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The Cigarette Girl Kindle Edition
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I found the writing in this book highly evocative right from the start. Berlin with hyperinflation and life in the Catholic orphanage is well painted. If anything the images of their later lives in Berlin are even more vivid. Berni is a "cigarette girl" in a bar - not at all respectable - while Grete is a servant. I found myself completely caught up in their lives.
The characters in this story are rich. They feel like real people in a real setting and they get to you. Not the most major character but important, Anita's story seemed particularly powerful and poignant at times as an example. She is actually a man who dresses as a woman. Perfectly acceptable (in the right places at least) at the start of this story. Very unacceptable and dangerous as time goes by.
By the time the tale moves fully to the USA I really did find it very hard indeed to put this down. The twists become dizzying here at times and the rollercoaster of the sisters lives become even more powerfully etched. Powerfully moving at times this is a hard hitting book in places tackling the rise of Nazism and its consequences head on. This is not a book I expect to forget for some time to come and one I really enjoyed reading. Quite definitely a 4.5/5.
Note - I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review
The opening section of Caroline Woods novel is based in South Carolina in 1970 and Janeen Moore and her mother Anita are mourning the death of her father. When a letter arrives for her mother, Janeen reads it and discovers that it is written in German (where her mother was born). Janeen responds to the letter pretending to be her mother. Her mother’s story is then revealed.
It began in Berlin in 1931 when two sisters Berni and Grete are taken to an orphanage. As the story unfolds we are introduced to the different aspects of life that are affected by Hitler’s rise to power and the impact that has on the German population. This is unlike any other book I have read about this period. Not only is it beautifully written, but it is powerful and scarily realistic. As we know these events did happen and Woods’ plot and structure have the main protagonists leading their lives against this background.
How could you not worry about poor Grete; how can you fail to admire Berni’s loyalty; Anita’s vulnerability. I never quite knew where the story was headed but always felt divided loyalty, is Grete more deserving; is Berni the most admirable; who is the bravest?
This is a very clever, well-balanced book that explores relationships and character with the underbelly of Berlin in 1930 as the backdrop.
I loved it.
Thank you to NetGalley who supplied this book via Kindle in return for an honest review.
The book tells the story of two German sisters in Berlin starting in 1931, continuing through the second world war and into present day, We can see how the war affects their lives in different ways. I really enjoyed it and was kept guessing how it would pan out.
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