This beautiful and captivating debut novel by David R. Gillham explores the relationship between good and evil in a war-torn and devastated Berlin in 1943. Most of the men who lived in Berlin are gone; dead, captured or fighting for their lives on the eastern front, it is a veritable city of women. Against this backdrop Gillham traces the life and challenges that Sigrid Schroder must face everyday, trying to survive, trying to preserve her humanity.
Ostensibly, Sigrid is an honorable soldier’s wife waiting out the war and looking after her troublesome mother-in-law while her husband, Kaspar, fights on the eastern front. The truth is so much more complex.
There is Sigrid’s lover, a Jewish black marketeer, deep in hiding, who uses her to smuggle people and supplies to his safe-house. What is she to do about Ericha — a rebellious teenager determined to draw her into the clandestine network working to help hide refugee Jews? Who exactly is Wolfram, the new neighbor down the hall, apparently a wounded war hero of impeccable pedigree, or is he? And what will be the consequences of Sigrid taking him to her bed? And if the intricacies of her underground plotting were not enough, what will happen when Kaspar, wounded and angry, returns to Berlin.
Sigrid cannot trust anyone but she is unable to prevent the widening circle of people who are aware of her subterfuge. It is a dangerous game she is playing and the lives of many, both the innocent and the complicit, are in her hands. This is a marvelous book evoking the memories of a time of almost unimaginable social upheaval. A time when great courage and bravery harnessed the means of betrayal and perfidy in the pursuit of redemption and justice.