Jan 7, 2015

The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy

This is a book that I heard about when it was first published, and then attention lingered around it as it appeared on the New York Times Bestseller list. I am a sucker for historical fiction, especially WWII, and grabbed a copy that lingered in my life until I could get to it.

I wish I had got to it sooner.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
In 1945, Elsie Schmidt is a naive teenager, as eager for her first sip of champagne as she is for her first kiss. She and her family have been protected from the worst of the terror and desperation overtaking her country by a high-ranking Nazi who wishes to marry her. So when an escaped Jewish boy arrives on Elsie’s doorstep in the dead of night on Christmas Eve, Elsie understands that opening the door would put all she loves in danger.

Sixty years later, in El Paso, Texas, Reba Adams is trying to file a feel-good Christmas piece for the local magazine. Reba is perpetually on the run from memories of a turbulent childhood, but she’s been in El Paso long enough to get a full-time job and a fiancé, Riki Chavez. Riki, an agent with the U.S. Border Patrol, finds comfort in strict rules and regulations, whereas Reba feels that lines are often blurred.

Reba’s latest assignment has brought her to the shop of an elderly baker across town. The interview should take a few hours at most, but the owner of Elsie’s German Bakery is no easy subject. Reba finds herself returning to the bakery again and again, anxious to find the heart of the story. For Elsie, Reba’s questions are a stinging reminder of darker times: her life in Germany during that last bleak year of WWII. And as Elsie, Reba, and Riki’s lives become more intertwined, all are forced to confront the uncomfortable truths of the past and seek out the courage to forgive.

Oh. My. Word.
The voice in this novel captured my attention immediately. I loved Reba, for the strong woman she pretended to be, and the vulnerable, incomplete woman she really was. The southern feel of the modern setting came through with strength but not overpowering.

And then there is Elsie, the way she had a quiet spirit, the complications of her situation. Sometimes, with dual narrative stories, there is one voice and story line that is more compelling than the other. I found, while I was happy reading the progression of each woman's story, I always wanted to know how the other's would be completed. There is spirit in both of these women, but in different ways. I also adored that the reader gets to see Elsie after, but McCoy does a great job of not telling us how she gets there.

McCoy has a new book coming out this year. I will buy it.

Have you read The Baker's Daughter? Do you have other dual time period novels you love?