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The Baker's Secret: A Novel by Stephen…
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The Baker's Secret: A Novel

by Stephen P. Kiernan

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book from early reviewers. I absolutely loved this book. It is set in World War II and these books are always terrifying to me. It is well written and the characters are well rounded. I love how Emma doesn't really mean to be a part of the resistance but she can't stand to see villagers starving, I wish the straw in the bread would have killed the Nazis. ( )
  tammychristine | Nov 7, 2017 |
I love reading books based on WWII, but it also takes a lot of me as I really can't imagine living through the horrors of war - it makes me so thankful for my secure life.

This book was heartbreaking, I amost DNF'd it a few times as I couldn't handle the violence. Kiernan didn't mince the atrocities of war to both humans and animals. The main character Emma came across cold and aloof at times, but considering the environment in which she lived, it was very realistic as survival for herself and her community was her goal.

While the majority of the book was depressing IMO, the ending was uplifting and sent a message of hope for future generations. ( )
  Bridgetv | Nov 1, 2017 |
A masterpiece. This author captured the every day life of occupation on the Normandy Coast in such a realistic manner. I was so moved in the last chapter where Emma and Monkey boy were perched in a tree on the coast watching the invasion. she saw the troops storming the beaches many giving their lives to free her country she could not believe their sacrifice. There was gratitude expressed in beautiful prose. This is a book that I will not soon forget. Highly recommend! ( )
  Thelmajean | Oct 4, 2017 |
Kiernan's novel is set in a small village in Normandy in the months leading up to D-Day, June 6, 1944, when the people of France were living under Nazi occupation. The apprentice baker, Emma suffers immense losses and witnesses unimaginable cruelty but despite this, she resolves to do her best for her grandmother and friends while remaining sceptical of a rescue from Allied forces. She is given an extra ration of flour to make twelve baguettes for the Nazi soldiers, but by adding ground straw she is able to save enough flour to make two extra loaves for starving villagers. Combined with other innovative ways to procure food this modest young woman helps her neighbours endure the unendurable, at considerable risk to herself.

Although she accomplished much in the way of helping villagers survive, when the allied invasion comes about, she is overwhelmed by the losses incurred just so that her people can live freely. It's a heartbreakingly familiar story, but Kiernan's writing style has a poetic quality that conveys something extra, more like a parable. It is beautifully written, thought-provoking and memorable. ( )
1 vote VivienneR | Sep 20, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This was an early review book from Librarything and I loved it. I liked Kiernan's "The Hummingbird" but this was even better. I try to be selective because I seem to be reading a high number of books revolving around WWII. But this was from a different perspective. It takes place in a small French village that is near the beaches that will see the D-Day landings and all inhabitants are trying to do is survive the Nazi occupation and get enough to eat to sustain them Kiernan effortlessly brings the characters to life, I felt like I would have recognized them if I walked into the town. They and their circumstances we very believable and I shared their pain when something sad happened and laughed when they were able to outwit their enemy. Very well written. ( )
  bacreads | Aug 13, 2017 |
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Epigraph
It takes twenty years to bring man from his vegetable state inside the womb...to the stage where he begins to grow into maturity . It took thirty centuries to learn something about his structure. It would take an eternity to learn something about his soul. It only takes an instant to kill him. - Voltaire, 1764
Men are not made for war. But neither are they made for slavery.- Jean Guehenno , 1942
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To Ellen Levine and Jennifer Brehl in gratitude
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All through those years of war, the bread tasted of humiliation.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 006236958X, Hardcover)

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 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.

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 20 Dec 2016 09:36:08 -0500)

After her kind mentor is arrested because of his Jewish heritage, a young baker's apprentice in Normandy engages in discreet resistance activities, baking contraband loaves of bread for the hungry using surplus ingredients taken from occupying forces.… (more)

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