Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Baker's Daughter- Sarah McCoy

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





20 comments:

Jenny said...

I love reading books with strong independent women. I haven read that much WWII fiction even though there's so much out there. I'll have to keep this one in mind.

bermudaonion said...

Do you know why Sarah McCoy's a ray of sunshine? She's a Hokie! I just love her on Twitter and plan to buy this book while I'm out today.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This sounds great! You didn't TELL me! :--) (and I love Kathy's comment - LOL)

Jackie Bailey said...

I love it when you find a good WWII story! There are so many out there that I appreiciate it when you (my go-to WWII maven) finds a good one.

Mrs Q Book Addict said...

I've heard about this one, and I have it on my wishlist. Your review makes me want to download it right away. Great review!

Meg said...

Oooh, I'm all in for this one! Like Kathy, I agree that McCoy is the sweetest on Twitter -- that makes me more than excited to read her novel!

Anita said...

I too loved this book, and Sarah is the sweetest thing on twitter, a real gem!
I'm so excited, I am going to meet her next week in Dallas at a book event.
I'll share pictures and stories no doubt.

Zibilee said...

This book has been getting some rave reviews an some of my favorite blogs, and now I am really curious about reading it. There seems to be so much here, and I love the fact that you say there was real chemistry between the characters. I need to see if I can find this one, and soon! Fantastic review today, Sandy!

Anna said...

I'm so glad you loved this book, too! I'd read a few books about the Lebensborn program but it still shocks me every time. It's books like this one that keep me excited about WWII novels.

Alyce said...

I've read nothing but good reviews for this book. I will certainly keep an eye out for a copy. I hadn't heard of Lebensborn program either. I will have to read more about that.

Julie P. said...

This is a good one! I couldn't agree more. And guess what? I'm going to one of her events at the end of February!!!

caite said...

I am not the WWII fan you are, but this sound like a winner.

Stephanie said...

Sounds like a really great book! I've added it to my GoodReads to-be-read already!

Kathleen said...

Sounds like a good one. You are so right about Trish...she is hard to turn down. She always sets me up with the best books!

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

I wasn't really interested in this one until your review, Sandy! Thanks a LOT ;)

Jenners said...

Well, if you're going to get sucked in, at least you sucked in by a good one!

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I love when I learn something I didn't know about when I read a book. I have not heard of the Lebensborn Program either. I have heard nothing but great things about this book. I will have to be sure to read it.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

I think Trish does a great job of pairing books with bloggers so I'm happy you gave in on this one AND that you enjoyed it so much. :)

Thanks for being a part of the tour!

Darlene said...

Trish is fantastic for sure! I wish I would have had space to fit this one in because I really want to read it!

Marg said...

I really want to read this one! I will get to it soon but my expectations are actually pretty high after all the great reviews I have read it.