This Terrible Beauty

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On the windswept shores of an East German island, Bettina Heilstrom struggles to build a life from the ashes. World War II has ended, and the Iron Curtain is tearing Europe 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 man.

When Bettina falls in love with an idealistic young renegade, Werner discovers her infidelity and forces her to make a choice: spend her life in prison or leave her home forever. Either way, she loses her lover and her newborn child.

Ten years later, Bettina has reinvented herself in Chicago, although she yearns for the baby she left behind. Surprised by an unexpected visitor, Bettina returns to her ravaged homeland to reclaim her daughter and uncover her beloved’s fate, no matter the cost.

This Terrible Beauty is such a beautifully written story, from the complex and well-developed characters to the ever-changing plot, there is much to like about it. The author did an amazing job writing about life in Germany after the war and about how East Germany developed, which I definitely find to be rare in World War II era historical fiction, as there are many stories that tell about life in Germany during the war (rather than about life afterwards).

While there are many things that I enjoyed about This Terrible Beauty, I have to say that there were times when the story seemed to be a bit slow, and I would have to circle back and power through it.

Reviewed By:

Author Katrin Schumann
Star Count /5
Format Trade
Page Count 381 pages
Publisher Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date 2020-03-01
ISBN 9781542000062 Buy this Book
Issue April 2020
Category Historical Fiction


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