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The Baker's Secret

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  14,104 ratings  ·  1,672 reviews
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 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 tha
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by William Morrow
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Kelly Whitaker I second "The Nightingale" and "Lilac Girls." Both were excellent. I love this genre and those books PLUS "SARAHS KEY" is fantastic. EDIT: I'm adding …moreI second "The Nightingale" and "Lilac Girls." Both were excellent. I love this genre and those books PLUS "SARAHS KEY" is fantastic. EDIT: I'm adding Ronald Balson's "Once we were Brothers and "Karolina's Twins" to this list. And - Salt to the Sea!(less)
Kathy I'm afraid that understanding conditions in occupied France - as well as many other countries - during World War II is the problem behind your questio…moreI'm afraid that understanding conditions in occupied France - as well as many other countries - during World War II is the problem behind your question. I'll leave you to decide whether you want to learn about that or not, but she wasn't selling anything during the majority of the book. She was given the ingredients by the German officers to bake for the Germans. She also wasn't Jewish - all the Jews had been killed or sent to camps. She was Catholic, which is mentioned many times.(less)

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Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
3.5 stars. This was a heartbreaking WWII story revolving around Emmanuelle “Emma”, a young baker who is forced to supply daily loaves of bread to the Nazi officers occupying her small French village.

While I enjoyed this novel, I felt that there was nothing that made it stand out from the several other WWII novels that I have read. There seems to be an influx of WWII novels being written over the last while and it takes an extremely strong storyline along with exceptional writing to stand out fro
Diane S ☔
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
IT IS June, 1944 and this small village in Normandy is under the occupation of German forces. Many have been shot or taken prisoner, but many are left alive, their services integral for the German such person is 22 year old Emma, once the Baker's assistant, she is now responsible for baking the baguettes a high ranking German officer finds he cannot do without.

Emma no longer believes in her faith, nor does she have any belief that the allied forces will come to the rescue. With that
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

THE BAKER’S SECRET takes us to a small village in Normandy during WWII. We follow Emma, her family, and the village as they live under the restraints of German occupation. The village citizens work together to stay alive and to help each other.

Emma is a very strong female character that you can't help but sympathize with and fall in love with. She is someone you would love to have had in your village during WWII.

Emma's strength and subtle resistance to the Germans was amazing. Emma knew how to b
Jul 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I’m always a bit suspicious of novels that on the one hand deal with a historic event but on the other invent a location to set the story in. You sometimes feel this is an easy way of both bypassing research and taking poetic licence to an excessive extreme. For example I’m not sure All the Light We Cannot See would have been quite so bewitching had it been set not in Saint-Malo but instead in a made up town. The backdrop of Saint-Malo gave Doerr’s book a solid foundation against which he could ...more
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-borrowed
Here was the war's strangest lesson yet. All sorts of people -friends and family, yes,but also adversaries and annoyances - all kinds had died. As they left behind everything, work and home and habits and opinions and even hidden chickens, somehow Emma's heart broke for all of them, including the ones she couldn't bear. Somehow their dying made them unhateable.

Well, this was truly not a typical WWII fiction and by that I mean, our protagonist Emmanuelle (Emma) is not the typical type of heroin
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Emma has learned how to bake bread, pastries, cakes and the most beautiful creations trained by her critical mentor, Ezra. Ezra has been the village baker since before she was born. She is forced to watch him wear the six-pointed star of David by the German occupiers of her coastal Normandy village. The Nazi kommandant notices the bakery and commands Emma to bring him 12 loaves of bread every day. His men bring her the flour and other ingredients used to make the bread. In order to help feed as ...more
The Baker’s Secret is about the experiences of a Normandy village under the Nazis. It aspires to be a kind of fable and its whimsical chatty tone (not quite of the “dear reader” variety but not far off) irritated me until I got used to it. I was suspicious that the author was trying to cash in on the success of The Book Thief and All the Light We cannot See – world war two as adult fairy story. All the characters are both larger and smaller than life – ordinary people who have been given an exag ...more
Aug 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
3.5 war torn stars

Can we, living in a country that is free and enjoying that freedom ever really comprehend the terror, the hardship, and the awfulness of having a world war come to your door? For Emma and the people who lived in this coastal town off the Normandy coast, this was their life, a life described in the book The Baker's Secret.

