From the multiple-award-winning, 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 22, Emma learned to bake at the side of a master, Ezra Kuchen, the village baker since before she was born. Apprenticed to Ezra at 13, 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.
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.
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Help is really on the way
If you're looking for a book to restore your sense of hope, this is it. The book is first and foremost a book about hope. To know the ultimate end (D-Day) from the beginning. gives the reader a unique perspective to the struggles and general hopelessness of the villagers. I found myself wanting to encourage the heroine that she is wrong - help really and truly IS coming. It is literally one day away. Yet even with this perspective, I found myself anxious for the characters, wondering how many would actually live to see the liberation as that final day unfolds.
This device of shifting perspectives is what makes this book a five star work. While the reader has the advantage of history, the invasion is also described from a variety of other
vantage points. The enemy will view it from the false security of the bluff; the old soldier will view it from his barn loft, and the heroine will see it (or more accurately *not* see it ) from the ground. But it is the surprise perspective of the least likely spectator that will stay with you, and it will make you want to stand up and cheer.
Since I don't know much about this author, I don't know whether the implicit parallels between the story and the Christian concept of redemption were intentional or just something that a reader with a Christian world and life view would see underlying the narrative. I can't say enough how the depth of the story stuck with me and made me want to discuss it with others. (Which is why I ordered the hard copy immediately after finishing the audible so as to persuade friends and family to read it as well. Yes, it's that good. )
The Baker's Secret is a story for anybody. However, if you're in a place in your life where it seems that you're surviving without any real hope that anything will ever change, that help will never come, and that the only person you can count on is yourself, this is particularly the book for you. Hold on; help is really on the way.