City of Women is a deeply wrenching story set in Berlin during World War II. Most of the men have been shipped off to fight on one of the fronts, including the husband of Sigrid Schroder. She tries to maintain a normal life going to work at the patent office and coming home to a meager existence in an apartment with her impossible mother-in-law. Sigrid, as many other Germans, tries to ignore the atrocities that are happening all around her. She hides her involvement with a Jewish lover and then becomes friends with and helps a young woman who is hiding a group of desperate people.
This is not an easy book to read. Sigrid is not a likeable character even with her involvement against Hitler’s movement. The setting of Berlin during bombing raids is very bleak and disturbing. It is a very interesting perspective of war as we are taken inside the minds of people caught up in an ugly, desperate situation. The theme captures you as it plays out during a very real moment in history.