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Extended Audio Sample City of Women Audiobook, by David R. Gillham Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,720 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: David R. Gillham Narrator: Suzanne Bertish Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2012 ISBN: 9781101579572
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It is 1943—the height of the Second World War—and Berlin has essentially become a city of women. Sigrid Schröder is, for all intents and purposes, the model German 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, all the while ignoring the horrific immoralities of the Nazi regime.

But behind this façade is an entirely different Sigrid, a woman who dreams of her former lover, now lost in the chaos of the war. Her lover is a Jew. But Sigrid is not the only one with secrets.

A high ranking SS officer and his family move down the hall, and Sigrid finds herself pulled into their orbit. A young woman doing her duty-year is out of excuses before Sigrid can even ask her any questions. And then there’s the blind man selling pencils on the corner, whose eyes follow Sigrid from behind the darkness of his goggles.

Soon, Sigrid is embroiled in a world she knew nothing about, and as her eyes open to the reality around her, the carefully constructed fortress of solitude she has built over the years begins to collapse. She must choose to act on what is right and what is wrong—and what falls somewhere in the shadows between the two.

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Quotes & Awards

  • City of Women is a big, brilliant, passionate book, a masterful evocation of Hitler’s Berlin in all its claustrophobia, duplicity, and fear. This is a thriller of searing intensity. . . .  I found it utterly compelling. Margaret Leroy, New York Times–bestselling author of The Soldier’s Wife
  • If you enjoy beautiful story telling, gripping suspense, and a distractingly romantic plot, this is the book for you! An exciting, page turning read! Kathleen Grissom, New York Times–bestselling author of The Kitchen House
  • Haunting and sensual, City of Women is a story of survival, of the unfathomable choices made and consequences suffered by those pushed to the brink. David Gillham has depicted a little-known aspect of the war with humanity and grace. Pam Jenoff, internationally bestselling author of The Things We Cherished
  • 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
  • David Gillham’s excellent new novel, City of Women, is built on one of the most extraordinary and faithful re-creations of a time in history—Berlin in World War II—that I’ve ever read. Alan Furst,  New York Times–bestselling author of Spies of the Balkans
  • “Gillham’s excellent new novel…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, New York Times bestselling author

  • “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

  • City of Women is a big, brilliant, passionate book, a masterful evocation of Hitler’s Berlin in all its claustrophobia, duplicity, and fear. This is a thriller of searing intensity…I found it utterly compelling.”

    Margaret Leroy, New York Times bestselling author

  • “The author’s impeccable research, realism, and tenderness are important. They make fiction seem like a viable tool for reminding ourselves of history as it truly happened—and not simply as it affects us.”

    USA Today

  • “In this stunning debut about the battle between good and evil, Gillham puts a fresh spin on the horrors of WWII by focusing on civilian German women to reveal that, amid the many adherents of the party line there were a handful of unsung heroes…Gillham’s transcendent prose…powerfully drawn characters, and the multilayered dilemmas make his first literary effort a powerful revelation.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • City of Women is extraordinary for what it does not do. It does not detail the events or imagined conversations of Hitler’s Reich, and it has not a single scene of life in the death camps. Instead, it chronicles—in detail so specific that it’s mesmerizing, but not so obviously researched as to be annoying—life for ‘ordinary’ Berliners at a time that was anything but. Through Heroine Sigrid Schröder, a German wife drawn into an affair with a Jew, Gillham shows us a world in which not all Germans are bad, not all Jews are victims, and loyalty is a fiction, the grimmest of fairy tales.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “Sometimes it seems as if novels about WWII are a dime a dozen. David Gillham’s City of Women, narrated by Suzanne Bertish, manages to find a fresh angle on the much-told story…Bertish narrates ably, making Sigrid come alive to the point that her large character arc seems quite believable.”

    AudioFile

  • “Gillham tells a gripping story centered around strong and remarkable characters…Scenes of wartime Berlin are powerfully described, and the lot of the ordinary citizen is artfully shown. Gillham’s romantic and suspenseful novel, commandingly written and believable, should be widely read.”

    Booklist

  • “Gillham’s novel—vividly cinematic yet subtle and full of moral ambiguity, not to mention riveting characters—is as impossible to put down as it is to forget.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Haunting and sensual, City of Women is a story of survival, of the unfathomable choices made and consequences suffered by those pushed to the brink. David Gillham has depicted a little-known aspect of the war with humanity and grace.” 

    Pam Jenoff, author of The Things We Cherished

  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month, August 2012
  • Selected for the August 2012 Indie Next List
  • One of the Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2012
  • An Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book, August 2012
  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cherry | 2/7/2014

    " I listened to this book and about half way through I skipped to the last disc and felt I lost nothing by doing so. Obviously, this book gave insight to German women in WWII, but the lead character was not one I wanted to continue. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Josilyn | 2/7/2014

    " A very chilling and haunting look into the Berlin of WWII and a gripping novel that asks some very provocative questions: how do you define what is right and what is wrong? Does breaking the law always mean that you're a criminal? This is a darker novel that what I'm used to, but one I'm glad I read anyway, because there aren't a lot of novels that explore Hitler's Germany. It goes to show that those who choose not to see and not to act can also be as criminal as the ones who commit atrocious crimes, and it brings to mind ways in which this mindset is still alive today. In what ways do we choose not to see because it's easier? Be prepared, because this novel will make you ask that question of yourself. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Allison Smith | 1/25/2014

    " Fabulous story... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debbie Tanner | 1/22/2014

