By Sarah McCoy
The Baker's Daughter, takes place in Hitler's Germany with Elsie Schmidt, a 17 years old, and her family. They own a bakery shop.
At the same time we are introduced to Reba, a journalist in present day El Paso Texas. She has a boyfriend a Border Patrol Officer, Ricki.
She is asked by her editor, to get a heart warming story from the German Bakery in town. Reba tries to get the story from the owner, Elsie. But the owner is hesitant to tell the story. Instead Reba talks to her daughter, Jane.
Reba is not happy with the story, and continually comes back hoping to break the story. But, what develops is a friendship between Elsie, Jane and Reba.
The story goes back and forth in time. Reba realizes that there is not a happy heart warming story in Germany in 1945.
In Germany, in 1945, things were tough during the war. There is a incident that I will not disclose, you will just have to read it yourself. But, what I will tell you is Elsie accepts a proposal from her Nazi boyfriend., Josef. at a party both of them attend.
During the party, she hears a beautiful voice singing, by a Jewish boy named Tobias. Josef takes Elsie home, and she eventually meets Tobias, at her families bakery doorstep. She decides to hide him. This has proves to be a bad choice for Elsie, but heart and guilt can't allow him on the streets of Germany.
Elsie's sister, Hazel became involved with the Lebensborn Program in Germany. The Lesbensborn program was initiated because the German government believed the German population was decreasing. They wanted a a pure, Aryan race., blond hair, blue eyes.
Hazel, becomes involved with this program, at the time it was the right decision for most German women helping the fatherland. But, later on after the war, most women are sorry they were involved. She had a few children from a soldier she did not know. They were raised without their mother, in a home and strangers taught them the German way, they were indoctrinated, with strict rules how to be a '"Good German".
If you want to learn more about this, you can see the link above, it is a sad part of German history.
Reba, and her boyfriend Ricki and her early childhood intertwines into the story .The book seemed to parallel lives of each of their pasts. Your past, it will come to catch up with you, and haunt you until you learn to deal, and face, and do something to change it.
I want to warn you, that the copy I received was hard to read, it was a galley, and many misprints. I may not give the book the totally justice it deserves. But, I wrote, to the publisher and she told me she will send me a hard copy. As soon as the hard copy comes, I will do a update on my blog with Baker's Wife.
My Review: I saw this novel, on Goodreads and, it was recommended by Chris Bohjalian, one of my favorite authors. I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. I saw that Edelweiss was looking for reviewers. I was so excited. But, now that I finished reading it, I have to shout and spread the word.
This is a novel, that kept me engrossed. A book that you don't want any interruptions. It kept the midnight oil burning, and you don't want to stop reading no matter what needs to be done, like work, housework, family, life, etc.
After reading a couple of dud in the last few weeks. I was happy to find Baker's Daughter. I don't know if I will find anything that lives up to this one.
The writing style, and prose was so beautifully written for example.
It hadn't taken long for their butter and sugar to come together outside the mixing bowl. For their love to mix together.I thought her story was creativity, and unique. To use a story in Germany, and in present day America, was so different. I was getting annoyed, at times, because the author would switch back and forth, with the different characters, and then build up the momentum. But, I realized that this made you keep flipping the pages, to know what happens. This is a technique by some authors, that can be overused. But, it fit right with this story, to keep flipping the pages.
I loved how the author wrapped up the story and wrote the conclusion. The story was rich in historical detail. I liked that each chapter had dates, and places at the top of each chapter. Also what was interesting was the U. S. Border Patrol's job, and what their job entailed, and the story line of the illegals coming into the country.
The beginning of the novel, we enter the Bakery in El Paso, Tx. I think, the bakery was a important part of the story. I felt that the bakery was character. I loves books, that place becomes the character as well.
The sites, smells of the bakery was delectable, and I wanted to eat it up in the novel. If I could take it out of the pages and transport it while I was reading I would. Included in the back of the book was the recipes of the delectable, German pastries. Sounds so fattening.
The only thing missing, I thought, it would be nice to have detail of the historical events on about the Lebensborn program, and some historical background on illegals from Mexico coming into this country. Myself, I did not know about this, it would be nice to have it added at the end of the book.
The author used many parallel situations, comparing their situations.
Since I have always been a honest book blogger to my readers. The only part I have a problem with. It may just be me. I am sensitive to a story line like this because I am Jewish. The author seemed to try to compare the Holocaust to the illegals crossing the border from Mexico to Texas.
You can't compare the atrocity of the Nazi's to the Border Patrol's job. The U. S Border Patrol's, job is to make sure illegal and destructive activities did not take a foothold in the United States.
The Border patrol are there to protect people and our borders, and laws are imposed to prevent illegal drugs, criminals and terrorists trying to cross our borders. During the Holocaust, the third reich were there to kill anyone that was not of Aryan race.
If anyone would like to comment about this part of the novel, I would like to know if you thought the same. If anyone is a Jewish book blogger especially. I don't mean to offend anyone. But, this is my blog, and my thoughts and my interpretation of Baker's Daughter.
A interview with Sarah, and both of my favorite writers, Lisa See and Chris Bohjalian is written here. This is a interesting interview about the research, and the paralel lines of the story.
I don't think any novel, that I read this year, will live up to this one.