly history come alive.. this doesn't even come close. I am surmising the author meant this for a female audience, but that is not how it was described. Honestly, reading about male genitalia and the ease with which Sigrid falls for Egon and then begins having relations with him just turned me off. And the writing is inconsistent, jumping around and making no sense at times, ie: a sentence that says "only when" immediate ...more
Suze
This book is not a fun or light read. It takes place during WWII in Berlin, Germany as the war is coming to an end. The characters are German citizens of all ages and beliefs. However, there aren't many Jewish characters by then as most have been sent to concentration camps or have been "eliminated".

Those that remain are in hiding from Nazi's and/or Germans who still believe in Hitler's party line. The interesting characters are those who oppose the treatment of Jews and others who don't fit the
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John
I am a fan of historical fiction, especially those works centered on the World War II years. I found this book to be rather unique as it focused on the City of Berlin, and how the residents, especially the women, were horribly affected by the war. The city is under bombardment by the British, and the citizens are subjected to the unrelenting propaganda of the Nazis.

Against this backdrop, the main character, a young German, decides to risk everything to become involved with a small group of peop
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
I received an eARC of this from the publisher as part of the Penguin First Flights program. I'm happy to be done with it so I can participate in the live author chat this coming week!

At first, I wasn't certain I'd enjoy the book. I've stayed away from most wartime literature, particularly WW2, particularly anything having to do with the Holocaust. This is simply because I was inundated with this kind of lit when I was younger, and while I think it is important, sometimes authors seem to use the
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Kate Baxter
I was very much looking forward to this apparently over-hyped book. I thoroughly enjoy well-researched historical fiction novels but this was not one of them. The book had an interesting enough plot but there is minimal development and redemption of characters. It drove home the sad existence of the women, wounded soldiers and hidden Jews. The numerous sex scenes didn't really add much to the story other than it was a means to an end. I'm hard-pressed to recommend this book to anyone I know.
Emily
This book provokes the same question as The Help: Why should we believe that the heroine, almost uniquely in her society, has the strength and moral authority to work against injustice? The question is answered more satisfactorily in this novel because the plot revolves around exploring the question from different angles. In the civil-rights-era South of The Help, Skeeter is portrayed as being simply more morally developed than her peers. In the 1943 Berlin of City of Women, Sigrid's motives for ...more
Lisa B.
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
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Shelli
Wow. This was a great read for me. Totally unexpected. I believe this was a Kindle deal and I'm so glad I got it! Fast-paced and exciting, I literally was reading while standing, any chance I got. Set in Berlin at the height of WW11, this is a story of the women who are left in a city where the able men are off fighting Hitler's war. This story is about choices some of them made and the consequences of those choices. At first, I didn't really like any of the characters even while I was completel ...more
Mary
Set in World War II, this powerful story focuses on Sigrid Schroder and the other women living in the city while all available men (except for SS officers and "criminials") are fighting on the frontlines. The book begins with a slow and steady simmer introducing complex characters with rich histories. The setting is pitch perfect in its believability. Gillham has done a magnificent job in taking the reader back to Berlin in 1943.

This is a tough time for people with a conscience. Sigrid is the go
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Kim
This story is set in Berlin during the last portion of World War 2. I found it to be dark and somber,and oppressive, as I am sure life must have been for most Berliners. The city is filled with women because, naturally, most of the men were off fighting the war. The story is mostly based on the life of one woman in particular, who is dissatisifed with her life (and was prior to the war). She lives with her bitter mother-in-law, and in their building there are a mixture of women left to fend for ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
The subject here really interested me. I was trying to force myself to get into this one, despite my intense dislike of Gillham's prose style and his use of the present tense. Then I looked at a bunch of reviews on Amazon stating that the first two-thirds of the book is hard going and the last third is exciting. I knew I was never going to last through that first two-thirds, so I let it go.
Angie
May 21, 2014 Angie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans
Recommended to Angie by: no one
This book follows Sigrid as she comes around to the idea that life isn't the order she believes it is in Berlin in the second world war. I don't normally read books set in this time period but this one seemed a bit different than the usual books as it foolws mainly the lives of the women left behind when all the men are off fighting. Sigrid becomes part of the underground getting Jews and others out of the city, and tells of the difficulty this is when trying to get even the basics to all these ...more
Pam
This is the story of Berlin during WWII. I will tell you that there are many players in this book and there is a lot that is going on throughout the book, but that is what makes it so dang good.

Sigrid Schroeder is the wife of a German Soldier and lives with her mother in law in an apartment in Berlin. Before she knows it she is involved in hiding and moving Jews out of Berlin.

Throughout the entire book, you are never sure who you can trust and who you can't. Just when you think that you have it
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David R. Gillham was trained as a writer at the University of Southern California, where he moved from screenwriting into fiction. After relocating to New York City, he spent more than a decade in the book business, and now lives with his family in western Massachusetts.
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“The grandpa just stares backward at a world that no longer exists, or forward at a world beyond his comprehension.” 2 likes
“Certainly she no longer thinks of the future, because every day the future proves itself to be a duplicate of the present. So instead she roots through the past.” 1 likes
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