City of Women

City of Women - David R. Gillham, Suzanne Bertish

This book is perfect for those readers who want an intelligent thought-provoking book filled with action, form the first page to the last. It is filled with twists and turns and dead ends. What you think you understand, well you probably don't. You will by the end. If you love the ride of such an adventure I highly recommend this book.

The central theme, other than simply figuring out what was going on, is: what role would YOU have played if you were a German during WW2? Would YOU have the guts to work in the Resistance? That is not an easy question. Who do you sacrifice? Don't think valor is loaded all on one side. Whom do you hurt?

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Suzanne Bertish. Her reading was forceful and given the tempo and style of the book this is perfect. I was a bit annoyed as she insisted on pronouncing the words Patent Office ad "pay-tent office".

So why only three stars? I found annoying incongruities that made no sense to me: a man's belt is not large enough tie up a suitcase with. I know this is petty, but why write that? Secondly, the main characters are all aberrant each in their own way. The author has collected quite a group. I cannot name one "ordinary person" among any of the central characters. There is a pronounced fixation on strange sexual behavior. Supposedly all the men are gone from Berlin but one woman still has three lovers. Where does she get all her energy? Food is rationed. The cinema antics aren't all that believable, but titillating for sure. What occurs in the cinema could happen but what are the chances everything would play out in this manner? To put it simply, the characters are a bit hard to believe in, maybe not one at a time, but as a group.

Another major complaint I have is that there is little to explain why the Germans who were silent, who obediently did as they were told, acted as they did. True, if you don't, you lose your job. That IS in the book, but there is no history, no discussion of the fact that after WW1, inflation was rampant in Germany, there were no jobs and that the common man just wanted some food and law and order and JOBS. So although I too despised those who did as they were told and "followed the rules", as all good Germans should do, I would have liked more depth, something that illustrated why these people behaved as they did. That none of this is pointed out makes them look worse than they really were, and I don't like that.

This book is an exciting mystery story. One thing follows another, so you have to hold on tight. Characters surprise you. There is sex, but heck any adult can read this. And you can stop and think what would YOU have done!

May I recommend too other books about German life during the war?

A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary|30851|A Woman in Berlin Eight Weeks in the Conquered City A Diary by Anonyma (Marta Hillers) and
On Hitler's Mountain: Overcoming the Legacy of a Nazi Childhood by Irmgard A. Hunt.