The Porcelain Maker

A Novel

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Pub Date Nov 07 2023 | Archive Date Not set

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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...

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ISBN 9781250289346
PRICE $29.00 (USD)

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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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One of my favorite reads this year. The imagery is haunting and the story absolutely captivating. The Porcelain Maker is a must-read for historical fiction fans and romance fans alike. The author does a beautiful job juxtaposing the horrors of Nazi Germany with the beauty of art and love in many forms. The pace is arresting - I simply could not put this book down once I started.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting swept up in the romance of Bettina and Max's early carefree love affair; their budding romance made all the more inviting when you know of the unrest to come. The WWII story is interpolated with Clara's story set in the early 1990s and her quest to find out who her father was. The gumbo of art and love as a powerful measure of resistance and hope carried this tale to new heights; the bonus being that the plot was also extremely well-executed and supported by engaging characters. Each character served a critical role in the richness and momentum of the story and I was invested in the where-do-they-each-end-up? until the very end.

Highly, highly recommend this great book. For those who do not read, I hope they make it a movie! A really special story.

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It's probably unusual to say that something is a heartwarming story about the Holocaust. However, this is such a poignant rendering of a woman searching for information about her father. She discovers a love story that is bittersweet and so unfair. A wonderful historical novel about a real porcelain factory in a war camp.

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“In the end, art and love are all we leave behind.” So the story of Max and Bettina unfolds. We begin with some porcelain figurines which take us back to Nazi Germany and finally to present day. Without giving away too much, their love gave them strength to make impossible decisions. Much can be learned from reading Sarah Freethy’s description of what Dachau may have been like for artists. We must never forget lest we repeat.

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I loved this book. On one hand I wanted to hurry up and finish reading it but on the other hand, I had to slow down and take some breaks because I didn’t want it to end. Beautiful story of survival. It did not end the way I expected! Highly recommend! Thank you!!

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Beautiful portrayal of the power of love. Bettina and Max have a truly inspiring love story that begins in 1929. I love how well the complemented each other. They know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are each other’s person. Sadly, they are ripped apart because Max is a Jew. Bettina takes many risks, to the detriment of her own livelihood, in order to stay connected to Max.
Clara, in 1993, wants to solve the mystery of her true father. She has clues that were passed on through her mother, but no real specific details. She works together with her daughter, Lotte, to find the truth.
There are many quotes that I marked and pondered for a while. I love the detailed descriptions of the art, the people, and the various locations. Stunning word mastery. This one stayed with me for a while as I came to know and love the characters. I did not want to put it down and I did not want it to end. I thoroughly enjoyed this gripping, dual timeline tale.
I received a complimentary copy from the author and all opinions expressed are solely my own, freely given.

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This was an unexpected good read blending the past and present storylines of Clara and her parents. It was a beautiful, but heart-wrenching story in the midst of war. Historical romance fans should check this out.

Thank you to Sarah Freethy, the publishers, and Netgalley for the ARC. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Two artists meet at a festival in Berlin in 1929 and fall in love. Max is a talented Jewish architect and Bettina is a painter. The connection they have between them is something you feel as you read their story…..which comes to a grinding halt when the rise of Nazism in Germany starts taking over. Max is arrested and immediately sent to Dachau, luckily for him they realize he is an artist so put him to work making porcelain figures, saving him from death at the moment. Bettina is willing to risk everything in the hope that she can not only escape with their child but also Max.

In 1993, Clara has always wanted to know who her father was, but it was something her mother would never talk about and she never understood why. When her mother passed, Clara decided to start on a mission to find out the truth, good or bad on who he was and why it was a secret. She started with going to an auction to purchase porcelain figures that had been made in a concentration camp as a starting point.

Each character in this book has their story, their flaws, their secrets, who they want to be and where they want to go. As they intertwine with each other over time the story grows with history and romance in so many ways over multiple locations and decades. It only touches on what some had to go through in order to survive war and death.

This is a book that some will find easy to read, a true page turner. While others will take it slow, maybe even need to put it down and come back to it, so they can truly ingest what happened in the world’s history. I received an ARC for my honest review and very glad that I did. It is one that I will be buying when it is printed to add to my collection.

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What a wonderful debut novel! This is a great mix of historical fiction and romance. I look forward to reading more from this author. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance copy.

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If you love historical fiction based in the setting for World War II and generational stories within one book this is for you! I have read several historical fiction books within this setting and really loved the story and and characters that Sarah Freethy brought forth.

The story of the Porcelain Maker is about how two artists fall in love and try to weather through the storm that is leading up to and through World War II. Jumping from present day (1993) to various places in Germany, including Dachau, we learn about how Clara is learning not only about her mother but about her heritage as well. Throughout the book we learn about how art was impacted and is still impacted today during the war and how important it is to communicate to one another in order to save our loved ones memories.

My favorite thing about this book was actually learning about the porcelain factory that was right outside of Dachau. When I think of Dachau I think of the terror that went on there, not even realizing that there was a porcelain factory that Jews worked at and made highly sought after fine pieces of porcelain. This porcelain was in fact another version of propaganda and pieces can still be found today online. While reading this book I actually went in search of information about the porcelain factory and its items because it was so interesting. Rarely does a book cause me to go and do more in-depth research because the story is so interesting, but this one did!

I highly recommend this book, the story line is well thought out, enriching and makes you stop and evaluate your own family history. Thank you to Netgalley and MacMilliian for the opportunity to read this digital ARC.

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Carefully crafted, this book presents the beauty of passionate romance and expressive art. I never thought much about the creation of intricate porcelain pieces before reading this story. Now, it’s on my mind.

The book also shows the dangers of WWII causing severe anxieties. There was no escaping from the violence for many that suffered from physical and emotional pain.

Just before the war in 1925, Max met Bettina with the instant power of love. He was Jewish from Austria and she was German. Their relationship was a red flag for the Nazis. However, one could feel the intensity of their hearts.

They were in art school in the town of Dessau, Germany. She was wild about exploring abstracts and he was studying architecture. He smiled when he saw that she had painted giant female figures just before a party in a modern form. He couldn’t decide if they were “beautiful or terrifying” as if that was part of life.

The story had another POV in the early 90’s where Bettina’s daughter, Clara, was searching for her father. Her mother refused to disclose any information about her father’s identity and now she was gone. But she gave her one hint: he was the porcelain maker of Dachau.

It's a powerful portrayal of relationships with the brave people that were in situations of unbearable conditions. It showed how important love helped them to survive along with the thoughts of their family members.

It’s well written and gives the reader a view of how the porcelain factory was important to Heinrich Himmler, leader of the SS. It made me shiver with the evilness of this man during this time. It’s a story that felt believable; I didn’t want it to end.

My thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read this advanced copy with an expected release date of November 7, 2023.

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It boggles the mind that so many books on the Holocaust have been written. Each of the ones that I have read, and I have read many, are on a different topic that focuses on the absolute evil of the Reich and the horror faced by the millions who were considered subhuman. While the disclaimer states that this was a work of fiction and the characters and situations are the product of the author's imagination, I would like to know if there was in fact a porcelain factory in Dachau. I also would have liked to know what gave Ms. Freethy the idea for writing this extraordinary novel.

This was a very interesting take on the topic of the Holocaust. For while many of the upper echelons of the Nazi organization were interested in doing away with those they considered expendable, they also took an amazing interest in art. And that is what this story is all about. What makes art acceptable for everyone? And who should be allowed to create art? These are questions the Nazis were very involved in deciding according to the author.

The book was beautifully written and populated with believable characters in unimaginable situations that were all too real. I loved this story and highly recommend it.

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