“She paused momentarily at the girl’s room, hand on the knob, and leaned an ear to the door. A light snore trembled through the wood, and she matched her breath to it. If only she could halt the seasons, forget the past and present, turn the handle and climb in beside her like old times. But she could not forget. Her secret pulled her away…”
Sarah McCoy, The Baker’s Daughter
The Baker’s Daughter, by Sarah McCoy, was released in January of this year and is 304 pages. I met Sarah in October at a writer’s retreat hosted by Kristina McMorris, and bought the book while at a signing at One More Page Books in Arlington, VA. Sarah is one of the sweetest, kindest writers I know, so I was thrilled that I loved her novel. (And just in case you think my review is biased, I also bought the book for my sister-in-law and mother-in-law, who each read it in two days, and can’t stop raving about it.)
Set in present day El Paso, Texas and Nazi Germany, The Baker’s Daughter is the story of two women with unresolved pasts full of shame and secrets. The day that Reba, a newspaper reporter with a fiancee to whom she cannot commit, walks into Elsie Meriwether’s German Bakery, both women and their loved ones begin an unexpected journey through past memories that leads to present day redemption.
Reba has been running away her entire life, trying to escape the sins of her father–a troubled Vietnam war vet. When her running takes her an entire coast away from all that she loves, she is forced to evaluate what she wants out of life and what prevents her from claiming it. Her fiancee, Riki, faces his own demons as a conflicted border patrol agent, and a tragedy forces him to reevaluate everything he thinks he stands for.
While Reba interviews elderly baker, Elsie Meriwether, and her daughter Jane, Elsie is unable to hide from painful memories from her past in Garmisch, Germany, where she lived when the Nazis were in power during the second World War. As a young girl, Elsie had initially supported Germany, but as the war progressed and Elsie began to understand the atrocities committed by the Nazis, a young Jewish boy arrived at her door giving her an opportunity for redemption.
I could hardly put down The Baker’s Daughter. The vivid prose, fascinating characters, and suspenseful plot kept me turning pages long past my bed time. The present and the past are interwoven seamlessly, and I found myself reading as fast as I could to find out what happened in each time, though I loved reading both time periods equally.
The Baker’s Daughter gave me a chilling glimpse into the world of the Nazis that I’d never before seen. I had no idea about the Lebensborn Program, where Nazis provided top notch health care and education to women and children of Nazi soldiers who fit their criteria for race, and which was, according to some sources, an Aryan breeding program. It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how much I think I know about WWII, there is always a new and unexplored angle.
The Baker’s Daughter would make a perfect book club pick. The layered plot lines, unique settings, controversial topics, and authentic characters would make for stimulating discussion, and the recipes at the back of the book would provide readers with a tasty way to connect to the characters and the subject matter.
If you love well written, thought-provoking historical fiction, you simply must read The Baker’s Daughter. If you do, I’d love to hear what you think.