Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Baker's Secret by Stephen Kiernan

In a Nutshell: Vergers is a coastal French village occupied by Nazis who are using the beaches to fortify their claim over much of Europe.  Emmanuelle is a baker with no bakery, a girl alone with her grandmother whose mind is slipping, who ends up sustaining a village in shortage by her wits and an uncanny ability to reallocate sparse resources and secret favors to those who need them most.  The only thing Emma is short on is a little hope for herself, but a little hope might surprise her when she least expects it.

The Good:  A rich community of characters, a beautiful depiction of provincial France, the French perspective on a major World War II turning point, a writing style that makes France during the Nazi occupation seem somehow fairy tale-esque. 

The Bad:  Needs more exposition.  In a book full of “are things as they seem?” with the small and large acts of resistance from the occupied villagers, I was dying for a little more “this is the rest of the story on X character.” 

The Verdict: I like Stephen Kiernan’s books, enough to give them four stars on Goodreads, but there’s always just a little something missing that keeps me from all-out loving them.  I loved all the parts of this book but, as a whole, it just falls the tiniest bit short.  That said, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend The Baker’s Secret. It’s a welcome addition to the World War II historical fiction genre I love so much.
Review copy received from the publisher.


  1. I know what you mean about books like that but I still enjoy them.

  2. I really loved his The Hummingbird. And I enjoyed The Curiosity, although I didn't love it. I'm looking forward to this one. It'll be interesting to see if I have the same issue with it as you.

  3. I hadn't heard of this one but a look of the German occupation in France that's not all dismal and bleek sounds good to me.

  4. This definitely sounds like a book I would like. I'm going to stick it on my never-ending Goodreads TBR list, which means I should get to it in about, oh, 2080 :)