Fräulein M. is a work of historical fiction about the end of the Weimar Republic as seen through the eyes of women—both cis- and transgender—whose lives are irrevocably changed when Hitler comes to power. Hailed as "a sheer pleasure to read" by National Book Award winner Ha Jin, this debut novel is an ideal choice for book clubs.
Fraülein M. will be released in the UK as The Cigarette Girl (HQ/HarperCollins UK) on February 23, 2017; it is available for pre-order or, for book reviewers, from NetGalley.
BERLIN, 1931: Sisters raised in a Catholic orphanage, Berni and Grete Metzger are each other's whole world. That is, until life propels them to opposite sides of seedy, splendid, and violent Weimar Berlin. Berni becomes a cigarette girl, a denizen of the cabaret scene alongside her transgender best friend, who is considering a risky gender reassignment surgery. Meanwhile Grete is hired as a maid to a Nazi family, and begins to form a complicated bond with their son. As Germany barrels toward the Third Reich, World War II, and ruin, one of the sisters must make a devastating choice.
SOUTH CAROLINA, 1970: With the recent death of her father, Janeen Moore yearns to know more about her family history, especially the closely guarded story of her mother's youth in Germany. One day she intercepts a letter intended for her mother: a confession written by a German woman, a plea for forgiveness. What role does Janeen's mother play in this story, and why does she seem so distressed by recent news that a former SS officer has resurfaced in America?
Advance praise for Fräulein M.:
"Debut novelist Woods is a skilled constructor of scenes that propel readers forward and lay bare the difficulties of living in complicated times ... Readers will be moved by the Metzger sisters."
"Caroline Woods shows tremendous skill in portraying these characters. It is a big story ingeniously conceived and intimately told, full of feeling and revealing details. Fräulein M. is a sheer pleasure to read."
—Ha Jin, National Book Award and PEN/Faulkner award winning author of Waiting and War Trash
"This evocative tale, finely told, reminds us of the fragility of family bonds and the compromises made in the name of survival. Readers will be moved by the conflicts in ideology, loyalty, and trust that Woods brings to life in these pages."
—Daphne Kalotay, national and international bestselling author of Russian Winter and Sight Reading
"Caroline Woods creates a moving and vivid portrait of two orphaned sisters in 1930s Berlin. Utterly transporting."
—Patricia Park, author of Re Jane