It's 1993 and Clara Vogel has traveled from England to attend a small auction in Cincinnati where she purchases what appears to be a collection of low-value porcelain figurines. But while the maker's mark of "SS'' reveals a provenance that is tragic, the items could lead Clara to uncover the identity of her father. The dual-timeline story switches to 1925, Weimar, Germany where the love story between Austrian Jewish architect Max Ehrlich and Christian German artist Bettina Vogel begins. As life in Germany becomes more oppressive and restrictive, Bettina and Max realize that their relationship has put them in danger. The couple relocates and Max, under a new identity, gets a job as a sculptor at the Allach Porcelain Factory, which is owned by the SS. A second factory is later opened at Dachau, where Max is eventually sent. Clara, aided by her daughter, starts to unravel the mystery of her father, whose identity had been hidden from her.
Author Sarah Freethy, in an impressive debut, has written a well-researched, interesting and moving story. Told through fictional characters, The Porcelain Maker is set in one of the most horrific death camps of WWII and the porcelain factory was an actual place. The story did a good job detailing the changing environment in Germany as the Nazi Party deemed all modern art, including those in the Bauhaus Movement, as degenerate forcing Bettina to change her art style. The love story and the sacrifices each made for the other tugged at my heart. There are so many WWII-era books to choose from and as someone who has read many of them, I found this to be a unique one. I was very touched.
Many thanks to St. Martin's Press and BookSparks for the opportunity to read this book in advance.
Rated 4.25 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: November 7, 2023.
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