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The Baker's Daughter
"A sensitive, multilayered novel, this is a moving examination of the effect...
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What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

Created: 09/09/12

Replies: 34

Posted Sep. 09, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
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lydiamercer

Join Date: 05/30/12

Posts: 5

What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I found "The Baker's Daughter" to be one of the most satisfying stories I have read in a very long time. Not only was the time line one I have studied for many years, but also the "cooking and baking" thread brought home to me so many memories. The desperate need to resolve our past "demons" resonates clearly to me.

And I must ask....did anyone else break into open and heartfelt sobs at the beginning of Chapter 48? I anticipated this scene but had become so intertwined with the characters that I "felt" this with such intensity.


Posted Sep. 09, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

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RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I really liked the German part of the story - I thought it was well-plotted and the characters were well developed, and I had a real sense of the various ways in which Elsie was pulled by her feelings (or lack thereof) for Josef and Tobias and her family and the situation in which she was placing them by hiding Tobias. But the Texas part of the story did not work for me. It felt tacked on. I thought the interconnections between Reba's story and Elsie's story were poorly developed, so I felt like I was reading two stories, only tangentially related to one another, in the same book. That was frustrating.


Posted Sep. 09, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

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RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I really liked the German part of the story - I thought it was well-plotted and the characters were well developed, and I had a real sense of the various ways in which Elsie was pulled by her feelings (or lack thereof) for Josef and Tobias and her family and the situation in which she was placing them by hiding Tobias. But the Texas part of the story did not work for me. It felt tacked on. I thought the interconnections between Reba's story and Elsie's story were poorly developed, so I felt like I was reading two stories, only tangentially related to one another, in the same book. That was frustrating.


Posted Sep. 09, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
Lynn R

Join Date: 09/08/12

Posts: 8

RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I agree and disagree with laurap. I especially liked the regular people German side of the story. We think if WWII and think only of Nazis. The majority of Germans, the regular people so to say, really didn't believe genocide was happening, many had friends, neighbors & co-workers that were Jewish. When they did realize what was happening it was really to late to protest, they themselves were struck with fear. I think the Germany/Texas relationship was good. Our countries immigration situation has so many sides to it and is causing conflict to many states, especially border states. Although we are not (hopefully) killing the immigrants, there is much resentment and hatred involved. It is a very hard subject to look at only one way.


Posted Sep. 09, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
Suzanne

Join Date: 04/21/11

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RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I found reading the fine "cursive"type used for the letters very tedious. Even the size type used in the book could have been upped a few sizes. But then, I'm no teenager and wear glasses now! I was often confused until I learned the letters and chapters weren't in consecutive order. Basically I guess my main feeling about the book were pretty much my own and physical. Also I felt Reba's sections didn't connect with Elsie's story and it became a fluff story. (Kristen Hannah's writing style comes to mind.) Not sure how much I liked the German names identifying all the pastries--I'll never remember them. I had the feeling the author tried to impress the reader with her research. Lydiamercer: no I didn't cry. I was being too critical to be that absorbed!


Posted Sep. 09, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
Barrabas

Join Date: 04/29/12

Posts: 5

RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I really enjoyed this book. It was a sweet treat for my soul. I know the story is about two women and their respective life journeys, but Elsie's story just melted my heart. What an amazing and courageous woman! I have the utmost respect for people who stand by their convictions no matter what the circumstances. Elsie is my hero, because at the end of it all, her actions made me want to be a better human being.


Posted Sep. 09, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

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RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

Ditto Suzanne on the typeface for the sisters' letters. It's a shame when the physical characteristics of a book interfere with the reading of it.

Lynn R.: I think the immigration story had tremendous potential as a stand-alone. My problem with this book, though, was that the two stories seemed connected to each other only by the fact the characters were in the same bakery on occasion. The characters never seemed to drawn the parallels. While I'm able to do that, in the end I felt like I had read two separate books, switching back and forth between them. And since the German story seemed primary, I felt like the Texas story was there only to give us a location in the present. It might have had a lot of plot value, but the author didn't take advantage of it.


Posted Sep. 09, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
Barrabas

Join Date: 04/29/12

Posts: 5

RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

Lynn R. and laurap: I think that the "German story" and "Immigration story" are interconnected because they are stories about tolerance. Through these two stories, the author is trying to tell us that we are all apart of one race - the human race- and when we can understand and respect each other histories, cultures and customs, the world is a better place.