Having read many books revolving around the theme of war, I am constantly amazed by the resiliency of the people who lived during that time. This story of Emma
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, historical
A young girl fights daily to survive the nightmare of Nazi occupation in Normandy. Along with her survival she fights for the survival of her fellow villagers. A heroic daily battle by someone who never thinks of herself as a heroine, just as a survivor. The author takes you on Emma's journey getting to know many of the villagers as they all struggle to survive the oppression. You feel as if you were walking beside her, feeling her constant fatigue, her constant hunger. This book will remain in ...more
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii
I read a lot of WWII fiction and this is one of the best that I've read that concentrates on the suffering of a small town in France during the occupation. The people in the town don't have any real idea of what is going on in the big picture of the war, they mainly know how it is affecting them to have German troops occupying their town and ruling their lives.

The novel takes place in the village of Vergers, a small village in France about a mile from the ocean and centers around the town baker,
It is amazing, just how much the human spirit can take during horrific times such as war and enemy violation/oppression, and yet, not only survive, but transform into a better person because of it. Sometimes the most unqualified souls become merciful yet tenacious, humble heroes.

This is the story of one such young lady: a baker's apprentice; who, like bread, rises in the heat of oppression, transforming inwardly and outwardly, quietly sustaining the lives of those who partake in her offerings.
Fred Shaw
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan

Imagine living 5 Km/3 miles from the Normandy Beaches that will, unbeknownst to you, be the location for the Allied invasion, and the beginning of the end to WWII. In a small French village named Vergers, it is spring, 1944, and the occupying German army is wreaking havoc on the locals. You have seen your neighbor’s husband executed in cold blood and then several soldiers grab the new widow, take her into a barn and rape her repeatedly. Yet every day you g
Cindy Burnett
Apr 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edelweiss
There are many stories still to be told about World War 2, and I love to read as many of them as I can. The Baker’s Secret ranks at the top of my list of books about this era along with Jillian Cantor’s The Lost Letter (out in June 2017). Stephen Kiernan’s writing is beautiful and magical, and his characters are authentic and brave beyond words. The story takes place in Vergers, a French town on the Normandy coast on the eve of D-Day. The town is occupied by the Nazis who have beaten down the to ...more
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heartbreaking and inspiring. A beautifully written read that's exceptionally moving.
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well written book about the human capacity to survive under the worst conditions.

When the Nazis occupy the village of Vergers on the Normandy coast, they force the residents to undergo unimaginable hardships. After her mentor, a Jewish baker, is murdered, 22 year old Emma is forced to bake bread for her occupiers. In order to stretch her flour rations, she bakes ground hay into their loaves, and gives the extra bread to some of the villagers. Soon a bartering system has been set up th
Stephanie Anze
Oct 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Emanuelle was thirteen when she began her apprenticeship with Ezra, the village's baker. Til the Germans took over, it was almost an idylic existance. Because Ezra was Jewish, he was eventually killed by the Nazis. Thus, Emma becomes the main baker and catches the Germans attention. She is ordered to bake twelve loaves of bread for the Nazi officers stationed in her French village every morning. She manages to make fourteen by mixing ground hay with the flour and distributes the two extra loaves ...more
Lisa Hunt
Jun 22, 2017 rated it liked it
It looks like I'm a little bit of an outlier on this one...I liked it okay, but didn't love it. In my opinion there are SO many great WWII historical fiction books out there and this one didn't stand out to me. I really loved the setting, the small village on the Normandy coast just before the D-Day invasion. The villagers were just beaten down, barely trying to survive, and some of them had hope that the Allies would rescue them and some thought it would never happen. I liked that part of it, k ...more
Erika Robuck
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Emmanuelle is bitter. The traumas she suffers and witnesses age her beyond her twenty-two years. The war is consuming everything and everyone she loves, and she has lost all hope that the Allies will help. And yet…

Her youth and her intelligence call her to action. One small act of defiance (adding a bit of ground straw to her flour rations as town baker) allows her to increase her yield from twelve to fourteen loaves–enough bread to satisfy the demands of the Nazi occupiers, with two left over t
Linda Jung
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Slow descriptive novel - I just couldn't get into the characters - in fact never connected with any of them. This book bored me. Especially after all the beautiful reviews, i was sorely disappointed.
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. A story of German occupied Village during WWII, and the courage of those French Village People.
The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan was better than three starts, but not quite 4. So I will go with 3.5 ***1/2. Truth be told the only reason I picked up the audiobook, well narrated by Cassandra Campbell, was because it said that it was set in a small Normandy village on the eve of D-Day. I will soon be taking a tour of Normandy, so, I thought, Voilà! I don’t believe Normandy was ever mentioned in the novel, nor were any of the famous battles that took place there. Instead it was a slice ...more
Set in Verges, France during World War II. The majority of the plot occurs on June 5, 1944, one day before D-day. The village is poised near the coastline. Gradually over time, the Jews have disappeared, including Uncle Ezra, who taught Emma our protagonist how to bake. Then, most of the men were conscripted to work for the Nazi's. The village is populated by women and old men and a few surviving animals.

