David R. Gillham’s City of Women, tells the story of Sigrid Schroder’s life in Berlin during World War II. The Germans use propaganda to prove they are winning the war, but everything that Gillham shows us in Sigrid’s world is not representative of wartime success. The city is under bombardment from the British on almost every clear night. Spending time in the basement with her fellow residents of her apartment building, we meet a diverse population in age, wealth, and appreciation for the Nazi party.
Gillham shows a world where there should not be trust amongst anybody and what can be done when people are forced to trust each other. Whether it be shared secrets or for survival, Sigrid is thrown in with Nazi sympathizers, Jews in hiding, resistance organizers, Jews working with the Germans, and soldiers willing to die for others right to an existence.
This was a moving story told from an unusual perspective during World War II. Sigrid’s loneliness pushes her into situations she would never have encountered otherwise. The touch and friendship of another human being becomes essential to Sigrid’s survival.
Overall, the sadness of the characters and situations are beautifully told and still allow the reader a glimmer of hope at the end.
Read August 2013