The Porcelain Maker

A Novel

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Pub Date 07 Nov 2023 | Archive Date 21 Nov 2023

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An epic story of love, betrayal, and art that spans decades, through the horrors of World War II to 21st century America, inspired by an actual porcelain factory in Dachau.

Two lovers caught at the crossroads of history.
A daughter’s search for the truth.

Germany, 1929. At a festive gathering of young bohemians in Weimar, two young artists, Max, a skilled Jewish architect, and Bettina, a celebrated avant-garde painter, are drawn to each other and begin a whirlwind romance. Their respective talents transport them to the dazzling lights of Berlin, but this bright beginning is quickly dimmed by the rising threat of Nazism. Max is arrested and sent to the concentration camp at Dachau where only his talent at making exquisite porcelain figures stands between him and seemingly certain death. Desperate to save her lover, Bettina risks everything to rescue him and escape Germany.

America, 1993. Clara, Bettina’s daughter, embarks on a journey to trace her roots and determine the identity of her father, a secret her mother has kept from her for reasons she’s never understood. Clara’s quest to piece together the puzzle of her origins transports us back in time to the darkness of Nazi Germany, where life is lived on a razor’s edge and deception and death lurk around every corner. Survival depends on strength, loyalty, and knowing true friend from hidden foe. And as Clara digs further, she begins to question why her mother was so determined to leave the truth of her harrowing past behind...

The Porcelain Maker is a powerful novel of enduring love and courage in the face of appalling brutality as a daughter seeks to unlock the mystery of her past.

An epic story of love, betrayal, and art that spans decades, through the horrors of World War II to 21st century America, inspired by an actual porcelain factory in Dachau.

Two lovers caught at the...

Advance Praise

"Once I started reading The Porcelain Maker, I didn't want to stop...Freethy is brilliant as she weaves two time periods effortlessly into a page-turning journey to uncover a past of heroism, betrayal, love, and loss." —Heather Morris, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Three Sisters

"In her exquisitely crafted and poignant debut, Sarah Freethy brings readers an unforgettable tale of love and loss.... Phenomenal." —Marie Benedict, New York Times bestselling author of The Mitford Affair

"A heartbreaking story of beauty in the midst of brutality." —Lauren Willig, New York Times bestselling author of Band of Sisters

"A standout novel of heartbreak, survival and hope in time of war. Gripping, beautifully written, The Porcelain Maker is destined to be a huge bestseller." —Rachel Hore, bestselling author of One Moonlit Night and A Beautiful Spy.

"Once I started reading The Porcelain Maker, I didn't want to stop...Freethy is brilliant as she weaves two time periods effortlessly into a page-turning journey to uncover a past of heroism...

Available Editions

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ISBN 9781250289346
PRICE $29.00 (USD)

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Average rating from 48 members

Featured Reviews

This debut author is a new voice in the WWII historical fiction genre and she doesn’t disappoint. The story is told in two time frames, 1990s and 1940s. Clara, the daughter of famous artist Bettina has set out to find out who her father is. Bettina has recently died and never told Clara the secret of her father. As we go back in time, we learn about her mother’s life and those of the people she knows. There are many tragedies that lead Bettina and the father of her baby to be apart, including the Holocaust. Bettina finds herself in her own type of prison when she marries a Nazi in order to keep her secret. Can she escape her prison and help the man she loves escape his so they can live as a family? As Clara learns about the story of her father, it allows her to know her mother better and why she did things she did.
Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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This is an arc in exchange for an honest review!
This novel weaves us through different timelines starting with a young woman named Clara that arrives at an auction in Cincinnati in the 90’s hoping to discover who the identity of her father is and to understand more about her mother’s past.
We get to see a glimpse of Max and Bettina’s past during the times of World War II.
Clara’s mother is Bettina, and she’s hoping to find out more about her mother through the artistic pieces that had ended up in the auction.
I love a good historical fiction book, but this book is so much more than that. I had read the novel in one sitting, and it’s a story that really lingers in your mind and makes you think about life and the universe.
I highly recommend the novel to anyone that’s looking to immerse themselves fully into the plot.

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In 1929, Max and Bettina meet in Berlin and fall in love. The problem? Max is Jewish and Bettina is not. As the Nazis slowly begin to take over Germany, Max and Bettina's love (and art) grows more mature. When Max is arrested and taken to Dachau, Bettina does whatever she can to keep their child safe from harm and to try to find out what has happened to Max. What she does discover leads her to create some beautiful works of art and takes her back, for only a short time, to Max.

In 1993, Clara, Max and Bettina's daughter continues a search for the father she never knew and a mother who felt very distant. She comes into possession of some porcelain figurines and slowly starts to trace her parents lives in Nazi Germany through those figurines. What she learns is that her parents bravery and pain lead to the creation of beautiful art and to her very life. She finds herself speaking to the last living person who knew, and care for, her parents, and she learns to what extent love will lead a person to do incredibly brave acts to protect and shield their loved ones.

