Monday, March 9, 2020

"This Terrible Beauty"

Katrin Schumann is the author of the Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestseller The Forgotten Hours. Born in Freiburg, Germany, she lives in Boston and Key West.

Schumann applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, This Terrible Beauty, and reported the following:
My book centers on the story of a young German woman from the island of Rugen who, after World War II, marries a man who ends up becoming an agent in East Germany's growing Secret Police force. To me, Werner is an intriguing character: a man stunted by polio, a bureaucrat with limited power who adores his wife and suspects she doesn't love him back. All he wants is a peaceful and happy life, and his own family. I was intrigued by what happens to good men who are corrupted by power, and so some of the book is told from Werner's point of view. I wanted readers to understand his motivations; I didn't want them to be able to write him off as single-note. On page 69, Werner is surprised in his office by a visit from his superior officer, Bieder.
On his way home, Werner replays this scene to himself again and again. It seems he is inching his way up the ladder. A man of significant influence has taken an interest in him. He has married a beautiful, healthy woman, and they are working on starting a family. His future is promising. So why is it he feels as if Franz Josef Bieder was trying to test him? And why is it Werner does not feel entirely comfortable with the answers he gave?
It's an awkward exchange in which Werner is trying to figure out where he stands. He is desperate for approval and this desperation shows. He's promised his wife Bettina that he'll ask about a friend who has disappeared, and we see him struggling to do this but in a half-hearted way. His intense discomfort humanizes him. The scene is supposed to make us cringe, and yet also feel for him and the awkwardness of his situation.
Visit Katrin Schumann's website.

Writers Read: Katrin Schumann.

--Marshal Zeringue