- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow (May 2, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 006236958X
- ISBN-13: 978-0062369581
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 323 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Baker's Secret: A Novel Hardcover – May 2, 2017
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Praise for The Baker’s Secret: “Transcends even a critical moment in history to suggest the inescapable human condition of ignorance of the future, and the absolute necessity of hope, courage, and unselfish sacrifice.” (Sena Naslund, author of Ahab's Wife, Four Spirits, and The Fountain of St. James Court)
“A tale beautifully, wisely, and masterfully told.”
(Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun)
“This many-faceted, thought-provoking story prompts soul-searching about life, war, and death.” (Booklist)
“Remarkably touching, insightful and timely… bridges several powerful stories of life and death that explore the cost of courage and the true meaning of heroism… Illuminating, uplifting and ultimately redemptive.” (RT Book Reviews (4 1/2 stars))
“In this moving saga, Stephen P. Kiernan tells the story of soldiers and survivors, heroes and healing. . . . I’m not sure I’ve ever read a novel that so poignantly depicts the brevity of life, the significance of each moment, the impact we have on one another.” (Mary Morris, author of The Jazz Palace)
From the Back Cover
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
Never Surrender . . .
On June 5, 1944, as a gray dawn rises over the small town of Vergers 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 he was pulled from his shop at gunpoint, the first of many villagers taken by the Nazis.
In the years during which 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 that she shares with the hungry villagers. Under the cold, watchful eyes of armed soldiers, Emma has built a clandestine network of barter and exchange that she and the villagers use to thwart their occupiers. Like a gypsy, she makes her way around the village, moving among desperate inhabitants and arrogant occupiers—a deal maker, an observer, and a keeper of secrets.
But her gift to the village is much more than a few crusty loaves. Emma gives the people a taste of hope—by enabling them to care for one another, by being a model of dignity and defiance, and by helping the villagers survive should the Allies ever come.
As a brutal Nazi captain begins to uncover her network, and the intricately woven web of resistance and subterfuge starts to unravel, the people of Vergers find their bonds tested as never before. Ultimately Emma, facing potential execution, displays a courage and strength of will that shows them all a path to redemption.
Top customer reviews
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Though there are some horrific scenes of Nazi atrocities, Kiernan humanizes the drama which plays out on the small screen of Verbier with its many memorable characters, many of whom will stay with you long after the final page is turned. A very mature novel, well paced and well told.
There are many memorable characters in this story, and the author does a good job of letting the reader understand why they do what they do to survive. But underneath it all, they treat their community as a family with a common enemy. There is a lot of suspense, examples of bravery, and action in this story.
I did not give this book 5 stars for a couple of reasons. First, I found the writing a little choppy and hard to follow at times. Second, I had to read a publisher's description to confirm what I suspected, that the historical event the story revolves on is D-Day and that the village was in Normandy. The author never specifically mentions the event or place (or I totally missed it). Maybe this was intentional to keep the focus on Emma, but I would have found it more meaningful to know for sure.
Aside from that, the author uses a baking metaphor throughout the book, using how something tastes to describe the feelings at the time. Ending on the taste of hope was a good way to end. I recommend this book!
Emma soon bartered for different things that the people in the village needed. Because of the war there is death and she witnessed friends being shot. There is sadness and some joy in the book.
War was very hard on the village. I enjoyed reading the book.
Selfless and formidable heroine. Author describes all elements of the invasion accurately and weaves a tale of French heroism. From his description of the beaches I actually felt I was back on Utah beach and walking above the cliffs looking out from German pillboxes to the remains of the Mulberry harbors. Great book! Highly recommend.