Hitler is in power. Surrounded by madness, the charcoal painter sketches the story of the Strauss family. Forced to kill his own men to ensure his survival as a reluctant soldier in France, his luck changes when a fortuitous wound declares him war-essential.
Back in Germany, he meets the widow of his sergeant. When he finds himself falling in love with Maria and her young daughter, he dedicates himself to their survival.
His father, a policeman who is also caught up in the racial genocide of the Nazi regime, seeks atonement for his actions by hiding a Jew in his secret garden.
In love with a wealthy naval officer, his brother finds himself a POW in Canada where he hopes to start his life anew.
Sweeping from France and Russia to the depths of the North Atlantic and Canada, The Charcoal Painter is a story of survival in the face of terror, fear, and despair.