Book Review: The Baker*s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan


"In a time of humiliation, the only dignified answer is cunning." (6)


Title: The Baker's Secret
Author: Stephen P. Kiernan
Publisher:  William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins
Release Date:  May 2, 2017
Genre:  Historical Fiction



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.



I can't. The Baker's Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan depicts a time of war, not specifically what's in the battlefield, but the collateral damage of it. The times when ration is common, brutality by those that have a tiny hint of defiance and the quiet strength of resiliency of those that dare make a stand. I can't. I can't hold back the disgust of atrocity towards people, the admiration of bravery by those that fought, both in the forefront, as well as in the quiet alleys, and the heartache of the lost of self and of lives. This book spoke volumes, even when the story is mainly focused on Emma, and her quiet, yet active indignation and resistance even amidst loss.

The words of The Baker's Secret have this way of seeping a visual image, as well as a emotional attachment to the events of the day. Extraordinaire in its execution, hopeful in its message and mindful of historical details, The Baker's Secret will be one you'll likely recommend to fellow readers. There's a glimmer of light through the pages, and there's the meaning of sacrifice that will tug on every soul.

"It was so humbling. . . the weight of their sacrifice might crush her. Here they had died, and up the beach they were still dying, in flocks and willingly for the idea that she, Emma herself, and her friends and family and neighbors, ought to live in freedom. Who on earth deserved such a gift?" (288)


For my clean readers, please note there are minor heavy language such as name calling and violence in this book.



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.

For my review policy, please see my Disclosure page.


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Stephen P. Kiernan is a graduate of Middlebury College, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. During his more than twenty years as a journalist, he has won numerous awards, including the Brechner Center’s Freedom of Information Award, the Scripps Howard Award for Distinguished Service to the First Amendment, and the George Polk Award. He is the author of The Curiosity, his first novel, and two nonfiction books. He lives in Vermont with his two sons.



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2 comments:

  1. That strand of hope that is laced throughout the book is what makes the darkness of the time period palatable to me. I'm so looking forward to reading this one!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

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    1. Completely agree Heather! Thanks for stopping by!

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