Life got in the way of my financially negligent, selflessly ego-driven reviews, so I’m playing catch up with a stack of 5 books consumed over the last two months. I say this to point out that my memory is neither sharp nor oft accurate and therefore you can take this (and the next few reviews I write) with a grain of salt; in other words, if the book looks interesting to you, or you’ve heard something counter to what I have to say, trust your gut and go with it. Disclaimer done.
Now, on to The Baker’s Secret. Spotting Kiernan’s latest novel on one of the many “suggested reading” blogs I receive, I grabbed it because I’m a sucker for World War II stories. Kiernan’s disarming, gentle prose belies the serious subject of the Nazi Occupation in France during the war, increasing the effect of the inevitable violence you know will drop like a hammer at some point. The storyline follows the life of the inhabitants of Vergers, a small town on the Normandy coast, in the year leading up to and including June 6th, 1944 – D-Day, the Invasion of Normandy.
Tracing the days and nights of a twenty-two-year-old baker named Emma, who carefully and quietly resists the Nazi occupation by using Nazi wheat to provide the less fortunate in town with her prized baguettes, the story ebbs and flows with the despair, and hidden hope, Emma and her compatriots experience during the dark days of the Occupation. Kiernan can write, the story unfolding with ease. Emma’s character, however, felt two-dimensional and contrived, her emotional arc flat and unchanged through most of the story; and since most of the story unfolds from her angle, I found myself wanting more from her at the end.
But check out The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan. Maybe you’ll feel differently.