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November 12, 2023

The Porcelain Maker by Sarah Freethy ~ A Review

by Susan Roberts

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

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of historical fiction novel The Porcelain Maker by Sarah Freethy
November 2023; St. Martin's Press; 978-1250289346
audio, ebook, print (384 pages); historical fiction

This fantastic debut novel by Sarah Freethy is a dual-timeline novel that looks at the beauty of art in contrast with the ugliness of war.  

1925-1946  - Max, a Jewish architect, and Bettina, a beautiful and celebrated German artist meet in Berlin in 1925 and fall in love.  Their world is full of love and light and most importantly their art.  Both are dedicated to their craft and encourage each other to try new things.  By 1932, the rise of Nazism in Germany has caused her art to be labeled as decadent.  Max and Bettina try to keep their hope alive and but making art has become increasingly dangerous for them as the Nazis' influence on the culture of Germany pushes it to the darker side.  When they can no longer support themselves, they move to Dachau with the help of a friend.  Max gets false papers and a job as a laborer in a Porcelain factory while Bettina moves back in with her critical and dysfunctional family.  When Max is arrested and sent to Dachau prison camp, life appears to be over for him.  Will his artistic ability to make beautiful porcelain help him survive??

1993 - Clara, the daughter of Bettina is looking for clues about who her biological father was.  Her mother never shared any information with her about her years in Germany during the war and after her death, Clara and her daughter begin a quest to find out what they can about her father.  She starts by going to auctions and buying porcelain figurines because she knows that they have some kind of connection to her father.  When she and her daughter go to Germany, her mother's secrets start to unravel as she follows the clues.  Will she find the information she's been seeking or is it lost in history?

The characters are well-written and believable as their lives move from love and light to despair and darkness. I understood Clara and her need to find out about her biological father and more about her mother who never shared anything about her past with her daughter.  The description of the porcelain figurines made this book even more special.  I love learning new things when I read and spent a lot of time googling porcelain manufacturing and the factory in Dachau.  This is a World War II story that I don't think has been told in previous books.  The author did a lot of research into the art world before and during WWII.  It's amazing that this is a debut novel and I look forward to future books from this author.

Buy The Porcelain Maker at Amazon

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.   

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