One of the most powerfully interesting novels of the Holocaust I've read.

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Both historical and romantic, a story woven between the past and present. Clara looking for information on father, following the trail of clues in the present. The past being the story of her parents romance. The trials and tribulations that was their reality during such a horrible time of war.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGallery for the chance to read this captivating story.

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I don’t consider myself a romance reader, but ( definitely relate to historical fiction. This book, however brings the two together in a way that is poignant and touching. How sweet love is and how hard and unfair life can be at times. But I love the story and how Clara unwraps the history of her own beginning.

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This is a captivating, heartfelt story that the author expertly weaves from the beginning in 1925 until where the story concludes in the 1990s.

Clara, of German heritage, living in England, travels to Cincinnati to attend an auction where she bids on and wins several porcelain pieces: eight total, including a rabbit and a lamb, a bear, and a Viking. She is interested in who these pieces initially belonged to; however, the auctioneer was not able to give her that information. Clara is searching, with the hope to discover who her father is. Clara’s deceased mother, Bettini was an artist, and she suspects possibly her father was too. Before flying back to England in an apartment that had belong to a man now deceased, she finds is surprised to find a picture of her mother.

Max Ehrlick, an Austrian Jew, lives in Germany following his dream to become an architect. Through a mutual friend, Max meets the beautiful German artist, Bettina Vogel. Over time they fall in love, but because he is Jewish and she German, they are unable to marry. As years go by, eventually it is imperative they leave Germany and go into hiding.

As this fascinating story unfolds between the different time periods, there are many twists and turns, unexpected events, and secrets. The many cast of characters, both good and bad, are excellently portrayed.
This is a story that did not leave me just because the last page was turned. I had to pause for a day or two to absorb it. This historical fiction book is beautifully written, and nearly impossible to put down.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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A beautiful, heart wrenching story in the middle of the war. Sarah Freethy brilliantly flows through two different time periods. Clara yearns to find the link between her artist mother and these beautiful porcelain objects made during WWII. Thank you Net Galley for the ARC.

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A young couple in love, living 1929 in Germany, but life there begins to change, and soon they are not even allowed to marry as he is Jewish. We follow this couple as they go about trying to earn a living, both artists, and he is also an architect working on the autobahn. She loves to paint abstract, but soon that is also not allowed!
The author gives us a glimpse into what life was like for the folks, and we know what was happening at that time for people of the Jewish faith.
This is a time slip read, spanning from 1929 to 1993 and back as the years toward the danger becomes harder and harder.
What would a mother do to save her child? In this read the Mom Bettina does just that, save her, and we are there when Clara is both a child and an adult with her own child.
I loved how the author brought this book to a conclusion, yes there are surprises, and then there are how we wish things turn out.
I was page turning for answers, and I think we need to be reminded of the Holocaust!
I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher St. Martin's Press, and was not required to give a positive review.

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Sarah Freethy's historical fiction novel, The Porcelain Maker, sweeps me away to a vividly depicted era, where love, passion, and artistry intertwine. Set against the backdrop of 18th-century Europe, this enchanting tale weaves together the lives of its characters with meticulous attention to detail, resulting in a captivating read that transports me to another time.

The story centers around the eponymous porcelain maker, whose name is lost to history, as he embarks on a journey that takes him from the bustling streets of Paris to the opulent courts of Vienna and beyond. Freethy's rich prose skillfully brings to life the artistic process, immersing me in the delicate and intricate world of porcelain-making, where beauty is forged from clay and fire.

At the heart of The Porcelain Maker is a tender romance that blossoms between the porcelain maker and Isabelle, a spirited young woman who becomes his muse. Their love story unfolds with a sense of forbidden desire, as they navigate the complexities of class and societal expectations. Freethy adeptly captures the nuances of their relationship, balancing passion and longing with the challenges they face in a world that seeks to keep them apart.

Freethy's attention to historical accuracy shines through in the intricate details of the settings, costumes, and customs of the time period. Freethy's research is evident, and she seamlessly integrates historical events and figures into the narrative, adding depth and authenticity to the story. From the elegance of the French court to the artistic circles of Vienna, the world-building in The Porcelain Maker is immersive and transports me to a bygone era.

The characters in the novel are well-developed and relatable, each with their own aspirations, flaws, and secrets. The porcelain maker himself is a complex protagonist, driven by his passion for his craft while grappling with personal demons. Isabelle, on the other hand, is a strong-willed and determined young woman who defies societal conventions. Their interactions are filled with tension, tenderness, and a palpable chemistry that keeps me eagerly turning the pages.

One aspect that could have been further explored in The Porcelain Maker is the broader historical and political context of the time. While the focus of the novel is primarily on the characters and their relationships, a deeper exploration of the societal upheaval and artistic movements of the period would have added another layer of depth to the story.

