theladylovesbooks star rating City of Women by David R. Gillham

City of Women

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This gorgeous book by David Gillham rips through the life of Berlin-based Sigrid Schröder in 1943.  With her husband away at war, Sigrid remains cooped up in her mother-in-law’s miserable company, dreaming guiltily of another life while her husband sacrifices his. By day Sigrid works in a typing pool with other diligent German women.  At night she escapes to the cinema or into the arms of her Jewish lover, Egon.  

Previously a pure by-the-book kind of girl, Sigrid’s conscience is crippling her.  When mysterious young Ericha moves into her building Sigrid finds herself tempted by Berlin’s underground movement.  Before long Sigrid is tied up with smuggling contraband and hiding people from the Gestapo — all the while maintaining the illusion of an obedient soldier’s wife under her mother-in-law’s watchful gaze.

When Egon’s personal history threatens to collide with Sigrid’s latest illegal activities she finds herself questioning everything she thought she knew about herself, her society and her country.

Gillham’s novel cleverly covers big, big issues by pushing them right into Sigrid’s daily life.  Reading we follow as an ordinary woman finds herself adapting in extraordinary circumstances.  It’s a gripping read and fair play to Gillham for writing some great woman-centred love scenes.  Always impressive from a male author!

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