Tamara Maniouk is who the book is named after. She is found dead, on a train, in Endwarden, by a man named Hans Obuch. He notices her hand first because it is sticking out of her compartment a little bit and is Unpleasing to him. He then sees that her head is hanging in a funny way and there is a tear on her cheek. She has black hair, and is not from the area. Hans Obuch thinks he has seen her before, but does not know her. As it turns out, he had seen her in a picture while he was on an airplane. While in the Endwarden Police Station, Hans Obuch searches through her purse. In it ther is an empty bottle of nail polish, money, French cigaretts, tissues, and a small mirror in a leather pouch. He takes the mirror out of the pouch and a small photo falls out. The photo is of a soldier and on the back it says, "For Tamara, H.B". The purse then appears in a painting Obuch sees while in Endwarden.
You later find out that Tamara was in love with the soldier from the photo and has a child with this "H.B." person, who turns out to be Hanno Bricks, the son of Wilhelm Bricks, the wealthy owner of a Schnaps factory. Tamara and Hanno met while he was serving in Tunisia during WWII. She houses him in the second room of her book shop for ten months while he hides from the war. After the war ends, Hanno goes to Sweeden, but Tamara stays and waits for her father to return. Hanno goes back to North Africa to meet up with Tamara, but his father did not want this. He was a racist and figured if she was from North Africa she must be black (which she wasn't). Tamara and Hanno have a child who was blond. When Hanno had to go off to the war, Tamara was left with a child, and she did not know where her own father was.
Tamara and Hanno have been writing letters back and forth over the years, and in these letters she tells him that she will be coming to see him in Endwarden. As we find out, Wilhelm has been confiscating the all the letters and Hanno has no idea she is coming. When Tamara is staying with Fabrizius in Oggen, the Bricks send Heidler to offer her one million marks to go back to Tunisia. Tamara refuses to leave unless Hanno personally tells her to leave.

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