My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Around the World: 37 of 52 (Germany)
I received an eARC of this from the publisher as part of the Penguin First Flights program. I'm happy to be done with it so I can participate in the live author chat this coming week!
At first, I wasn't certain I'd enjoy the book. I've stayed away from most wartime literature, particularly WW2, particularly anything having to do with the Holocaust. This is simply because I was inundated with this kind of lit when I was younger, and while I think it is important, sometimes authors seem to use the worst historical periods as an easy way to get an emotional response from the reader.
That wasn't the case here. People aren't all good or all bad, and I appreciated the sense of reality that the blurry lines and flawed characters brought to the novel.
City of Women is set in Berlin, where the only men around are either 'foreigners' or 'still in short-pants.' Sigrid, the main character, is living with her mother-in-law, who is a Party member, since her husband is fighting on the eastern front. The author does a good job of describing this very bleak setting, where women are making do with very little while being asked to give up their warm clothing.
Sigrid ends up falling in with a woman who is helping Jewish people escape the country, as well as other groups who are in trouble - homosexuals, deserters, etc. Even this is a presented as a very complex issue, with varying reasons for involvement and danger in every direction, including the extra layer of Jewish people who are in cahoots with the Gestapo.
There is somewhat awkward sex in this book, including a lot going on in movie theaters, but it all makes sense when one scene at the beginning comes back around in an unexpected way.