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City of Women by David Gillham

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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

Sexy suspense in World War II Berlin. An emotional thriller of some note. Excellent. Apart from its quality writing and stunning story the beauty of this book is in the characters, Sigrid in particular. She is a very ordinary woman, not a heroine, and has done nothing noteworthy in her life. Circumstances make her extra-ordinary. This book asks the question: how far would people go in the face of extreme danger? What would they be prepared to sacrifice? Set in 1944 with food and fuel shortages this could so easily be London except here the bombed civilians have the persecution of Jews to contend with and the fear of being accused of treason. It is an amazing book, made more so by being a first novel.

If you like David Gillham you might also like to read books by Jane Thynne, Vanora Bennett and Paula McLain.


City of Women by David Gillham

In the very darkest hour, who do you trust, who do you love, and who can be saved?

It is 1943 - the height of the Second World War. With the men taken by the army, Berlin has become a city of women. And while her husband fights on the Eastern Front, Sigrid Schröder is, for all intents and purposes, the model soldier's wife: she goes to work every day, does as much with her rations as she can, and dutifully cares for her meddling mother-in-law.

But behind this façade is an entirely different Sigrid, a woman who dreams of her former Jewish lover, who is now lost in the chaos of the war.

Sigrid's tedious existence is turned upside-down when she finds herself hiding a mother and her two young daughters: could they be her lover's family? Now she must make terrifying choices that could cost her everything.


'Gillham's Berlin is a terrified city, where nobody dare speak the truth and the smallest decision can cost you your life. A terrifically tense first novel' The Times

'Gillham evokes beautiful and dark cinematic imagery, which lifts the story off the page' Big Issue

'David Gillham's excellent new novel, City of Women, is built on one of the most extraordinary and faithful recreations of a time in history - Berlin in World War II - that I've ever read.' -- Alan Furst

'In this moving and masterful debut, David Gillham brings war-torn Berlin to life and reveals the extraordinary mettle of women tested to their limits and beyond. Powerful and piercingly real. You won't soon forget these characters.' -- Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife

'[A] stunning debut ... Gillham puts a fresh spin on the horrors of WWII' Publishers Weekly

'Scene after scene burns into the reader's memory ... I can already imagine the film' Book Oxygen

'A page-turner ... City of Women challenges preconceptions' We Love This Book

'Vividly cinematic yet subtle and full of moral ambiguity ... riveting characters - is as impossible to put down as it is to forget' Kirkus

About the Author

David Gillham trained as a writer at the University of Southern California. After relocating to New York, he worked in the book industry, and now lives with his family in Western Massachusetts. City of Women is his first novel.

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Book Info

Publication date

5th September 2013


David Gillham

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Penguin Books Ltd


400 pages


Historical Fiction
Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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