City of Women – by David R. Gillham – independent book review – Historical Fiction (World War II)
Attention, ALL history buffs! Here is your a chance to step into one of humanity’s darkest places — Berlin in 1943. Awarded five stars on Goodreads. David R. Gillham immerses you in a complex and multi-faceted world of disinformation and struggle. While the government’s propaganda insists the war is nearly won, illegal wireless transmissions from Britain broadcast a different story. THAT news is of the massive defeat in Stalingrad and rapidly advancing Russian armies. For the German woman living in Berlin– left behind by husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons fighting on the front-lines — each day is an exercise in improvising survival. Who can you trust when family members turn each other in? When neighbors are reporting neighbors. When any ONE decision can mean the difference between life or death. In this mesmerizing page-turner of a novel, Gillham shows how people who believe they are making simple daily decisions also wind up defining society’s very fabric of morality, especially during times of war. The questions the author raises are profound! When witnessing injustice, should one look away or speak out? When an unknown girl begs for help, do you provide it or protect yourself and your family? Is one life worth more than another? And against a backdrop of counterfeit documents, increasing shortages, and overt genocide — how far will or should one person go to save just one life — especially if it’s your own?As someone who is deeply interested in this historical period, and has read many novels about Nazi Germany — this one was the first to make me feel what it was like to live in Berlin during the war. It is stunningly realistic. With violence that permeates all aspects of life, even sex. But I consider it a must read for anyone who wants a glimpse into the horror of living during a war. And if you’re interested, Gillham has a new book, Annelies, coming out in January, 2019, a novel that imagines what might have happened if Anne Frank had not died in 1945 in a concentration camp.