Monday, December 21, 2015

City of Women - David R Gillham

This novel was the suggestion for one of my reading groups for December.  It is a thriller that tells the story of the mostly female population left in Berlin at the end of WWII and how they struggled to survive.

There is a lot of detail on the city of Berlin, impressing me with the research that the author apparently did to be authentic to the time.  It became tedious as the book went on, however.

There was not a character in this book that I really liked.  The main character, Sigrid, is a middle aged woman married to a German soldier with a nasty mother-in-law and suspicious neighbors.  Everyone is reporting and turning on each other.  Sigrid befriends a young woman in her apartment building who turns out is assisting with smuggling Jews out of the country and enlists Sigrid in the effort.  Sigrid is taken in, partly due to her passionate affair she'd had with a Jewish man she meets in a theatre.

Our group had a long discussion on the effects of war and the mentality of a population that would allow the annihilation of a people.  It was instructive to discuss how the economics of Germany after WWI paved the way for the hatred and fear of Hitler's regime. I was impressed with the need to understand history in the long term perspective.  Most of all, I found myself asking, "What would I have done?"  Would I have been brave? Would I have tried to stay uninvolved?  Would I have resisted?

Published: 2012  Read: December 2015  Genre: Historical fiction

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