Posted Sep. 09, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
joyces

Join Date: 06/16/11

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RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

This book got a really good rating in my reading journal. I was not bothered at all by the going back and forth from past to present, nor the differences in the characters lives as I thought they were integral to making each life time more real and believable. Also this style seems to have become pretty common in a lot of books in the past several years and I think I have come to find it quite comfortable. This is one of those stories that deals with really horrific stuff and to follow the characters who lived through it and see them end up in productive and comfortable lives feels really good but in no way mitigates the horror or loss of those that did not survive. Like others I am not sure the change in type for the letters was necessary though. I am a very fast reader and it did slow me down a bit but that may have been a good thing as it probably made me absorb them better.


Posted Sep. 10, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
beckyh

Join Date: 05/08/11

Posts: 41

RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I have read several books lately that jump back and forth in time and/or place. I thought The Baker's Daughter did this quite well -- as long as you remembered to read the time/place at beginning of each chapter! There were only a few times when I found the time/place jump disruptive. Occasionally - especially at emotional points in the story line - the time/place jump was a relief. I actually felt the author was using the jump as a "breather" for emotions.

I too thought the type face for the letters was too small and difficult to read. I read a paperback version and would like someone who read a hard back version to comment, often the two forms have different type size. This might make a real difference.


Posted Sep. 10, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
dorothyt

Join Date: 04/10/11

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RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I enjoyed the book, especially the German section, since I like reading about the people behind the front lines during WWII. I didn't mind the time shifts throughout the book; I don't think the story would have been as suspenseful if all the questions had been answered the way they would have been in a straight chronological format.

No, Lydia, I didn't cry over Elsie's death, although I thought it was sad. What I thought was even sadder is that she never made a connection with Tobias before she died.

I also would have liked to see the script font larger, but that didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the book.


Posted Sep. 11, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
malindan

Join Date: 05/10/12

Posts: 34

RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I agree with Larap. I too really enjoyed the German story but found that I had very little interest in the current story. I didn't find Reba's character to be interesting or even particularly likeable and Riki was even less interesting. I also found the font type and size of the letters to be terribly frustrating and I don't wear glasses. It surprises me that the editors wouldn't have thought it to be a problem. All in all I would give the book a 3.


Posted Sep. 11, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
Beth350

Join Date: 04/15/11

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RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I enjoyed both parts of this novel. I have also read several books (beckyh) that jump from one time period to another and I felt this book did it particularly well. I don't know that it affected me on a deep emotional level, but considering the topic I was relieved about that. I recently read a book that was so graphic in its depiction of violence that I was nearly nauseous and had to walk away from it more than once.

I appreciated the courage of the German women, but also found Reba's character interesting in a less historical way.

I would have to say that I liked this book a great deal.


Posted Sep. 12, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
joanw

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 12

RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I fully enjoyed this book. I do love reading stories re World War II - there are so many varied stories of what happened during that time and the people's struggles to survive. I did not like the typeface for the letters as well. It was very difficul to read them I would definitely recommend this book.


Posted Sep. 12, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
johnw

Join Date: 03/11/12

Posts: 22

RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I believe the writer's style of weaving the story of Elsie's live in Germany during the war back and forth between Reba's and Elsie's current lives in Texas added an interesting dimension to each character and the secrets they held. I am a historical fiction fan so learning more about life in Nazi Germany from the perspective of a German. The story told appeared to be realistic and while painful it addressed very emotional topics. The author was able to convey a strong sense of love and humanity which soften the painful aspects. It clearly projects that no matter how hard you may attempt to forget or run away from your past it is always part of you and these experiences no matter how painful or tragic shape you as a person.


Posted Sep. 13, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
irisf

Join Date: 01/16/12

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RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

Travelling back and forth through time didn't bother me at all and in some ways piqued my interest as I was always eager to get back to the German portion which was more developed than the Texas portion. While it's interesting to see how the common German suffered and found themselves in the grips of a government that they never bargained for, I found the juxtaposition of the current illegal Mexican immigration thought provoking. I think this could make for a very interesting discussion. Being emotionally involved in the Holocaust, I was surprised by my sympathetic reaction to this German family. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in two sittings.


Posted Sep. 13, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
kathleend

Join Date: 09/13/12

Posts: 4

RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

Would have preferred to have read about Elsie, period. I was totally captivated by her early years in Germany and the enigma she became in America. It was easy to feel her pain, desperation and fear as a real flesh and blood person. Whereas, I felt Reba & Riki seems like cardboard characters---something to fill in the American side of the story. I wanted to know more about how Elsie traveled to the US and her life here---all those missing years that the author skipped over. Elsie's story, marrying an American and moving to the US, is plausible. However, Tobias' journey I found less believable. The US was hardly welcoming Jewish families with open arms at that particular time. It felt as though the author was tying up unfinished storylines.


