On the coast of Normandy, the people of Vergers are trying their best to go on with their everyday lives. Since the German occupation, everyone has simply been doing their best to survive by any means necessary. For Emmanuelle, this means continuing to bake her bread; however, it is no longer the joyful task it once was. Emma was apprenticed to Ezra Kuchen, the village baker when she was 13. Since the Germans came, she watched her mentor forced to wear a yellow star and later dragged away. Emma is the only one in town left to bake and is commanded to do so for the occupying army. Forced to bake for the soldiers while she watches those around her starve, Emma decides that she will stretch her extra rations to make 14 loaves instead of the desired 12 for the Germans. She stretches her resources by adding finely ground straw to the recipe. While taking her covert bread to those who need it most, Emma is asked if she could find other things: eggs, gasoline, light bulbs, for the townspeople. So begins Emma's unintentional Resistance to keep the town alive and hopeful until help arrives.
The Baker's Secret is an extraordinary book that shows the effect of an occupation on a small town during WWII. The beautiful writing clearly conveys the struggle, the intense emotional state of the people and the beauty of the area. I could easily imagine Emma's baking shed, the coastline and the church. More importantly, The Baker's Secret impressed upon me the importance of one person during the times of struggle. Emma's perseverance and ingenuity saved lives and gave her town hope. Another aspect highlighted was the choices people will make in order to stay alive, some will paint "V's" on a tree in order to tirelessly annoy the occupying troops, some will use their beauty to take up with the enemy, some will turn in their neighbors, some will bake extra bread, some will join the Resistance and risk their lives smuggling ammo. listening in to German conversation and counting paces. With the Resistance the importance of every person's actions put together was highlighted. I thought it was especially important that the people who everyone believed were inconsequential, those who have been outcast, or with disabilities were able to do the most because they went unseen. These characters weren't even called their true names, going by The Goat and Monkey Boy, they were as big of heros as Emma. Lastly, it was very interesting to see the D-Day invasion through the eyes of the townspeople, it is what they hoped for for so long but happened very differently than they imagined. Overall, a tremendous story of courage, strength and hope of a town during WWII.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.