Excerpt from A Woman In Berlin by   Anonymous, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

A Woman In Berlin

By   Anonymous

A Woman In Berlin
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Aug 2005,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: Jul 2006,
    288 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Friday, April 20, 1945, 4:00 P.M.

It's true: the war is rolling toward Berlin.  What was yesterday a distant rumble has now become a constant roar.  We breathe the din; our ears are deafened to all but the heaviest guns.  We've long given up trying to figure out where they are positioned.  We are ringed in by barrels, and the circle is growing smaller by the hour.

Now and then whole hours pass in eerie silence.  Then all of a sudden you remember that it's spring.  Clouds of lilac perfume drift over from untended gardens and waft through the charred ruins of apartment houses.  Outside the cinema, the acacia stump is foaming over with green.  The gardeners must have snatched a few minutes between sirens to dig at their allotment plots, because there's freshly turned earth around the garden sheds up and down Berlinerstrasse.  Only the birds seem suspicious of this particular April: there's not a single sparrow nesting in the gutters of our roof.

A little before three o'clock the newspaper wagon drove up to the kiosk. Two dozen people were already waiting for the deliveryman, who immediately vanished in a flurry of hands and coins. Gerda, the concierge's daughter, managed to grab a few "evening editions" and let me have one.  It's not a real paper anymore, just a kind of news sheet printed on two sides and damp on both. The first thing I read as I went on my way was the Wehrmacht report. New place-names: Müncheberg, Seelow, Buchholz - they sound awfully close, like from somewhere in the Brandenburg Mark. I barely glanced at the news from the western front.  What does it matter to us now? Our fate is rolling in from the east and it will transform the entire climate, like another Ice Age. People ask why, tormenting themselves with pointless questions. But I just want to focus on today, the task at hand.

Little groups milling around the kiosk, people with pasty faces, murmuring.

"Impossible, who would have thought it would come to this?"

"There's not one of us here didn't have at least a shred of hope."

"Nothing the likes of us can do about it."

The talk turns to western Germany: "They've got it good. For them it's over and done with." No one uses the word Russians anymore.  It refuses to pass our lips.

Back in the attic apartment. I can't really call it a home; I no longer have a home. Not that the furnished room I was bombed out of was really mine either. All the same, I'd filled it with six years of my life. With my books and pictures and the hundreds of things you accumulate along the way. My starfish from that last peacetime summer on Norderney. The kilim Gerd brought me from Persia. My dented alarm clock. Photos, old letters, my zither, coins from twelve different countries, a piece of knitting that I'd started. All the souvenirs, the old skins and shells-the residue and warm debris of lived-in years. 

Now that it's gone and all I have is a small suitcase with a handful of clothes, I feel naked, weightless. Since I own nothing, I can lay claim to everything - this unfamiliar apartment, for instance. Well, it's not entirely unfamiliar. The owner is a former colleague, and I was a frequent guest before he was called up. In keeping with the times, we used to barter with each other: his canned meat from Denmark for my French cognac, my French soap for the stockings he had from Prague. After I was bombed out I managed to get hold of him to tell him the news, and he said I could move in here. Last I heard he was in Vienna with a Wehrmacht censorship unit. Where he still is now...? Not that attic apartments are much in demand these days. What's more, the roof leaks as many of the tiles have been shattered or blown away.

Excerpted from A Woman In Berlin by Anonymous. Copyright © 2006. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company, Incorporated. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...
  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...
  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  163The City:
    Dean Koontz

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.