Posted Sep. 13, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
lisag

Join Date: 01/12/12

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RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I agree that the comparison of prejudice against Jews in the Nazi era and prejudice against illegal Mexicans in our current society is an interesting topic. Also a bit of a hot button issue, especially lately. Can we compare genocide to a more generalized prejudice against an ethnic group within a country? Or maybe what she's emphasizing is that's how it starts out - not that I expect America to turn into Nazi Germany. I certainly hope we've learned from the past...


Posted Sep. 14, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
Peggy H

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 38

RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I did think that the two parts were both moving. I was especially drawn to the divided feelings of the characters. To me they were realistic, especially Riki and Josef, who both faced tensions between their feelings and the positions they were in. I thought that Elsie acted older than her age, but that could have been the time. The letters helped create emotion. (I wish they had been in larger print)
Pegh


Pegh
Posted Sep. 15, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
robynr

Join Date: 05/31/12

Posts: 4

RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I completely agree with Laurap. Loved the German part of the story and the Texas part didn't work for me at all. I thought a lot of the dialog was annoying. I found myself skimming the Texas parts so I could get back to Germany. I love a story told through letters. A note to the publisher....the font used for the letters was too small.


Posted Sep. 15, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
adelias

Join Date: 06/15/11

Posts: 1

RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I loved this book; it left me in tears. The back and forth in time was much easier in this book; some keep me confused. I felt there should have been more background on Reba. On my recommendation my book club has selected The Baker's Daughter for our November selection.


Posted Sep. 15, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
dorothyl

Join Date: 04/15/12

Posts: 34

RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I felt very drawn into the German part of the story and not particularly involved with the Reba story. Much of that story seemed contrived to reveal Elsie's story. It could just have been Elsie's story and I would have enjoyed the book more with development of the missing years and her marriage. After reading the book, I tried to find similarities in the two stories to see why they were juxtaposed with each other. The interview ploy seemed a way to tell Elsie's story which could have been told anyway. As a result of the interview (we are never given background as to why Elsie is chosen except that she is an immigrant and businesswoman), Reba does change and evolve. I think the book would have been more compelling if Elsie's story was the only focus and we were not constantly sidetracked by the younger generation and particularly Reba and Riki


Posted Sep. 17, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
marymargaretf

Join Date: 09/05/11

Posts: 18

RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I enjoyed the book and I enjoyed the characters, but I wish that there had been a development of Elsie's life after Germany and before the Reba story. The situation with Tobias was so meaningful and it would have been a great piece to explore; I also felt that I would have liked to have delved into Elsie's marriage.

The German aspect of the book established characters that were well-developed; the part devoted to post-war Germany did not match that intensity. The Texas section did not balance with the first section of the book. I do realize that this would probably point to two books: one focusing on Germany and one targeting Elsie's American life with the inclusion of a relationship with Tobias.

I do not mean to sound critical because I did enjoy the book. Maybe that is why I wanted more.


Posted Sep. 19, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
job

Join Date: 05/12/11

Posts: 10

RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I enjoyed the book very much. The tension built throughout the book which kept up my interest. I enjoyed both story lines but found the jumping back and forth during the war years a little confusing. I did learn some things about issues during WWII that I was not aware of (the program). I particularly enjoyed Elsie's story but felt Reba's was weaker. Thank you for the opportunity to preview this book.


Posted Sep. 21, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
barbarab

Join Date: 04/15/11

Posts: 27

RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I really enjoyed every aspect of this book, but had difficulty with the small print of the letters. I enjoyed all of the characters & was pulling for them all, even Josef, because he had such deep feelings for being responsible for Peter's death. I think he committed suicide because of his remorse, more so then fear of being punished. I also was fascinated by learning something of the Lebensborn Program. I had vaguely heard about it before & I did research on it. I also found it interesting that Lillian did her thesis on the program & wondering when she found out that she was part of the program.
I think this book would make a great book club selection, so much to discuss.


Posted Sep. 23, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
marganna

Join Date: 10/14/11

Posts: 23

RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

Thank you all who mentioned the Type/font selections. I wear glasses and read small print on my iPhone all the time but this cursive tiny print almost made me put the book aside. I checked to see how many letters there were and decided I could read it. I'm glad I did! However, I have many friends that I cannot recommend this book to in this current format - they could not read the print. Too bad - hope that gets corrected and fast!!!

As to the book / story - I loved it. I am not inclined to read stories of Nazi Germany as they depress me very much. I found this book surprisingly enlightened - sad, yet filled with hope. Maybe the Reba story helped me get through the awful realizations that yes, these things did happen! I knew Elsie survived and I wanted to know the rest of her story. Reba provided a believable way to get her story. It was fitting for Riki to be on the Border Patrol. Too much of a coincidence - maybe but in El Paso - believable.

