In 1945, Elsie Schmidt was a naive teenager, as eager for her first sip of champagne as she was 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 can often be 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.
I’ve affectionately dubbed 2012 as my Summer of Reading Historically. At least 80% of my summer reading turned out be historical novels. It’s not surprising – I love history, I love literature, and when the two come together in a well-crafted and interesting story, I’m there.
The Baker’s Daughter certainly fit all my criteria. I loved the way Sarah McCoy wove the Elsie and Reba’s stories together in the present day, while periodically whisking the reader back to Nazi Germany to fill us in on Elsie’s past.
And most of all, I loved the way she brought all the elements of the story together and created satisfying endings all around.
I finished the book about a month ago, and have since loaned it to several nearby friends, while recommending it to many more online.
If you’re thinking of making Autumn 2012 your Season of Reading Historically, you won’t find a better place to start.
Thanks to TLC Tours for the opportunity to read this wonderful novel.