City of Women by David R. Gillham
G.P. Putnam’s Sons – August 7, 2012
385 pages - Adult, historical fiction
Source: Publisher via First Flights the Penguin Debut Author ProgramRead what this book is about here. I received a copy of this print galley, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. I received this ARC as a part of the Penguin Debut Authors Program, and I am glad for the opportunity. I f I was to be honest, and you all know that I will be, I would have to say that this is not a book that I would have picked up on my own. The cover is beautiful, but it takes place in 1943 Berlin. Again, historical novels are not really my specialty; a lot of readers of historical fiction enjoy the books for their accuracy. That is not something I can vouch for, but I keep coming across historical fiction that I enjoy so maybe I shouldn’t write it off altogether. In this case, it would have been me that would be missing out.
City of Women was such a beautiful piece of work. I was forced to read at a slower pace, but I was able to truly get lost in the 1943 Berlin. I was able to see the way things were as if I was a fly on the wall. This made it easier to feel and vicariously experience the changes that occurred in Frau Schroder. All of the characters were well-developed and came alive. There were moments when it felt more like watching and old black and white movie instead of reading a book. Everyone had a part to play, but this was Frau Schroder’s story.
I am not sure what I expected from Frau Schroder, but I did assume that at the first sign of trouble she would run if she got involved in the first place. It takes a certain kind of person to get involved, and I honestly didn’t think she had it in her. As the story unfolds, the line between truth and lie gets blurred. Those who would most likely betray stay as honest and loyal as they said that they would. The ones who you expected to remain loyal are the ones who betray you. In the end, it was Frau Schroder who steps up and that surprised me.
This story is not just about hiding Jews. It is the story about love and betrayal in both obvious and mundane ways. It is the story about a woman who has to learn to step out of convention to find the strength she never knew she had.Recommendation: This is a story definitely worth reading. If you find it a bit slower than your normal reads, keep going you will find beauty here.
4 Stars ****
What's Next? I am honored to be part of the First Flights program. The Next book to be reviewed for this program is A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins