This Terrible Beauty

This Terrible Beauty

This Terrible Beauty
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"[A] compelling and richly layered story of love, motherhood, art, and ultimately self-preservation. An intimate portrait of one woman’s journey... this is a vivid, rapidly-paced historical novel. Unputdownable!” ~ Jillian Cantor, USA Today bestselling author of The Lost Letter and In Another Time

“Lyrically written, fantastic worldbuilding... It's about forgiveness, as three people who have all made mistakes struggle to do what is right in the end for the innocent. This book will stay with me a long time.” ~ Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

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 lover's fate, whatever the cost.


A love story as devastating as it is uplifting, this moving novel centers on a young woman desperate to regain a sense of agency after WWII, shining a spotlight on a shadowy era in German history defined by radical social change. Deeply relevant to our current times, This Terrible Beauty explores the lengths to which we will go to find love, and the sacrifices we make for family and community. I fell in love with these characters, and came away heartened and hopeful.  
Christopher Castellani, author of Leading Men

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. 
Rachel Barenbaum, bestselling author of A Bend in the Stars

Few American writers have so indelibly captured East Germany’s post-war transition from Nazi to Soviet rule, yet Katrin Schumann’s beautiful, northern, sea-swept Rügen is not just a historical backdrop. It is a vivid community of characters whose love, pride, and loyalties lead to a painful, irrevocable decision about a child’s life. The central choice in This Terrible Beauty makes it hard to put down. Schumann’s graceful evocations of people and place make it hard to forget.
Maria Hummel, author of Motherland and the Reese Witherspoon book club pick Still Lives.

A complex, moving story of love and loss, beautifully written. This Terrible Beauty explores the critical nature of art as a lens through which we can understand history, and asks us to be mindful of the ways we choose to look at the world. This is one historical fiction fans can’t miss.
Olivia Hawker, Washington Post bestselling author of The Ragged Edge of Night 

This Terrible Beauty kept me turning the pages long into the night. Katrin Schumann evokes an often forgotten time and place to weave a story that is equally captivating and fascinating. 
Eion Dempsey, bestselling author of White Rose Black Forest

Set in post-war Germany, this gorgeously written, sweeping, cinematic story is also a riveting and romantic page turner. Get ready to put everything on hold and let yourself get lost in this sensual tale. 
Erica Ferencik, bestselling author of The River at Night, a #1 pick, and Into the Jungle

"[This Terrible Beauty] presents the moving record of a woman who tries desperately to reconcile the courage of her convictions with her need for love and family, bridging the divide between the Romantic novelistic tradition and modern, often political, East German literature. [It] is a wise and stirring contribution to the literary canon written about the German Democratic Republic that deserves to find as many enthusiastic readers as the bestselling books about World War II."
The Historical Novel Society

978-1542000062 | March 1, 2019