THIS TERRIBLE BEAUTY by Katrin Schumann is a beautifully written and compelling work of historical fiction that will stay on my mind for a long time Inspired by actual historical events, the story has a past and present timeline that follows the heartbreaking journey of main character, Bettina Heilstrom as she seeks to rebuild her life after a devastating loss The past timeline is set on an island in East Germany after World War II has ended and Germany has been divided East Germany is under the control of the German Democratic Republic which is becoming increasingly repressive to its own citizens Bettina s husband, Werner is quietly rising in the ranks of the new secret police, a dangerous role which keeps them under constant scrutiny When Werner discovers that Bettina has been unfaithful to him, he punishes her by forcing her to give up her young daughter, Annaliese and leave the country forever in return for sparing her lover, Peter s life Broken hearted and alone, Bettina ends up in Chicago where ten years later she is a reknowned photographer However, she has never given up hope of someday being reunited with her daughter A surprise visit from someone in her past sets Bettina on a path back to her homeland to search for her daughter and learn the fate of her former lover The descriptions of the characters, their relationships and the political climate in both timeframes are vivid and haunting I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen in the end THIS TERRIBLE BEAUTY is a touching and emotional story of love, loss and the tragedies of war and I recommend it most highly Thank you to the author for providing me an early copy of this outstanding book. This book had the potential of being five stars, but something about it fell a little flat for me The story follows Bettina Heilstrom who marries young in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of East Germany and falls into an unhappy marriage with her husband Werner who is rising in the ranks of the Russian secret police But then Bettina falls in love with Peter, a local teacher and dreamer who sweeps her off her feet After giving birth to her daughter, Bettina is caught redhanded by her husband in adultery and he forces her to leave her daughter and homeland behind Bettina goes to America and her passion for photography becomes a talent and livelihood, but when she receives word that Werner is ill, she sneaks back into East Germany in an attempt to find her child.The good I loved the glimpse that this novel gave into life in East Germany It s not something I ve read a lot about it so I found it fascinating The style of writing as well was lyrical and complex and I really enjoyed it The story is complex and nuanced and I appreciated the lack of black and white morality.The bad I just didn t like the characters I didn t feel bad for Bettina when she was forced to leave, and I didn t feel the deep pain of her separation from her daughter It was a good book that fell flat for me. Thanks to Great Thoughts Great Readers FB Page and Lake Union for this ARC.I always enjoy historical novels This one is no exception It goes from the present in Chicago in 1965 to 1935 in Germany with Bettina as it s main character She lived a lonely life with a husband she didn t love but found a teacher who she did love She ends up having an affair with him and has a daughter Who s daughter We never find out When her husband finds out, it s either her leaving Germany w out her daughter or maybe get arrested if she comes back What choice would you make Fast forward when she goes back to Germany 11 years later She sees her daughter and has the option of either meeting her and telling her the truth or let it go since she seems to have a happy life living with her father and her new family It broke my heart at the end but yet it ended up happy in another way. Romance and politics done wellThis story of a woman in Germany after WWII is told from, mostly, the standpoint of her life after the Russians take over She is newly married at the time just after the war and her life is changed from a Nazi regime rapidly to that of Soviet Russian dominance The plot reverts from the late 1960 s Chicago where Bettina ultimately immigrates and the 1940 s as she flashes back to what brought her there The man she married in Germany near the end of the war and her husband has a career in the soviet secret police Bettina s only outlet from her stifled existence in East Germany is her amateur photography until she meets a teacher at the middle school who opens her up to a broader outlook on life and art and literature The oppression under Sovie rule is told from a day to day existence and the norms of a suppressed society.The writing is good and we see an average woman who has no real political thought other than what she sees and heard daily The romance that develop between her and the teacher is understood as she grasps the awakening to love and life outside the grey existence I truly felt her need for a life Her husband s work clashes with her social life be it at her work at a fish factory, at home with him, her neighbors and her own sister.I ve never read a story told in this fashion and found it very real and difficult to accept all the constraints imposed on her as she deals with her marriage, the guilt and true love of the extra marital affair and the child she ultimately bears Add all this to her ending up in Chicago and it s a story of so many politics that invade one life to such an extent it strikes a powerful undertone.A definite recommendation to readers of historical fiction and romance Subdued and powerful all in one very good book. Schumann s luminous and unflinching lens in This Terrible Beauty sweeps the reader into the crushing birth of the GDR and a heart pounding love story that lays bare the trauma war leaves in its wake Her vivid focus reveals characters who crumble with heart break and rise with strength, and above all draws her readers in and never lets them go. Wow What an incredible book It was hard for me to lay it down before finishing it This is an incredible story of human worth, love, survival and hope It is the story of Bettina, a young woman caught in the crosshairs of Germany during and after Hitler s assault on Europe It is a story of despair and of love, of loneliness and heartbreak, of joy and faith I felt I was sharing Bettina s life, living it alongside her as she struggled with loss and feeling entrapped finding joy in that old camera and the wonder of the creative juices it encouraged as her life unfolded.This book is amazing I learned much history that I was unaware of, as well as being thoroughly engrossed with the story Thank you, Ms Schumann, for sharing this incredible book with your readers It is a very goodread, as well as a story that needed to be told I got this book through s Prime reading shelf. This Terrible BeautyAn excellent compelling book I didn t want to put it down It gives such a real picture of life in East Germany after the war it s unbelievable it happened but I know that it did The characters come across so real you can live life with them A great read. From The Bestselling Author Of The Forgotten Hours Comes An Unforgettable Story Of One Woman S Journey To Reclaim What She Lost In A Country Torn Apart By The Devastating Legacy Of WWIIOn The Windswept Shores Of An East German Island, Bettina Heilstrom Struggles To Build A Life From The Ashes World War II Has Ended, And Her Country Is Torn Apart Longing For A Family, She Marries Werner, An Older Bureaucrat Who Adores Her But After Joining The Fledgling Secret Police, He Is Drawn Deep Into Its Dark Mission And Becomes A Dangerous ManWhen Bettina Falls In Love With An Idealistic Young Renegade, Werner Discovers Her Infidelity And Forces Her To Make A Terrible Choice Spend Her Life In Prison Or Leave Her Home Forever Either Way She Loses Both Her Lover And ChildTen Years Later, Bettina Has Reinvented Herself As A Celebrated Photographer In Chicago, But She S Never Stopped Yearning For The Baby She Left Behind Surprised By An Unexpected Visitor From Her Past, She Resolves To Return To Her Ravaged Homeland To Reclaim Her Daughter And Uncover Her Beloved S Fate, Whatever The Cost First Reads February 2020 An historical novel, this book showed me how life changed after WWII for the Germans and the wall was built separating the country It also is a love story and how important art is in our world.
- Kindle Edition
- 366 pages
- This Terrible Beauty
- Katrin Schumann
- 04 November 2019 Katrin Schumann