Review – Audiobook: City of Women by David R. Gillham
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publish Date: August 7, 2012
Format: Audio, 13 hours | 10 minutes
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate
Rating: 4½ of 5
Wartime Berlin, 1943. Sigrid Schröder’s husband is away from home, a soldier in the war. On the surface her life appears to be routine. She goes to work, takes in an occasional movie for entertainment and comes home each night to the apartment she shares with her mother-in-law. But the reality is much different. Segrid has secrets. Everyone has secrets.
Segrid helps Ericha, a young woman who she has seen in her apartment building, avoid being picked up by the German authorities. She later discovers that Ericha is involved in an underground group which provides assistance to those being sought by the government, mostly Jewish families needing relocation. Soon Segrid herself becomes involved in the frightening world of the underground resistance, possibly risking her own life.
This is not a story about war or soldiers, but instead is about the people left behind and the choices they make. We experience what it was like for the German citizens that didn’t agree with the actions of their government and how the underground worked to help the oppressed. Do they turn their heads, mind their own business and survive as best they can, or do they take a stand against what they feel is wrong.
Segrid had some tough choices to make. She was not perfect, she had taken a lover while her husband was away, a Jewish lover who was now missing. Should she join Ericha and help the underground, or should she be a good party-member like her mother-in-law and her soldier husband? Food is becoming scarce, bombings of the city are routine and most people live in constant fear of their government and for their lives. People do what they must to survive. Now Segrid must make some difficult decisions and determine who she can trust.
The audio was narrated by Suzanne Bertish, a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Her tone and pacing was good fit for subject, and at 13 hours the audio was just the right length.
This was not an easy book to read but the story was compelling and held my interest in spite of the often dark subject matter, desperation and sadness of the tale. Readers/listeners will enjoy this book for it’s richness of detail and excellent character development. World War II historical fiction fans will definitely want to add this one to their collection.
Source: Review copy.
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