A routine interview between a reporter and an elderly baker brings out memories of darker times: her life in Germany during that last bleak year of WWII. As their lives become more intertwined, all are forced to confront the uncomfortable truths of the past and seek out the courage to forgive.
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.
Long after the downstairs oven had cooled to the touch and the upstairs had grown warm with bodies cocooned in cotton sheets, she slipped her feet from beneath the thin coverlet and quietly made her way through the darkness, neglecting her slippers for fear that their clip might wake her sleeping husband. She paused momentarily at the girls room, hand on the knob, and leaned an ear against the door. A light snore trembled through the wood, and she matched her breath to it. If only she could halt the seasons, forget the past and present, turn the handle and climb in beside her like old times. But she could not forget. Her secret pulled her away, down
the narrow steps that creaked under weight, so she walked on tiptoe, one hand balancing against the wall.
In the kitchen, bundled dough mounds as white and round as babies lined the countertop and filled the space with the smell of milk and honey, and promises of a full tomorrow. She lit a ...
Some of the recent comments posted about The Baker's Daughter. Join the discussion! You can see the full discussion here.
Can you sympathize with Reba's desire to remember her father differently?
Yes, I can sympathize with Reba, because she did love her father & it traumatized her to learn of his illness & problems because she saw a lot of herself in her father. Today, things would have been done differently. in some ways he was alot like ... - barbarab
Do you have friends or family members with whom you frequently exchange letters, cards, or emails, though you rarely see them in person or talk on the phone?
Davina, You have to order the cards with the printed signature - I didn't phrase that well! I love fountain pens as well. I used to buy disposable ones at Borders, before its demise, which were okay as far as not leaving too many blots. I like ... - lisag
Does Josef’s personal suffering justify his public actions? How does Riki justify his daily work?
I felt for Josef as well. We always believe that put in the same situation we will act differently. But the truth is we are all human and react in the moment. I had a difficult job during a difficult time - rebajane
Have recipes played a part in your own childhood and adult life?
To a certain extent. I have fond memories of certain things my mother and aunt cooked throughout my childhood. Neither were particularly good cooks but some things they made were memorable. I am an okay cook. What frustrates me is the lack of time in... - malindan
How does McCoy depict gender roles? How does the issue of empowerment manifest in Elsie and Reba's stories?
Empowered? That word doesn't fit Elsie & Reba for me. Looked it up & found some interesting background on what word meant before becoming a buzzword - " to invest with authority, authorize ... ". Elsie was challenged because of the war. She had ... - marganna
If you liked The Baker's Daughter, try these:
"A masterpiece" (A.N. Wilson), this many-layered novel of WWII combines fiction with a Sebaldian collage of facts to explore the fate of Italian Jews under Nazi occupation, through the intimate story of a mother's search for her son
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