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Thanks to the author , Sarah Freethy for this amazing story about the porcelain makers. I never really have heard of this art in that era. Bettina and Max have a love story that is so tender with all the struggles they have in that era. The characters are so believed , one feels like they are there with them. Max the porcelain maker and Bettina are followed through years and lastly with their daughter trying to find her dad. The picture of the Viking plays a viable part in this story. Read and find out why. Thanks to St. Martins Press and Net Galley for the early preview!

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This book was truly a wonderful Historical Fiction book. It was heartbreaking and powerful at the same time. One of the best I have read this year. Definitely would recommend this book.

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The novel spans the years between 1993 and 1929 as Clara tries to find out her mother’s history and who her father was and why she was so determined not to share it.
Clara eventually, through luck and determination, learns how Max, a gifted architect and her mother, Bettina, a renowned avant-garde artist, meet and fall in love in Berlin. With the threat of Nazism on the rise, they make choices to ensure their safety, but eventually Max is arrested and sent to Dachau, where his talent at making porcelain figures, makes him useful to the Nazi machine. Clara also makes choices to change her life and artistic path to ensure Max’s safety.
This was an exciting and powerful novel. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in reading about this period of history and who enjoy reading about determined, strong women.

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What an amazing story! I highly recommend this wonderful story which is full of memorable characters like artist Bettina Vogel, Max Erhlich, and Bettina's daughter Clara who is looking for her father.

The plot set in 1993 and the WWII time frames was amazingly full of action, historically accurate and also a charming love story.

The Porcelain Maker comes to life when Max is sent to Dachau where he begins to work at the porcelain factory

This is truly a well - crafted story that is a very fast read. I was immersed in the book hoping Bettina Vogel, Max Erhlich both would survive the Nazis oppression.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you net galley for the advance reader copy of this novel. This was a historical fiction set in WWII between a Jewish man, Max and his German lover, Bettina told in dual timelines. Max is sent to Dauchau and because of his artist training, he is forced labor at a porcelain factory. Bettina does all she can to save him including marrying herself to a horrible Nazi. The storyline is unique as I didn't know anything about the porcelain factory at Allach. I found that the author didn't include some details of the story that I wished were there....what happened to the Nazi brother for example and the role he placed in Max's arrest. A moving story with great characters overall that I would recommend to WWII historical fiction lovers.

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This was amazing! I couldn’t put it down. I loved that it was based on a true story, and I couldn’t help but research it after I was finished reading.

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This beautiful, heart wrenching, inspirational novel is a must read. Told through alternating perspectives, it follows artist Bettina and architect Max through the early days of World War II in Austria, when no one believes that Hitler will amount to anything or that it is possible for their beautiful lives to be upended. But invade he does, and life changes immediately for Bettina and Max. But Max is Jewish and with the invasion, their love becomes illegal. Both must make terrible choices to survive, and eventually Max ends up in Dachau, where his artistic skills give him some protection.

Bettina's daughter Clara has always known that there is some mystery behind her father. Her vague memories provide few clues and Bettina refuses to talk about him, even as she lay dying. Clara begins a quest to find the truth about both of her parents.

Beautifully written, and cased on real people and real events, The Porcelain Maker is a real standout among the many historical novels of the time period.

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I was hooked within the first few pages! Flashing back and forth from World War II and 21st century America, this book was hard to put down! Max and Bettina's love story is one for the ages. They work hard to defy the odds as tenuous freedoms slip away in a country growing with Nazi opposition. Art is woven into the story from beginning to end and portrayed beautifully. A porcelain figure with Nazi markings; crafted at a factory in a concentration camp. This is the only clue in Clara's posssession that may lead to revealing the secret of her father's identity. In a time where secrets determine life or death, this story of love, deception and courage unfolds. Will Clara uncover her mother's mysterious past to find answers or reveal more questions?

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The romantic story of two lovers parted by Nazi Germany and their murderous hated of anything different from what they thought was right. It is nice to see a concentration camp other than Auschwitz portrayed in a story about the Holocaust.

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The Porcelain Maker is a dual-POV novel that opens in present-day 1993 with Clara at an auction house bidding on porcelain figurines, hoping she will discover the secrets of her mother's past. The story also follows her mother and Max in 1937, forward toward the incoming World War II.
This is an immersive novel that you know will tell a story of love, hatred, redemption, and betrayal. Freethy's writing is richly detailed and atmospheric, immersing the reader in the historical settings of the story, from the modern-day United States to WWII Germany. The author masterfully weaves multiple narrative threads and perspectives, creating a complex web of intrigue that keeps the reader engaged and guessing until the end.

One of the most impressive aspects of The Porcelain Maker is Freethy's ability to seamlessly blend fact and fiction, drawing from actual historical events and legends to create a believable and fascinating story.

I enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to anyone passionate about historical fiction.

I just reviewed The Porcelain Maker by Sarah Freethy. #ThePorcelainMaker #NetGalley

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