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The baker's secret
2017
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Summary

From the 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 village in Normandy on the eve of D-Day

On June 5, 1944, as dawn rises over a small town on France's Normandy coast, Emmanuelle is baking 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. Apprenticed to Ezra at thirteen, Emma watched with shame and anger as her mentor was forced to wear the six-pointed yellow star on his clothing. She was powerless to help when Ezra was pulled 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 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. Stephen P. Kiernan paints a brilliant and vivid tableau of humanity during one of the most harrowing points of modern history.

Trade Reviews
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* By June fourth of 1944, Emma and her fellow villagers on the Normandy coast have known German occupation for years. The army takes the lion's share of whatever is available, leaving the people hungry and wanting, and an atmosphere of despair has settled over the town. Emma was still a young woman when the Germans came and when she watched as they killed the kind Jewish baker to whom she was apprenticed. From that time forward, Emma has kept her head down, baking only the bread she is ordered to provide to the German officers, until a day when her ingenuity and fighting spirit lead her down a different path. Taciturn and full of dread, Emma manages to bring hope to her townspeople, finding solutions to their needs and delivering food to the starving and wish-list items to the downhearted. But even while helping others, Emma feels only a stubborn nihilism, wondering why she even bothers when there is no sign of relief on the horizon. Kiernan (The Hummingbird, 2015) invites readers to fully connect with his depressed and stoic heroine in this beautifully written account of the emotional and moral struggles of a people gripped by fear in the depths of WWII.--Ophoff, Cortney Copyright 2017 Booklist
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