    " I liked this historical fiction about a woman living in Berlin in 1943. It gives a fairly graphic depiction of what life was like then... the terror of bombing, the drudgery of rationing, the hypocrisy of people trying to find something to believe in. It was not a light read but very interesting and thought provoking. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meg | 1/16/2014

    " I love the title, it explains so much yet it so simple. WWII in Berlin. Very well written. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 mahlica | 1/15/2014

    " I enjoyed thr arc of the story and the journey she takes from house frau to somrthing do much more. Frankly I could have done with a little less of the details of the sexual exploits. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda Miller | 1/13/2014

    " This was an amazing book with the telling of a little known part of history that took place during WWII. The conditions with which the German people had to live under Hitler's regime were horrible. The fact that you as a German Citizen did not know if any little thing that could be considered a misstep against the German Authority could be reported to the proper authorities and you could be jailed or worse yet put up to the firing squad right away. This could be for as little as talking to someone just to ask a question of a stranger who was being watched as a tratior or someone who is late for work because of a slow moving train which was not their fault could get them arrested or killed. The fact that women who were wives of German Officers in the German Army would hide Jewish women, men and children right under their noses. They would move them from safe house to safe house and then put them on trains to a country that would be safe for them. They would have contacts in the government that would sympathize with them and get the proper documents for them. Many Jewish people changed their names to avoid detection. I had a father who was on the front lines during WWII as a medic and he does not talk about it much. He is slowly opening up since he is in a nursing home with other veterans of WWII and they discuss it together. I have seen pictures of the buildings that were left in Berlin where this takes place from pictures my father took. I could not imagine living every day and night with the air raid sirens going off and having to run to the basement to sit with all the other tenants until the siren told them they would be safe. Sometimes part of their building was hit by a bomb and if your apartment was left partially intact or not touched at all they stayed in the bombed building. This is when the sympathizer movement would move the Jewish people from one place to another because Berlin was in the dark to avoid detection by the US and English bombers so under the cover of dark they could be moved. This is a storyr that everyone should read because this is a story that is not taught in the schools. Amazing facts. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Martharago | 1/3/2014

    " I have mixed emotions about this book. At times I enjoyed the experience and found the plot twists interesting and unexpected, at other times the pace slowed to a slog and I could not have cared less, and still other times the characters played their roles like B movie types- not credible or truly moving, but there for the drama to play out in a predictable way. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 wade | 12/30/2013

    " This is a really great book in my opinion made all the more amazing as it was written by a first time novelist David R. Gillham. The book traces the story of a German woman in Berlin during World War 2. Her husband is fighting in the war and she must adapt to the savage nature of society in Nazi Germany. She eventually becomes active in attempting to save Jewish lives but there are many plot twists right up till the final page. The character are well developed and I really care what happens to them which many times I can't say in books I read. This book would adapt very well into a major motion picture. I can not wait to see what Mr. Gillham writes next. The book is dark but so is Germany during this period. I also think the book would be a great choice for book clubs. The characters make many interesting and thought provoking choices so there is plenty of grist for the discussion mill. Do yourself a favor and read this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Penny | 12/28/2013

    " Absolutely fantastic! You absolutely must treat yourself to the Audio Book. A delicious delight for your listening pleasure. Full review on its way. Thanks to Audiobook JukeBox and Penguin Audio for the privilege and pleasure. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lucia | 12/19/2013

    " I give this book five stars because it trully was a complete story. I Thought it was well written, and I didn't feel that anything was left out or left undone. I liked it a lot. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Colleen | 12/10/2013

    " I really enjoy historical fiction of World War II. This book was unique in that it was set in Berlin which has become a city of women. I gained a new perspective on the war through the character of Sigrid. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda Kreindler | 9/19/2013

    " A good story with some unresolved and confusing issues. Would make a good movie. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anita Williams | 9/4/2013

    " Loved this haunting, compelling book! It read like a movie script and reminded me of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. What a terrible time in history and author takes you there with the women of Berlin. Read this January 2013. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mischelle | 8/18/2013

    " Good story, great narration. Not a feel good book and not really about war...except for what had to happen while the men were away. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jena | 7/29/2013

    " A very satisfying novel. Great characters, great setting, great plot. Definitely recommended. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Caty | 6/28/2013

    " A lot to think about here.....what would you do? This is both a thriller and moral story. Set in Berlin as Germany is falling apart and losing the war. Sigrid lives with her bitter mother-in-law and works as a typist. The cinema is her refuge and there the story begins. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ellen Mandly | 5/1/2013

    " wow, these are some lusty, ballsie German women. A good read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julia | 4/28/2013

    " Set in Berlin during World War II. An intense story that involves hiding Jews (of course). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathleen Moyer | 9/11/2012

    " Good story, but the main character was not very appealing or sympathetic. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kath | 8/4/2012

    " I started this book expecting it to be good but it was confusing and hard to follow. Finally I just got bored and moved on to another book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Adrienne | 7/29/2012

    " This book should be made into a movie. It is on a par with Casablanca! "

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About the Author

David R. Gillham studied screenwriting at the University of Southern California before transitioning into fiction. After moving to New York City, he spent more than a decade in the book business. He lives with his family in Massachusetts.

About the Narrator

Suzanne Bertish is an English actor known for her roles in the films The 13th Warrior, The Hunger, and The Upside of Anger. Her Broadway credits include Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Wit, and The Moliére Comedies, for which she received a Tony Award nomination.