Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Fräulein M.” as Want to Read:
Fräulein M.
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Fräulein M.

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  553 ratings  ·  83 reviews
BERLIN, 1931: Sisters raised in a Catholic orphanage, Berni and Grete Metzger are each other’s whole world. That is, until life propels them to opposite sides of seedy, splendid, and violent Weimar Berlin. Berni becomes a cigarette girl, a denizen of the cabaret scene alongside her transgender best friend, who is considering a risky gender reassignment surgery. Meanwhile G ...more
Paperback, 302 pages
Published January 1st 2017 by Gallery Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Fräulein M., please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Caroline Woods
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Caroline Woods
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  553 ratings  ·  83 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Fräulein M.
Norah Una Sumner

This is, first of all, a fantastically written book whose characters will grow on you even if you don’t really approve of their actions. Even though it is written in the third person, this book will give you a great perspective into lives of many different people who try to survive in a tragic pre-war situation in Germany. Two sisters who have never been apart will be forced onto different paths. One will stand with Jews and befriend a phenomenal transgender Anita, while the other one will becom
Caroline Woods
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
After five years of writing and a three-year agent/publisher search, I feel very fortunate to be able to introduce you to Berni, Grete, and Anita. Enjoy--I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In brief - A twisting and powerful read - highly evocative of time and place. 4.5/5.

In full
This book revolves around the stories of two orphaned sisters who are in a West Berlin orphanage and it starts in 1923. Berni and Grete are the sisters and the book looks at their lives over time from one or the other's perspective up until the late 1930s. There is also a strand of the story which is obviously connected in some way set in America in the 1970s. Over this time the two girls lives take very d
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've read a lot of WWII historical fiction and they all start to blend together after awhile, but this one stands out; it comes from a different angle and is incredibly engaging. I picked it up on a snowy afternoon then ended up staying awake until 2am so I could finish it! I love historical books that jump to present time (or near-present time in this case) and I appreciate that the author didn't just tie it up in a bow at the end but rather went a step further and gave us a little bit more of ...more
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I finished Fraulein M. as the sun was rising this morning and when I decided to eat my lunch later in the day, I was kind of sad to remember that I had finished the book a few hours earlier. Some books feel like friends, and this was one of them.
I hesitate to call this a World War II novel because the setting is really pre-World War II, but for the sake of the argument, this is different from other books set in that period of time. This is wonderfully written and tasteful, suspenseful at times,
Jessie Painter
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fraulein M draws you right into Berlin in 1930 during the rise of Hitler. A suspenseful story unfolds through the eyes of two sisters thrown into psychological conflict amidst a rapidly changing and frightening German landscape. Woods explores the increased pressure on the human psyche and moral dilemmas faced by those living in a world with significant evils. The raw emotions and subsequent actions made by Grete and Berni are hauntingly relatable and shed light onto our own human experiences in ...more
Margaret Duke-Wyer
The Cigarette Girl by Caroline Woods

The opening section of Caroline Woods novel is based in South Carolina in 1970 and Janeen Moore and her mother Anita are mourning the death of her father. When a letter arrives for her mother, Janeen reads it and discovers that it is written in German (where her mother was born). Janeen responds to the letter pretending to be her mother. Her mother’s story is then revealed.

It began in Berlin in 1931 when two sisters Berni and Grete are taken to an
Katherine Diehl
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I absolutely loved this book! I usually don't read historical fiction, but after this I might have to more often. This story was impressively told and intricately detailed. Truly examines the complexity of family and trust over the course of time. Good work Caroline!! I loved every minute of it.
Mary Jo
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A story of the life of two orphan sisters in pre-World War II Berlin, Germany (Weimar Republic). An easy read with a few interesting twists, plus some subject matter that is not normally discussed in the historical fiction that takes place during this era. Recommend.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A riveting debut novel that should be at the top of your to-read list! As the Dept. of Homeland Security has been ordered to track and publish crimes committed by unauthorized immigrants and cries of “fake news” dominate present-day headlines, reading Fraulein M. in the context of our current American political climate was captivating, enlightening, and unsettling. From the waning progressive years of the Weimar Republic to the rise of conservative Nazism, the struggles of Berni and Grete, two o ...more
Excellent book. There was never a boring page. This is a kind of novel that you would like to slow down in your reading as every word is used properly to make the whole story right. A powerful and incredibly moving novel, that once read is never forgotten. I picked this book up partly due to my interest in WWII and I can't rate this book more highly.
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazingly well written! Such a fast read that kept me invested with each character and wondering what would happen next. There were several surprises that I didn't see coming which I love. I look forward to Caroline Woods' next book!
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm ready for the movie.
May 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great read, featuring a side of the build up to WW2 that is rarely covered. I loved the Sisters and I was routing for their bond to prevail. Definitely a few insights into the regimes of the Nazi party that I was unaware of, including the Lebensborn. Very informative and handled difficult subject matters with grace.
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
*I received this book as a part of a Goodread's First Reads giveaway.

Rating 5/5

Fräulein M is a historical-fiction novel that follows the lives of two orphaned German sisters: Birdi, the outspoken "takes the bull by the horns" sister, and Grete, the more reserved sister with hearing problems. The story describes the girls upbringing in Berlin, Germany during in the 1920s-1930s and all that they did to stay alive during hard times. Later on the novel jumps to 1970s America where we meet a new char
Marina Kantorova
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very well write debut novel. Highly recommend!
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thought this book was fantastic. I was interested in Berlin before World War II, especially after watching Cabaret. And then, I found this book. It's about two sisters, Berni and Grete, who are raised in an orphanage in the late '20's and early 30's. Germany struggled after World War I and the orphanage is suffering. As such, the girls have to make their own way in the world.

