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It's 1937, and Katya-working as a servant girl on a Trakehner horse estate in East Prussia-dreams of being a writer. One hot June day, with Thomas Mann as her muse, and Minna Epstein as her friend, Katya heads to Rauschen, a spa town on the Baltic. Helmut and David, the estate owner's two sons, accompany them. The foursome pairs off-Minna and Helmut, David and Katya-and things go from peaceful and predictable to dramatic and unsettling. By summer's end, Minna leaves for Vienna, ostensibly, to study acting. The new girl who replaces her-Gretchen-is an avid Nazi supporter. She and Helmut, an aspiring SS recruit, soon become a couple. Meanwhile, David and Katya enjoy riding in the East Prussian countryside. One evening, David has a seizure. According to the 1935 Nuremberg Laws, he must be sterilized. David and Katya struggle to salvage their relationship, while babies seem to crop up everywhere. Katya attends a cousin's baby shower and Gretchen deals with morning sickness. Throughout the story, Minna and Katya exchange letters and Minna finally reveals her own unwanted pregnancy. Breeding Trakehner horses might be an exact science, but breeding perfect Aryans is much more complicated.