Reading guide for City of Women by David R. Gillham

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

City of Women

A Novel

by David R. Gillham

City of Women
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2012, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2013, 448 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. Why do you think Sigrid helps Ericha at the cinema in the opening of the book? If you had been in Sigrid’s situation, would you have helped Ericha? Would you have become as involved as Sigrid does? With the advantage of hindsight, our perspective is no doubt skewed; since we know the truth behind what was happening in Nazi Germany, how do our answers compare with Sigrid’s bold decisions?

  2. As the story progresses, Sigrid grows more and more involved and takes more and more risks. How does her reasoning for doing so later differ from the reasoning behind her first risky decision in the cinema? What is her motivation for making these increasingly dangerous choices? Desire? Excitement? Conscience?

  3. Discuss the theme of betrayal in City of Women. Many of the characters are guilty of double–crossing and treachery. In what ways do they deceive one another? What about Egon? Is his betrayal portrayed differently from that of others, such as Renate or Ericha?

  4. Sigrid’s relationships are numerous and varied—with her mother–in–law, her neighbors, her coworkers, her husband, her lovers, the so–called U–boats. How does each of them define who Sigrid is? How is she reflected in the various relationships? How have these bonds been altered by the extraordinary circumstances of war?

  5. Were you surprised by the depiction of Berlin during World War II? Before reading the novel, had you thought about what life was like on the German home front as the tide turned and defeat loomed on the horizon?

  6. Countless times throughout the novel, characters risk their lives to help others—to protect the value of human life, spurred on by their own integrity. Conversely, there is the scene on the bus where no one does anything as a Jewish woman is arrested and brutalized. Which do you think is typical of human behavior? Are people more inclined to avert their eyes and try to stay out of trouble, or risk their own safety and get involved? Why?

  7. If one simply observes the facts at surface value, Sigrid would probably not be considered a righteously moral individual. Nonetheless, she manages to be a very sympathetic character. How does the author accomplish this?

  8. Sigrid’s coworker Renate seems to have a sensibility similar to hers. Yet when Renate discovers that Sigrid’s lover may be Jewish, her response shocks Sigrid. Was it naive of Sigrid to expect anything different? Were you surprised by how deep–seated Renate’s anti–Semitism was?

  9. Often in the novel, people are not actually who they appear to be. Consider Frau Obersturmführer Junger, the SS officer’s pregnant wife who moves in down the hall: were you shocked to find out her secret? Do you feel that everyone in the book is hiding something?

  10. How would you characterize Sigrid’s relationship with Ericha Kohl? Antagonistic? Trusting? Maternal? What do you think Sigrid gets from her relationship with Ericha? What does Ericha get from Sigrid?

  11. What did you think about Kaspar? Egon? Wolfram? All are on the wrong side of history. Did you find any of them appealing? Are they very different from one another?

  12. At one point Sigrid flirts with the idea of turning in Anna Weiss and her two daughters so that she can have Egon to herself. Do you feel she seriously considers this?

  13. How important is amorous passion in the novel? Is that the driving force that motivates Sigrid? Is it emblematic of something else?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Berkley Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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!

Beyond the Book:
  The Bombing of Berlin

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Holding Up the Universe
    Holding Up the Universe
    by Jennifer Niven
    Jennifer Niven's spectacular Holding Up the Universe has everything that I love about Young ...
  • Book Jacket: Coffin Road
    Coffin Road
    by Peter May
    From its richly atmospheric opening to its dramatic conclusion, Peter May's Coffin Road is a ...
  • Book Jacket: The Guineveres
    The Guineveres
    by Sarah Domet
    It's a human need to know one's own identity, to belong to someone, to yearn for a place ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win All the Gallant Men

All The Gallant Men

The first memoir by a USS Arizona survivor, 75 years after Pearl Harbor.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

K Y Eyes P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.