Excerpt from The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Discuss |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Baker's Daughter

A Novel

by Sarah McCoy

The Baker's Daughter
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2012, 304 pages
    Aug 2012, 304 pages

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

She scooted farther beneath the countertop, crumpling the paper into her lap and hugging the iron pot that stank of yesterday’s stewed onions. She waited for the flame to curl upright and steady, staring so hard that her eyes began to burn. She closed them for relief and saw scenes like old photographs: girls with matching bows at the end of plaited pigtails sitting beneath a fruit tree; a boy with limbs so thin they looked like bent reeds on the river’s edge; a man with a face marred by shadows swallowing chocolate that oozed out a hole in his chest; a woman dancing in a bonfire without smoldering; crowds of children eating mountains of bread.

When she opened her eyes, the flame had gone out. The black of night was lifting to velvet blue. She’d fallen asleep in the hiding place. But morning was coming, and it would no longer be safe. She crawled out, bones creaking and popping.

She carried the letter with her, hidden in the flimsy folds of her nightgown, and once more took the steps on tiptoe, past the girl’s room; through her bedroom door, she slipped back beneath the covers; her husband abided in dreamlessness. Slowly and with great precision, she reached around the bedside and pushed the paper beneath the mattress, then rested her hand on her chest.

Her heart felt foreign, as if someone else’s thudded within, moving ceremoniously, while the rest of her lay numb and cold. The clock ticked on the bedside table — tick, tick, tick without the tock of the pendulum swing. Her heartbeat filled the balancing pulse. In her mind, she read the letter’s words to the rhythm of the metronome. Then suddenly, the clock erupted in clattering shouts. The hammer struck the bell again and again.

She did not flinch.

Her husband rolled over, pulling the blanket with him and exposing her body. She remained rigid as a corpse. He switched off the alarm clock, turned back to kiss her cheek, and rose. She feigned deep sleep. The kind that, when true, gives glimpse to eternity.

Soon enough she would join him in the day, keeping silent what she knew and welcoming the white- hot sun as blamelessly as possible. She would tend to the children, scrub the dishes, wind the cuckoos, and sweep the floors. She would bake bread and glaze the buns in melted sugar.

NOVEMBER 5, 2007

Reba had called Elsie’s German Bakery every day for over a week without getting through. Each time, she was greeted by a twangy West Texan voice on the answering machine. She took a swig of orange juice to coat her voice sunny and sweet before the beep.

“Hi, this is Reba Adams from Sun City magazine. I was calling again to reach Elsie Meriwether. I left my number in my last two messages, so if you could ring me back . . . that’d be great. Thanks.” She hung up and threw the cordless onto the couch. “P.S. Get your head out of the oven, and pick up the damn phone!”

“Why don’t you go over there?” Riki pulled on his coat.

“Guess I don’t have a choice. My deadline is in two weeks,” Reba complained.

“I thought this would be an easy, fun one to write. An hour on the phone, send the photographer to take some shots, and I’d be done. It’s just a feel- good profile.” She went to the refrigerator and eyed the caramel cheesecake Riki was saving for tonight. “Christmas-round-the-world with a local slant.”

“Uh- huh.” Riki jingled his car keys. “Well, that shouldn’t be too hard. We got Texas and Mexico— what else matters?” He smirked.

Reba rolled her eyes and wished he’d hurry up and go. The happy anticipation of his departure made her sadly nostalgic. Once upon a time, his presence had incited waves of giddiness, like she’d drunk too many glasses of wine. The smart- aleck remarks had been cute in a cowboy way; his dark looks and Spanish accent made everything feel exotic and afl ame, brazen and irresistible.

Excerpted from The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy. Copyright © 2012 by Sarah McCoy. Excerpted by permission of Crown. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Comet Seekers
    by Helen Sedgwick

    A magical, intoxicating debut novel, both intimate and epic.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.