Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy

I've got a good read for you and your book club. 

Sarah McCoy has written a wonderful new book called The Baker's Daughter, set in two different time periods: the first in Nazi Germany in 1944 and the other in El Paso, Texas in 2007. The title refers to the book's heroine, Elsie Schmidt, a young baker's daughter from a small town in Germany. 

The Baker's Daughter has received blurbs from Tatiana de Rosnay (author of Sarah's Key) and Jenna Blum (Those Who Save Us) -- both of which have been hugely popular with area book clubs.

The title character from The Baker's Daughter is only 17 years old, and she's caught in the middle of the tensions in wartime Germany. Although Elsie has accepted an engagement ring from a Nazi lieutenant, she's not sure how she feels about him. She witnesses a tragic event with a small Jewish boy on Christmas Eve, and makes a brave choice that threatens the safety of her entire family.

Sixty years later, a young female journalist named Reba Adams is assigned to interview Elise, who by then is the elderly owner of Elsie's German Bakery in El Paso, Texas. Reba is faced with a complicated past of her own, along with difficult choices for her future, and finds she just can't stay away from Elsie's inviting bakery. The baking is just so good.

The Baker's Daughter includes a fascinating side story about the Lebensborn Program of Nazi Germany, in which "racially pure" German women were encouraged to sleep with SS officers in order to create what the Nazis thought would be a perfect Aryan race. The children born to the Lebensborn mothers were then raised in a special nursery sponsored by the Nazi regime. Elsie's sister has been invited to participate in this program, and at first the family views it as something of an honor. Only later do they come to understand the true horror of the plan.

Sarah McCoy writes with a gentle hand as she imagines the tragedy of life in a small German town during the Nazi's reign of terror. Sarah McCoy finds a way to honor the lives and choices of the everyday Germans who did their best with what they had, sometimes risking everything to do the right thing. At the same time, the storyline set in modern-day Texas makes us realize that the issues of racism and exclusion are still a factor in current immigration debates. I think this book has all the makings for a very thoughtful book club discussion.

And not to be missed? The mouth-watering recipes at the back of the book from "Elsie's German Bakery" -- a sure-fire hit with the book club.

Highly recommended! Available now in hardcover or as an e-book from The Bookstore's website. Our e-books are compatible with every e-reading device except the Kindle, a proprietary device made by Amazon.

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