I'm going to repeat a rant I've had in the past. I have almost stopped blog tours completely. I get stressed out over the commitment, and I really enjoy reading what I want. If you feel like I do, then I would suggest you think twice about getting to know Trish Collins with TLC. Because she is one lady that is almost impossible to turn down.
See the beauty of Trish is that she is a blogger and she knows us. She understands our likes and dislikes, so when she comes a-knocking, she most likely will have an arsenal of books that she knows we are going to HAVE TO HAVE.
I was standing fast against accepting tours and ARCs one day, and Trish sent me an e-mail about "The Baker's Daughter". Past and present collide, intertwined lives, WWII, learning to forgive. Words that just reel me in. Plus Sarah McCoy, the author, is a little ray of sunshine on Twitter...friendly, upbeat and approachable. Authors should never underestimate the power of their presence on social media. Needless to say, I threw my hat in the ring for this one.
Synopsis: Reba should be on top of the world. She has a successful career as a journalist in El Paso, TX and she is engaged to a loving man. She refuses to allow herself the freedom to enjoy her life, though, because of unresolved horrors with her father and the rest of her family back home in Virginia. Until she meets Elsie...then her life begins to change.
Elsie and her daughter Jane run a bakery in El Paso. Elsie spent her youth learning the trade in her parents' bakery in Germany in the 1930's and 1940's. With the onset of WWII, Elsie's older sister finds herself a single mother and a participant in the Lebensborn Program (a glorified Nazi breeding program), and Elsie becomes engaged to a much older Nazi general who attempts to protect her and her family from the horrors of the Third Reich. But both Elsie and the general have secrets, ones that have far-reaching implications, and which may save or destroy lives.
The narrative alternates in time between Reba, Jane and Elsie's lives in the present, and Elsie's horrific past, weaving together the lives of these three strong women. Each have their own fears and obstacles, each with so much in common. As we learn their stories, we come to appreciate the value of their friendship, Elsie's immense courage and resolve to survive in the face of evil.
My thoughts: Both mysteries and WWII novels have big shoes to fill in my reading life. I've read so many examples of these genres that I'm not easily impressed. With that said, surprisingly I've recently read not one but TWO WWII novels that stand out...this one and "The Zookeeper's Wife" (review coming soon). So what was so special about "The Baker's Daughter"?
Several things. The female characters in this story were so strong, and had such chemistry with each other. They absolutely came alive on the page. You can't just conjure that kind of magic...you either have it or you don't. These women were survivors. I particularly loved Elsie. She was a pistol at 17 and a pistol at 80. She took charge of her life and made her mark. It was endearing to see her mentor Reba, who desperately needed a mother-figure.
And this business with the Lebensborn Program. What on earth? Why hadn't I heard of such a thing? The idea of basically pimping out perfect Aryan women in order to breed perfect Aryan children, who then belong to the state, and killing off the rejects? The idea completely horrified me.
I appreciated getting the perspective of Elsie's Nazi general fiancé as well. Understanding his motivations to shield Elsie's family from harm, understanding his humanity, just added additional depth to an already complex collection of personalities.
The story in turns melted my heart and broke it. I guess you have to expect this in a novel about the war, but McCoy adds her beautiful and gentle prose to make it seem almost like a love song. And while there are portions of this book that will make you heartsick, the end offers a soaring hope that all is right with the world.
4.5 out of 5 stars