Berni ends up as a cigarette girl at a cabaret and befriends Anita, a transvestite. Grete becomes a housekeeper and ends
Stephanie Ellen
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A shimmering, vivid, heart-breaking look into Gay Berlin through the eyes of two orphan sisters who must make terrible choices as the world around them (and literally books) burns. Against the backdrop of 1930s Germany about to be swayed by one of the most evil men in history, the girls try their hardest to do the right thing, one a cigarette girl, the other a maid for a Nazi family. Anyone with a sister will feel desperately for Berni and Grete, continually torn apart but always trying to find ...more
Kathleen Flynn
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Two orphaned young sisters divided by circumstances beyond their control face hard times and harder moral choices in 1930s Germany, with a frame story in the American South of the early 1970s, where we learn what became of them. Packed with unexpected social details, at points it is heart-poundingly suspenseful, with some surprising twists.
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably the last person in my family to read I read I must admit I could hear Caroline's voice --
So proud of your work Caroline, reading this was like peeling the layers off an onion -- a wonderful onion, bursting with flavor and scent.
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very well written with captivating sentences and an exciting plot. A definite page-turner that is both interesting and entertaining.
Dianne Landry
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Once upon a time there were two girls living in a Catholic orphanage in Berlin. The girls Berni and Grete are sisters. Berni is a rebel and Grete a frightened little girl with hearing loss. A chance encounter in a store brings them to the attention of Sonje Schmidt who comes to take the girls away. Twelve year old Berni jumps at the chance but nine year old Grete is frightened and gets left behind. At Sonje's Berni meets Anita, a transvestite. The girls work end up working together selling cigar ...more
In this well-written historical fiction piece, Woods presents the lives of multiple characters successfully by focusing on how their actions affect each other. The novel flowed well despite the changing character focus. Berni’s transgender best friend was tastefully incorporated, adding value to the text. Chapters were of appropriate lengths, which allowed for pauses during the reading. This book would appeal to fans of historical fiction or women’s fiction.

Step into 1920’s Berlin to see protago
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I found this to be a heartbreaking story about two sisters who grew up as orphans in Germany between the two world wars.

The sisters are separated, and Berni, the older sister, is alarmed by the rise of the Nazis and is part of the decadent scene in Berlin. Grete becomes a maid for a German family and is drawn to the handsome young Klaus. Through Klaus, Grete is sucked into Nazi collaboration.

Anita, Berni's surrogate sister, is a fascinating and tragic character.

The story goes between pre-war G
Alfred J. Coscia
Stunning In Scope - A Must-Read

The author sets out with what begins as a compelling, yet simple story of 2 sisters in a 1930's German orphanage. Berni and Grete are both well-written from the outset and they cling to each other through the harshest of circumstances.
They leave the orphanage during the Nazi rise to power. The author does an outstanding job of painting the time. We see not just rampant poverty and unemployment, but also the avant-garde social ideals regarding homosexuality, gender
Two sisters start out in an orphanage in pre-Nazi Germany. The oldest one, Berni, is offered a job and housing by a Jewish woman, which she accepts, leaving her younger, more vulnerable sister behind. Berni befriends a transgendered woman named Anita, who is selected to have an experimental gender reassignment surgery. Meanwhile, the younger sister Grete grows up, and becomes a maid to a Nazi family, who becomes involved with the son who rises in the Nazi ranks. Can this sisterly bond withstand ...more
Jerry Peace
Jun 18, 2018 rated it liked it
I like this book, though I would have liked it more without the 1970's backtracking. The Weimar years, the early, seeminly innocuous Nazi years, still make fascinating reading. As I get older, I care less and less about denouement. The tension, the excitement is during Weimar; the other is just tired. But Ms. Woods has touched on the freedom, the excitement, the cultural creativity and revolution of Weimar. And her characters also warn us. "Could our country really be edging toward a cliff? Coul ...more
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fraulein M. is an excellent, easy-read piece of historical fiction about the lives of two orphaned sisters. The story is told back and forth between 1931-era and 1970 that involves the Nazi regime and a gentle touch on SS activities. The two sisters were separated and forced to take on different paths during their teenage. Secrets and suspense had grown over time between the sisters until 1970. I would recommend the book to any reader who loves well-written stories.

Caroline Woods is a talented a
Thanks to the author and Goodreads for a free copy of Fraulein M!

This is a gorgeously-written, compelling book about Nazi Germany and the complicated bonds of family. Rich with historical details, Caroline Woods has created an immersive setting. And she explores issues that I don't generally see in WWII fiction, such as the treatment of transgender people by the Nazis.

In the current political climate, between debates over trans rights and what's going on in the states, this book is even more poi
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an outstanding novel! Ms. Woods allows us to feel the main characters' emotions as they try to survive in pre-WWII Berlin. Her descriptions of the places, characters, lifestyles, and moods of that turbulent period are first-rate. Will the bonds of sisterhood be stronger than the social and political forces aligned against them? Read Fraulein M to find out!
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Miss Graham's Cold War Cookbook
  • Happy Accidents
  • On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes
  • The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt
  • Death By Sarcasm (Mary Cooper Mystery, #1)
  • Carry This Book
  • Missing Parts
  • News of Our Loved Ones
  • The Mist (Hidden Iceland #3)
  • The Spellman Files (The Spellmans, #1)
  • The Housewife Assassin's Killer 2-Book Set (The Housewife Assassin Series)
  • Monk's Hood (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #3)
  • Totlandia 2-Book Set
  • Pierre and Luce
  • Couples
  • Dragonfly
  • The Girl from Venice
  • Home for Erring and Outcast Girls
See similar books…

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
24 likes · 15 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »