Cover Image: The French Baker's War

The French Baker's War

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Member Reviews

The author has a unique way of painting both scenery and character relationships that make it feel like a movie playing out in your head. The complexity of the characters is what kept me wanting more of this book. You could love and hate the same character within just a few chapters. Overall, I would recommend this book to other lovers of historical fiction and tragic stories of trying times. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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The French Baker’s War by Michael Whatling is a powerful work of historical fiction. The book is set in 1943 Occupied France, André returns to his patisserie to discover his wife missing, his four year old son Frederic in the street and Émilie a Jewish escapee finding refuge in his store. André agrees to hide Émilie whilst he searches for his wife. It is story of pain, fear, courage and survival in the face of brutality. The book honestly captures a sense of time and place as André’s actions impact those in his family and community. A heartbreaking, human story with a well paced plot and carefully sculpted prose. For fans of historical, literary fiction - 4 stars ⭐️
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Author Michael Whatling has written a truly heart-wrenching story that captures your attention from the very first page and holds you there throughout the entirety of his  book, "The French Baker's War".

This is a story of a baker whose wife goes missing and while he is desperately searching for what has happened to his wife, he is also harboring a Jewish woman in his home.  There is wonderful character development and you greatly come to sympathize and a love several of the characters in this book. While you want to see the baker find his wife, you also realize that there will probably be a cost to her recovery.

Because this story is set during World War II, and involves the Nazi occupation of France, it has the element of recounting the atrocities and hardships during these times for the people in the country.  I have read many novels which take place during World War II and always I am reminded about the great inhumanity that exists in our world and that existed during that war.  The author captures these times, and especially the frustration of people turning their heads, not wanting to be involved and, even understandably so, knowing that to be involved could be at a cost to themselves and even to their families.  

As I closed the last page of this book I realized my fear of how this book might end was different than I expected, but also just as heart-wrenching as I was afraid it would be.  I do feel like the book, in many ways, helps keep our faith in our fellow man to do the right thing.  This author wrote a story that was so poignant that it has resonated with me and is still replaying in my mind.

I was given a copy of this book by NetGalley for my honest opinion—I can honestly say that this book is very well written, very emotional, and will leave you thinking about it long after you have finished the story.  In addition, I can say without reservation that I would have gladly paid to read this book—it is truly a book that is well worth purchasing.
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I found myself with mixed feelings about this book. While in many ways a compelling read, I often became frustrated while reading and there were so many unanswered questions until almost the very end of the book. I felt as though i9t would have been better to drip feed in some details as the narrative progressed, just so the reader could attempt to guess what had taken place, especially as there were people within the village who knew.

That said, the style of writing carries lots of pathos and it was impossible not to feel desperately sorry for Andre as he struggled to come to terms with Mireille's disappearance. The relationship with Emilie was an intriguing one, as he seemed torn between wanting his wife back, whilst also desperately needing her help and assistance with son Frederic.

The narrative clearly conveyed the oppressive atmosphere of that time, with villagers reluctant to involve themselves in anything that might provoke a reaction from the German soldiers and the descriptions of prisoners being marched through the main square were particularly poignant and hard to read.

Overall, a dramatic and intense read.

With thanks to the author, BookSirens and NetGalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.
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The French Baker’s War by Michael Whatling
Source: NetGalley and Mortal Coil Books
Rating: None, DNF at 30%

The Bottom Line:  UGH!  Yet another World War II era read that just didn’t hit the mark for me.  I very much like the premise of this book but found the execution lacking.  There are simply too many issues with this book to get me beyond the 30% mark.  I found Andrė to be a rather tiresome character, his response to his wife’s disappearance to be rather unbelievable, and the appearance of the Jewish woman to be odd.  I’m sure that last bit would have eventually been explained, but for me, it was too little too late, and Andrė, as a character, became unbearable.  I wanted this story to come together and be interesting and engaging, but that didn’t happen by the 30% mark, so I set this one aside for a different story.
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This is a WW2 story set in France, the story of a baker whose wife suddenly and mysteriously disappears, leaving her young boy alone, at the same time he finds a Jewish woman hiding in his shop. It was an interesting story that kept me reading, It was a roller coaster ride for emotions! The pace of the book is quick and enjoyable!
I enjoyed this book and would most certainly recommend it especially if you like Historic fiction!
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The French Baker’s War takes place over the course of a few months in 1943. The story involves sacrifices, guilt, love, family, times of panic, lust, shame, fear, friendship, and devotion. The dialogue was realistic as it portrayed the human elements in this story. There were moments of sadness and desperation. The characters and the plot stayed with me long after I completed reading this book. The ending made me feel a mix of sadness and yet was somehow uplifting. I highly recommend this book.
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I was really conflicted with this one. While the story was good, the writing style was TERRIBLE. I think writing in present tense is the WORST thing an author can do, and that just dragged this book down so BAD, there were so many holes in the story. The narrative was SO BAD. I read it because I wanted to find out what happened. But I was so disappointed in the end. Andre is such an unpredictable character. Emilie is absolutely unlikeable and because everything is written in the present tense, people awkwardly change their behaviours and it is somehow supposed to be okay? There was no depth to how people would behave and how their personalities would be. 

There were good bones, but then the writing style was way too amateur. Present tense really killed the book. Let me give you an example. So, Andre is sitting at home having dinner and suddenly he gets furious. But because this is written in the present tense we don't understand the reason WHY he is upset about something. What drives him to madness? 

Emilie has got to be an unlikeable character. There is such little time spent on talking about her, her back story, that it just seems really mish mashed. I honestly feel this book is like a first draft that got published that NOBODY read before being published, not even beta readers. I have read WW2 fiction and this was not one of the better ones. Everything here, the bookseller, the Resistance, everything seems to sort of be jammed together without much of a purpose. 

I honestly think you should skip this. The only saving grace was the whole picturization of how it was being in Occupied France. But, I don't know how much of it was because of the author's writing or how much of it was because of my own prior knowledge on this. 

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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The French Baker's War by Michael Whatling provides an insight into the challenges families experienced during the Second World War and the significant impacts on their relationships. These challenging times form part of the most interesting and well written story presented by the writer. The book continues to keep the readers interest and ability to gain insight into the fears experienced by the people during the specific time. The storyline embedded in the world experienced by André Albert allows for a deep insight into the diversity of adventures played out during the war to stay alive, deal with missing family members and unknown individuals looking for help. The author offered a rich and well-written storyline surrounded by a range of events inclusive of the Nazi regime that created fear into people's lives. Readers who enjoy the specific time period will find this book one of the best historical novels of our time.
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Andre Albert shares his life with his wife Mirelle and their son in a French patisserie in 1943. On a fateful night his wife disappears while an escaped Jewess appears.
This is a wonderful moving novel about love and loss and a tiny insight into the pain brought to individuals during WWII. Cannot praise it enough to but be prepared for the hurt you will read.
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This book is not a love story but it is a book about love and how it affects each character in the story.  The premise is interesting, but I found  the writing slow and ponderous at times.  The convoluted thought processes of the main characters were difficult to follow sometimes.  Interesting Holocaust story with a surprising ending.
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This is a heartbreaking story of love persevering through the hardest of times. The characters are all written with equally complex and emotional pasts. It’s a well-written tale told from a unique perspective. 

Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for a review.
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When writing for NetGalley, deadlines are important.  I was trying to finish this book just as the archive deadline hit. Yet even though I completed my journey with the French Baker, I wasn't ready to write my review about Andre and his struggles.  I needed a few days to think about the choices he made and the price his family paid.  Was it all worth it? Michael Whatling offers a new point of view of life under the Nazi occupation of France.  His first novel explores the tortured world of Andre and his family as their sweet, simple life is turned upside down with the disappearance of his beloved wife Mireille.  As circumstances spins his world out of control, we see a man trying to understand his plight and the choices he must make.  In his nightmare existence, traditional societal norms and human behavior are twisted and turned, leaving him trapped by the decisions he is forced to make.  

The story starts off simply enough with the baker and his wife absorbed in their own little world that revolves around their patisserie and their mentally challenged son Frederic.  Life plods along at its own pace as the Alberts and their neighbors learn to coexist under the Nazi regime.  This new normal soon exacerbates the day to day tensions between neighbors to a heightened pitch..  Behaviors that were once considered boorish or unfriendly turn dark and deadly.  When Mireille vanishes in the middle of the day and no one sees anything, Andre's life becomes a living nightmare.  Trying to cope with her disappearance, Andre struggles to hold on to his sanity and his livelihood.  Complicating the situation is his four year old son and the appearance of a runaway Jewess, Emilie, in his shop.  Not only do the Germans pose a menacing threat, Andre soon finds out his friends and neighbors can be just as treacherous.  

Whatling spins an interesting morality tale that tries to make sense of right and wrong in a world that traditional values are skewed,  He strips away the traditional romanticism and heroics often found in WWII resistance novels  to create a tale of pain, loss, and treachery.  Regardless of the choices Andre, Emilie, and others discover that life does not offer easy choices.  For every decision, the consequences carry harsh penalties.  Reality has a way of striking down even the noblest of motives.  Even Andre's friendship with the loyal Monsieur Durand is tested to its limits.  In his pain, Andre drives daggers through the fabric of his life, destroying so much.  Emilie's duplicity undermines any sympathy one has for her as she hides in the open from the SS.  Their intertwined lies forces a climax that reveals how ruthless humans can be. 

