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There are one million new books published each year. With so many books and so little time, where do you begin to find your next must-read? There’s the New York Times Bestseller list, the Goodreads app, the Cape Library’s Staff picks shelf and now Martin’s Must-Reads.Every Wednesday at 6:42 and 8:42 a.m., and Sunday at 8:18 a.m., Betty Martin recommends a must read based on her own personal biases for historical fiction, quirky characters and overall well-turned phrases. Her list includes WWII novels, biographies of trailblazers, novels with truly unique individuals and lots more. Reading close to 100 titles a year, Betty has plenty of titles to share.Local support for "Martin's Must Reads" comes from the Cape Girardeau Public Library and the Poplar Bluff Municipal Library.

Martin's Must-Reads: 'The Porcelain Maker'

“In a tall cabinet, on a glass shelf, lies a white porcelain rabbit. Fluorescent light is reflected in the sheen of its coat. Lifelike, plump and pretty, you can almost imagine pulling it onto your lap to stroke, but there is a tension there. The delicately sculpted ears lie flat, and its sightless milky-white eyes roll back in fear. Underneath, where the soft fur of its belly would be, the porcelain is completely smooth and hides the maker’s mark; the word Allach is stamped in an angular font that speaks of bierkellers, pine forests and Alpine lodges. Above it, painted in flat black brushstrokes, twin strikes of lightning: SS.”

Those are the opening lines to Sarah Freethy’s historical novel The Porcelain Maker. The story moves between 1993 America and WWII Germany. It begins in 1993 when Clara Vogel purchases ten old porcelain figurines including the rabbit and a Viking. She had been searching for the Viking in hopes it would lead to information about her father.

In 1925 in Vienna, Max Ehrlich, a 19-year-old Jew and budding architect meets Bettina Vogel, an up and coming artist. They fall in love and on the day they plan to escape Max is arrested and sent to a prison in Allach, Germany, to work at a porcelain plant. The porcelain plant is Himmler’s idea to use “as a tool of propaganda, to sell an idea, of both art and of family life.” As Clara tries to rescue Max, she becomes an informant for the underground. And then to protect her unborn child, she marries the German officer in charge of collecting works of art for the Fuhrer.

If you’re looking for a story about a little-known aspect of WWII, then you must read The Porcelain Maker by Sarah Freethy.

Betty Martin was born in Boston, Massachusetts to a Lutheran pastor and his organist wife. Betty’s love of books was inspired by her father who read to all four children each night.