Sigrid appears to be an ordinary Berlin housewife at the height of World War II stoically enduring air raids, food shortages and the absence of her husband at the Russian front as she slogs to and from her job.
But the heroine of “City of Women” by David Gillham, has secrets. Consumed by thoughts of her Jewish lover, a chance meeting with a girl in a movie theater leads to her gradually being caught up in a network of people helping Jews flee to safety as she navigates between what is safe and what is right.
Gillham, a debut novelist with a passion for history, said the impetus for his book came from asking what he – or anybody – might have done in a similar time and situation.
“It’s very easy to have a moral position when your life is not threatened. I wanted to put that pressure on and explore how people reacted to it,” he said in a telephone interview.
“But it’s more of a personal reaction on her part than a moral decision, and that’s one thing I wanted to explore too – how people make these moral decisions.”
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