For a few days after finishing the novel, the characters haunted me, forcing me to think and reconsider the outcome.  As a historian who specialized in WWII and France, I found Whatling's novel intriguing and infused with the minutia of life under the occupation.  His attention to the daily details in the small village made the story very realistic.  Through his characters, he shows how even the most innocent of actions carried harsh ramifications.  The ending caught me by surprise and encapsulated the reality of a man's love for his family.  Highly recommend The French Baker's War for anyone's reading list even if it does make one struggle with the morality of war.
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The French Baker’s War
By Michael Whatling 
Published by Mortal Coil Books

Based on a true story set in W.W 2 France, this historical fiction opens with the startling and harrowing lines: 

“ABSENCE ISN'T A HOLE. IT'S A PRESENCE LIVING INSIDE YOU, EATING ITS WAY OUT.”

Filled with obsessions and vices and loves and wishes that eat away at the human soul, it is a sad, sad story that will make you weep and perhaps understand more the hideous trials of the persecuted during the Nazi reign.
Our French baker returns home to find his wife missing, his 4-year-old son in the street and a traumatized Jewish woman hiding in his bakery. What unfolds in his search for his love will blow your mind. The author has infused his novel with a fantastic sense of growing tension that makes it hard to put down. The betrayals, the unforeseen friendships and the cruelty of a soulless regime will all crowd around the reader in a cacophony of moral choices demanding to be made.
Interestingly the writing begins a little clumsily- as though a Baker, not an author was trying to express himself and then before you know it you are fully invested in this story and all the characters such as my favourite Durrand the bookseller have fully come to life. 
It is begging to be made into a movie and the ending will drive you mad.

3.8 stars 
Miranda Y, Reviewer. 5 stars
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I enjoy most books set during WWII and while this was a good one, it doesn’t stand out for me like some others. Some of the writing was awkward as well and made it difficult to enjoy at times.
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A wonderful historical fiction, rich with character and history. Loved it, the characters and writing drew me in from the start.
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occupied-France, bravery, deceit, bitterness, loss, love, family, family-dynamics, friendship, culture-of-fear, historical-novel, historical-research****

The publisher's blurb is a great hook, but only hints at the pathos and self delusion contained in the story of the essence of five people and those all around them in a time of occupation in a sleepy village in France. The wife disappears, the husband is undone, the fugitive becomes important, the child cannot comprehend the changes in his world, the bookseller sees them all as his family. It is a wrenching tale that kept me reading on relentlessly.
I requested and received a free temporary ebook copy from BooksGoSocial via NetGalley. Thank you also to Mortal Coil Books.
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This story was absolutely incredible.  The author has written an astonishing account of how the everyday lives of the inhabitants of  small town in occupied France in 1943 was affected by the Nazi's and their merciless brutality. I have read many books on this subject but the author has captured the brutal realism on what could have easily happened during this time to one family and their surroundings.  It is the story of Andre who comes home one day from trying to buy ingredients for their patisserie only to find his wife Mireille is missing, their four year old Son Frederic in the street and an escaped Jewess called Emilie hiding in their patisserie. The story unfolds from this point and is both unimaginably sad but also uplifting.  The energy of the authors words brought the characters and their hardships to life.  The devastation to the lives of not only the Albert family but as the story unfolds to Emilie's life too as well as those living around the patisserie.  This story was so personal to those affected and heart wrenching.  I do hope the author considers writing a follow-up to this story to see how the lives of Andre, Mireille, Emilie, Frederic and their dear friend Monsieur Durand unfolds.  This story will stay with me for a long time and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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Occupied France, 1943. Returning home from the daily hunt for the rationed ingredients necessary to keep his family pâtisserie open, André Albert finds his four-year-old son in the street, his wife gone, and a Jewish escapee cowering behind the display case of the family bakery. 
A dramatic scene setter for an intense book, which covers only a seven week time period of German occupied WW2 France.
I was immediately drawn in and wanted to solve the mystery of missing Mireille. But I had to be patient! 
To be honest, I found some tracts overly descriptive and I sped through them to get to more action.
But the characters were there to be savoured....much like a Petit four. Andre is angry and lost....his missing wife eating him up and slowly destroying him. Nothing left but a dispensible shell.
Emilie, the mysterious jewess escapee who arrives out of no-where, hides her life's misery well. She forces Andre to make a perilous decision almost of biblical proportions, as he helps his fellow (wo)man in their time of need.....risking his all.
I also loved the character Monsieur Durand, who owns the bookshop across for the pâtisserie. "Having books is an act of faith – beams of light in the darkness.”    Wise and carrying many secrets himself, he is the advisor, child minder and resistance connection. 
So thought provoking....how would I react in such hard, soul destroying times? 
Unique historical fiction with an all star cast.  Would make a great movie. I have also watched the trailer of The Dancing Dogs of Dombrovia.....a movie also written by Michael Whatling. He should keep writing!
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Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. If you enjoy historical fiction and inner struggles - this book is for you. I especially enjoyed the fact that nobody in this books was purely good which made the story more realistic. While some of the scenes felt unrealistic, the ending made up for it
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