I think the Reba part was a bit weaker then the Elsie part but look at the setting & time. Hard to make Reba's story as compelling. However I never once needed to skim through Reba's part. I've skimmed many other books using this technique. The letters between sisters was totally effective - showed more of life during those years.

I loved Elsie, her family, Tobias and the town folks coming to the bakery. Josef could be seen as a good man - he was tormented to death by his evil deeds. He was certainly not one-dimensional & hated by me, the reader. I saw more of a connection in story line with Josef & Riki than the women. Reba was just lost & struggling. Elsie knew her role & was doing it as best she could - her decision to give up Tobias in order to save herself & family was the only thing she could do. And yet, they would have all died if the Americans had not come at that moment. As many books do - this one also collapsed in the end - but kinda had to. The story was getting Elsie through the war years - and the telling of that story through Reba. The post war years, her marriage & getting El Paso were summed up a bit too tidy but author Sarah McCoy did such a wonderful job with the story she told.

I cried at the end - not so much at Elsie's funeral but for the ending of a good book with lots of emotional tugs of heart for the rose-colored glasses ending. I liked that. Yes, convenient loose ends being tied up but I did not feel manipulated by the author. She got her points across with a good story that allowed the reader to feel good about some of the resolutions. It was believable and ended well.

Change the font/type! my only real criticism !


Posted Sep. 29, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
susank

Join Date: 06/28/11

Posts: 7

RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I really enjoyed the multiple story lines, but the tiny print of the letters was irksome. The WWII sections were more interesting to me; I kept hoping to hear about Tobias's fate in particular. The least interesting character, to me, was Reba; don't know how the author could have made her more interesting, but then, I'm not a writer. She was quite successful, considering how many balls she was juggling writing this story! Basically, I felt I was reading a book about Germany in WWII; the present day events were less important to me, and, I believe, to the author. Why she left out so much of Elsie's life is kind of a puzzle, and Jane seems to have known very little about her own mother - weird.


Posted Sep. 29, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
eileenh

Join Date: 05/13/11

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RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

I felt sympathy for Elsie as a young girl during WWII and empathy for Josef who I felt was basically a good man, caught between loyalty to his country and his better instincts that something was greatly amiss with the Nazi government. I didn't feel as engaged with the current characters.


Posted Sep. 30, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
bettyt

Join Date: 05/12/11

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RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

The Elsie/Tobias story really grabbed me. I really felt for the conflicts that Elsie had to deal with. I also enjoyed the Jane/Sergio storyline. But the Reba/Rikki storyline was, for me, very weak and a bit contrived. Rikki's situation, I felt, was better suited to the story, but I just never felt connected to Reba.


Posted Sep. 30, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
bettyt

Join Date: 05/12/11

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RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

BTW, my book club is meeting on this one today.


Posted Oct. 01, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

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RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

Hi BettyT - would love to know what your book club think of the book!


Posted Oct. 01, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
bettyt

Join Date: 05/12/11

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RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

Hi Davina -- My book club is primarily a Jewish group. In fact, all those that attended Sunday were Jewish ladies. Everyone LOVED the book. We enjoyed reading about what life was like during that time for the average German family. Everyone agreed that the book was really well written. We always enjoy strong female characters so Elsie was loved. This was a young girl that fortunately had a skill and used it to her advantage. She got the job with the Americans and came to the US at a time when Germans were not all that well received. But she became a well-loved member of her community. We went nearly two hours talking about this book!


Posted Oct. 02, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

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RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

Hi Betty, certainly sounds like a winning discussion - thanks so much for sharing your book club's experience!


Posted Oct. 13, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
beckyh

Join Date: 05/08/11

Posts: 41

RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

It has been over a month now since I read this book. I still think about Hazel and how difficult it must have been for her to give away her children to a cause she no longer believed in and how sad she must have been when her beloved died and left her in that untenable situation. I remember Reba as unable to grow beyond her feelings of inadequacy until she met someone as needy as herself and their journey together. I think she and Riki finally found self worth and fulfillment in a new life. I remember Elsie who was much stronger than anyone gave her credit for. I tried the recipes which were as wonderful as the book. My favorites were the Brotchen (a simple, easy to make roll) and the Schwartzwalder Kirschtorte (a delicious, wonderful cake well worth the time and trouble!).


Posted Oct. 22, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
lisag

Join Date: 01/12/12

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RE: What was your overall feeling of the book? Did you experience strong emotions while reading?

It seems a lot of people disliked the font used for the letters. I also found it more difficult to read than the regular print.

The older I get the more closely I examine a book's print before I buy it. That never used to be a problem! Electronic readers are an advantage in that way as you can adjust the font size and change the color, as well. When I read at night I use a white font on a black background, which emits less light and doesn't bother my husband. During the day I can switch but I'm used to it the other way around now.


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