Title: The Baker's Secret
Author: Stephen P. Kiernan
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: May 2, 2017
Source: TLC Book Tours
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "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.
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."
My Two Cents:
"The Baker's Secret" is the story of Emma, a woman who lives in a small town in Normandy, France in the 1940s. Her town would be idyllic if it weren't for the Nazis that have occupied the town and turned everything upside down. The villagers often feel like they don't have a lot of recourse or ways to show their displeasure. Emma does it in small ways as she and the rest of the villagers are waiting for the allies to come.
Emma is a fantastic character. Even though her messing with the bread that she is to provide to the Nazis could get her in a lot of trouble, she doesn't seem to worry about it much at all. She knows that providing comfort to others in her village is worth the trouble. She is so calm and steady throughout the book and I really loved reading about her very subtle protest and fearlessness throughout the book. I liked a lot of the secondary characters as well. Emma's grandmother, Meme, is another good character who was very memorable for me.
The writing of the book felt a little stiff to me. While I liked Emma and the secondary characters, I had this sense of feeling as if I was being held at arms' length to really getting to know the characters. In a way, the stiffness works because it evokes the way that Emma seems to hold most everyone at arms' length. She is most definitely all business!
The setting of the book was great! I really liked the detail in the setting though. I can't recall reading any historical fiction set in Normandy before the allies landed so it was really great to see it in this book! There are some small details in the book like the Nazis changing mileage signs to various cities. That was something that I had never thought of before and I love when historical fiction can teach me something!