Saturday, March 14, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: This Terrible Beauty, by Katrin Schumann {ends 3/21}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley
“It will be all right,” he tells her, “as long as we keep working honestly. And by that, well…what I’m trying to say is the struggle to tell our truth must never stop. I want to do this in service of my country –”

“But doesn’t that dilute it? Art with a purpose?”

“It’s about believing. It’s about that and trusting our hearts are in the right place, that we have the good of others in mind, too, not just ourselves. See? Work with a heart, yes, it’s work with integrity.”

All this talk about his “work” is an infinite loop of learning for her. This is the first time Bettina has considered work to be anything other than a place you go to complete defined tasks in order to earn money and be part of a community. For her, work is physical, practical. Peter’s work is not like this – it involves exploration and analysis, an opportunity for expression, for sharing and testing out ideas. In particular, he explains, he loves taking popular literature and letting the kids play with it, creating allegories or drawing on mythology and rewriting. It’s clear that his students adore him, writing him letters in their perfect cursive declaring their admiration.

He reads to her from one of his notebooks the text of a banner he put up in his classroom: An education that does not awaken the youth to a sense of conscience and personal moral responsibility is not worthy of that name. – Eduard Spranger, 1947. But her gut tells her to be wary of trying to shape the creative impulse into a sword or a scythe.


I love the way this author takes someone who is a villain by circumstance (a German after WWII) and shows how this casting changes their life. I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: This Terrible Beauty, by Katrin Schumann {ends 3/21}
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 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 man.

When 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 child.

Ten 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.


I really liked the realness of this book. Everything isn’t sunshine and roses, especially on an occupied island after your previous country loses the war. And not participating as a citizen is not an option. Is true love still an option? Some parts of life happen regardless of the world going on around us.

The telling of this story alternated between Bettina’s life at the end of World War II on the island where she’s spent her whole life, and her modern-day life ten years later in Chicago as an acclaimed photographer and a loner. I felt that her life at the end of the war is a story that hasn’t been often told. Living on an occupied island that was becoming part of East Germany was a limiting and oppressed existence that is hard for us to even imagine. Coming of age and trying to decide who you are as an adult during this backdrop sounds extremely challenging.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy WWII era fiction or characters dealing with moral dilemmas. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars.

{click here to purchase - currently free for Kindle Unlimited!}

Becki Bayley is a reader, a thinker, and a writer at SweetlyBSquared.com for more than 18 years.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of A Terrible Beauty!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Saturday, March 21st, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be emailed the next day, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

This Terrible Beauty, by Katrin Schumann

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