From the critically acclaimed author of The Hummingbird and The Curiosity comes a dazzling novel of World War II—a shimmering tale of courage, determination, optimism, and the resilience of the human spirit, set in a small Normandy village on the eve of D-Day
On June 5, 1944, as dawn rises over a small town on the Normandy coast of France, Emmanuelle is making the bread that has sustained her fellow villagers in the dark days since the Germans invaded her country.
Only twenty-two, Emma learned to bake at the side of a master, Ezra Kuchen, the village baker since before she was born. Apprenticed to Ezra at thirteen, Emma watched with shame and anger as her kind mentor was forced to wear the six-pointed yellow star on his clothing. She was likewise powerless to help when they pulled Ezra from his shop at gunpoint, the first of many villagers stolen away and never seen again.
But in the years that her sleepy coastal village has suffered under the enemy, Emma has silently, stealthily fought back. Each day, she receives an extra ration of flour to bake a dozen baguettes for the occupying troops. And each day, she mixes that precious flour with ground straw to create enough dough for two extra loaves—contraband bread she shares with the hungry villagers. Under the cold, watchful eyes of armed soldiers, she builds a clandestine network of barter and trade that she and the villagers use to thwart their occupiers.
But her gift to the village is more than these few crusty loaves. Emma gives the people a taste of hope—the faith that one day the Allies will arrive to save them. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)
This book takes places during WWII portraying the day-to-day life of the occupied forces. I absolutely love Emma’s practical down-to-Earth view as she tries to make it day by day. One of the things that has been a struggle about other historical novels are that they’re always about the heros. In this case, Emma doesn’t want to be involved and is somewhat of a begrudging hero. She does what she thinks she must, one step at a time.
The book surprised me with twists and turns. Just when I thought I had a sense of where things were going, things changed again. I’m not sure the book has a traditional plot line, yet I found the read highly enjoyable and would certainly recommend it.
Warning: Contains repeated violence and scenes of war.
Rating: 4 stars!
Who should read it? Fans of historical novels and unlikely stories.