This review is based on a complimentary book I received from LibraryThing Early Reviewers. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.The Baker's Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan
Genres: Historical Fiction
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Format: ARC, Hardcover
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Purchase at: Amazon ◊ Barnes & Noble ◊ Book Depository ◊ Google Play ◊ Kobo ◊ IndieBound ◊ Books-A-Million
From the critically acclaimed author of The Hummingbird and The Curiosity comes a dazzling novel of World War II—a shimmering tale of courage, determination, optimism, and the resilience of the human spirit, set in a small Normandy village on the eve of D-Day
On June 5, 1944, as dawn rises over a small town on the Normandy coast of France, Emmanuelle is making the bread that has sustained her fellow villagers in the dark days since the Germans invaded her country.
Only twenty-two, Emma learned to bake at the side of a master, Ezra Kuchen, the village baker since before she was born. Apprenticed to Ezra at thirteen, Emma watched with shame and anger as her kind mentor was forced to wear the six-pointed yellow star on his clothing. She was likewise powerless to help when they pulled Ezra from his shop at gunpoint, the first of many villagers stolen away and never seen again.
But in the years that her sleepy coastal village has suffered under the enemy, Emma has silently, stealthily fought back. Each day, she receives an extra ration of flour to bake a dozen baguettes for the occupying troops. And each day, she mixes that precious flour with ground straw to create enough dough for two extra loaves—contraband bread she shares with the hungry villagers. Under the cold, watchful eyes of armed soldiers, she builds a clandestine network of barter and trade that she and the villagers use to thwart their occupiers.
But her gift to the village is more than these few crusty loaves. Emma gives the people a taste of hope—the faith that one day the Allies will arrive to save them.
The Baker’s Secret is a powerful tale of the indomitability of the human spirit even under the worst circumstances. This story takes place in the small village of Vergers. This is a quaint town settled on the Normandy coast of France and has been under occupation by the Germans for several years. It is here that we meet Emmanuelle, at the start of the occupation she is the assistant baker to Ezra Kuchen. Ezra is Jewish and is one of the first residents to be murdered, execution style. That was a powerful and haunting scene. It is also the start to a secret rebellion that most of the townspeople take part in.
This town is filled with a range of emotions in regards to the occupation. Many believe that the Allies will come and free the town’s citizens. Some villagers take the side of the Nazi’s believing in their propaganda and that they are the stronger force. Emma believes that the Allies will not come and it is through her determination to help who she can that she creates a network of bartering and trading that meets the needs of the townspeople. Emma becomes the lynch pin for the survival of the villagers.
From the start of this book I was drawn to these characters. This story is woven through multiple voices with Emmanuelle being the main narrator. What I loved about this story was that the characters were fully realized. They all played a part to the tale that is being told. You are able to feel how the occupation of the German forces affected the entire town. Even better was that you knew clearly what was taking place without the writing being overly graphic. There is love, lose and desperation. You feel everything as the residents lose what mattered most to them. There are several scenes that will haunt you. This is such an amazing read!
This is not a tale about war but how the occupation affected the villagers. How they had to pull together to survive even when that survival would come with an even greater cost for some. Truly an emotional, moving read that will engage your emotions from start to finish. You will not be able to put this book down. When choosing your summer reads or book club selections I highly suggest that The Baker’s Secret is on your list!
*Thank you to LibraryThing Early Reviewers & William Morrow for this eARC of The Baker’s Secret*