The Nazi's confiscate all the fisherman's catch, all of the farmers' harvest, and all of th
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Here I go again...back to WWII. Truthfully, I must learn to "never say never". While I have felt rather inundated with WWII stories, I just keep on reading them. I do take some consistent breaks, but overwhelmingly, they sneak into my currently reading materials and then I proclaim yet again that I am "ready for a break".

I began this novel very optimistic. The writing is is lyrical...descriptive...and fresh. I found myself rereading passages and looking forward to returning to this
Bridget Vollmer
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 he
Carrie Schmidt (Reading is My SuperPower)
The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan shines a spotlight on the resilience of humanity amid the brutality of war. At times it’s tempting to look away, to ignore the rawness of survival, to pause the bleak hopelessness that clouds Emma’s life. It’s painful to see the abuses of the church’s Monsignor – a man who should, by his very job description, be the source of hope and integrity in the occupied village. The honesty is graphic in places, discreet in others, and in every aspect of the story ...more
Absorbing. Heart-wrenching. Eloquent. This novel describes a time period when the folks in a small French village are oppressed by invaders, betrayed by collaborators, beaten & beaten down & treated like animals. Though the strong ones who resist and try to stand for right are killed & shipped off first, they do inspire those left behind. So the story focuses on the overlooked ones---the women, children, weak & elderly---who rise above fear & selfishness to help each other survive and maybe comm ...more
Nov 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
The Baker has a Big Secret! What can it be? Is it a devastating Secret? Is it a dangerous Secret? Is it a Secret one would die for? Is it a Secret that will save a loved one? What is this Secret that's so profound it's marked in the title? Are you ready? Are you sitting down? The Baker has a Secret...she sprinkles a little ground hay into her batter so she can make 14 baguettes instead of 12. Pick yourself up off the floor. I know that was a doozy! Hope I didn't ruin the book for you with that a ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. "The Baker's Secret" is the story of Emma, a woman who lives in a small town in Normandy, France in the 1940s. Her town would be idyllic if it weren't for the Nazis that have occupied the town and turned everything upside down. The villagers often feel like they don't have a lot of recourse or ways to show their displeasure. Emma does it in small ways as she and the rest of the villagers are waiting for the allies to come.

Emma is a fantastic character. Even though her messing with the
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-books, 2020-read
Reread this for my book group (we had read The Curiosity for our March meeting, the last time we met face to face) and Stephen P. Kiernan is becoming a favorite author of the group. I had the pleasure of meeting him at Booktopia way back when and he immediately became a personal favorite author. I loved this even more the second time around.

Thanks to Goodreads, First Reads for my ARC of The Baker's Secret. Stephen P. Kiernan sets his story in a small French village in the Spring of 1944. The vil
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When a quaint village on the northern coast of France is occupied by the German army, a young baker named Emma is ordered to provide the soldiers with a daily supply of her delicious baguettes. But when she secretly begins to siphon off enough dough to feed her fellow villagers, she gambles with her life to give her neighbors a sliver of hope.

With its moral dilemmas, charming setting, personal perspectives of the war, enchanting language, and message of courage, this character-driven novel has a
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Stephen P. Kiernan's new novel, UNIVERSE OF TWO, comes out August 4.

This novel is a love story set in 1944, amid the development of the atomic bomb. Charlie is a young math whiz drafted into the Manhattan Project, where his tasks require him to ignore his moral qualms. His sweetheart Brenda, prohibited for security reasons from knowing what he's doing, sees these ethical hesitations as weakness,

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“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  Theodor Geisel said...
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“No deception lasts forever. Truth rises like good bread dough.” 4 likes
“Fear, they learned, did not live in the heart or mind. It inhabited the stomach like a bad oyster. There was nothing to do but endure it.” 2 likes
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