Cover Image: The French Baker's War

The French Baker's War

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Member Reviews

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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The French Baker’s War by Michael Whatling was a very compelling and powerful story. It was unique in that it explored the fates of ordinary people trying to  live their lives the best they could in occupied France during 1943. It was well paced and well written. The French Baker’s War was based on a true story. It was most definitely a character driven book with some characters more likable than others. The time period for The French Baker’s War spanned from the middle of October to the beginning of December 1943. That was a matter of seven weeks. In that short period of time lives would be turned upside down and many questions that were posed would find no answers. This was Michael Whatling’s debut novel and I found it to be quite impressive. It was an emotional read that was hard to read at times. 

Andre and Mireille Albert were happily married and lived in a small town in occupied France with their four year old son, Frederic. When Frederic was born, Mireille and Andres were told that their son would not learn like other children. His birth had been difficult and culminated with presenting Frederic with many challenges especially in the way he learned and talked. Frederic was almost mute and possessed very few distinguishable words. Mireille and Andres loved him even more because of and in spite of his challenges. In their eyes, Frederic was their little prince. Times were hard in Andres and Mireille’s little village. The war and the occupation brought rationing with it. Andre was a talented baker. Together Mireille and Andres ran the Patisserie that had been in Mireille’s family for generations. Mireille’s father had even personally trained Andres. Mireille’s parents, now gone, left the patisserie to her and Andres. Each morning, Mireille and Andres’ routine was the same. Bakers rose early to complete their baking and line their shelves with their treats before their customers arrived. The morning in question, saw Andre and Mireille having done just that. When the baking was complete, Andres took off his apron and headed out, ration book in tow, to seek out the ingredients they so desperately needed to keep their shop going. Mireille remained at the shop with Frederic to await potential customers. In an instance, Andre’s life would change with no prior warning. When Andre returned to the shop Frederic was outside by himself. The shop door was wide open. Andres sensed that something was very wrong. He scooped up Frederic and ran into the shop shouting for Mireille but she was nowhere to be found. In her place, Andre discovered a young, dirty and disheveled woman hiding behind the display case. After some coaxing, Andres learned that her name was Emilie and surmised that she was an escaped Jewess. Andres was beside himself. Where could Mireille be? At first he thought that she had gone to help a neighbor but as more and more time passed and she did not return he started to panic. Mireille was his life. He could not exist without her. Where had she gone? What should he do in regards to this Jewish woman? Mireille would surely have known the right thing to do but she was not there. Should he help this Jewish woman by helping her hide from the Nazis? Where could he look for Mireille? What had happened to life as he had known in just that short time he was out getting the much needed ingredients for their shop? Would Mireille have left him? Could she have merely run off? Andre was distraught and had no answers. He just knew he would not give up until he found Mireille again and put his family back together.

The French Baker’s War was about 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 was both sad and up lifting. I recommend this book very highly and without hesitation.

Thank you to Mortal Coil Books for allowing me to read this digital version of The French Baker’s War through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. This book was published in April 2021.
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The French Baker’s War is a powerful story. Unlike other WWII fiction, the characters are not fighting for some higher cause, but to protect themselves and each other during very trying times.  The novel focuses on the difficult choices ordinary French citizens made in wartime and how their lives were transformed as a result of the decisions they made.  Set in a small town Nazi occupied France during a 7-week period from October 19 – December 5, 1943. Andre and Mireille Albert own the town’s patisserie and it’s been difficult to keep open because baking supplies have been so difficult to obtain. One day Andre returns home, haggard from obtaining rationed ingredients, only to find his four-year-old son, Frederic, alone in the street, his wife’s torn apron lying beside him, and a starving and disheveled Jewess Emelie, hiding in his bakery. His wife is nowhere to be found.  The characters don’t always do things that are likable, but these are complex people trying to muddle through the situations they find themselves in. Like the quote of Victor Hugo states at the beginning, “The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness.” I grew to like them because of the hard decisions they had to make, often ones with no winner.  The French Baker’s Wife plot is about Andre searching for Mireille and he will do whatever it takes to find her, he will never give up and he needs help from the French resistance. A story full of mystery, suspense, danger, intrigue, secrets, desperation, and a few shocks. Michael Whatling has written a very unique WW II historical fiction story, it’s dramatic, intense, engrossing and has a cast of interesting characters.

I really enjoyed this different spin on historical fiction based on the normal daily lives of people in a war/occupied territory and the choices they make and how they try to help.   I enjoyed that this novel was a different side of the war, in that it had mystery involved but the forefront of what was also happening to families and those who risked everything to save others. I would suggesting adding this to your WWII novels pile! 

I was gifted this copy by Michael Whatling, BooksGoSocial, and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.
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This story is like none I have ever read. The historical facts are accurate and the book is very well written. It's a story of survival and hope that unfortunately come at a high price and much suffering.
I highly recommend it to lovers of WWII narrative, and will definitely encourage friends and family to read it as well. Thank you for the opportunity to preview it!.
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3.5 stars, rounded up. 

A missing wife and mother, a frightened stranger, a baker, and a young boy. Compelling historical fiction set during WWII in occupied France with a surprise ending. 

Well written and worthwhile, I really enjoyed this intense story. An excellent debut novel.


My thanks to Books Go Social and NetGalley for the reading copy. Opinions shared are influenced by nothing other than my own reading experience.
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A wonderfully written story that will remain with you long after you finish reading.  This book haunts the soul and makes you long for just one more chapter before it ends.
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This was a good WWII story set  in  a small town in occupied France in 1943.   This book besides from the main plot is very much about the characters.
I love a story that delves into the complexities of all of the characters, making me feel for them or not, and able to slowly find out the many stories that they each bring to the story, and why they are driven to do what they do..
Andre Albert, his wife Mireille and there son Frederic, own a Patisserie, which like all of the other businesses on their street are struggling to survive under the German rule.
One day Andre comes down stairs to find his wife missing, his son wandering around alone and a Jewish woman, Emilie, hiding behind his  pastry display cases, and from this point on the search begins for Andre, to find his wife.
The story keeps you on edge wondering what will happen to the main characters and their friends, through many Nazi officers, encounters, and the secrets they all keep.
I would like to thank NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for a copy of this book.
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Losing his wife to Nazi soldiers changes Andre’s life immensely.  Taking in an escaped Jewish woman to care for his son, Frederic, and dealing with his life changes make Andre desperate to find his wife Mireille.  Set in a small French town, the characters are well described and sensitively portrayed in this excellent historical novel.
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'T he French Baker's War' by Michael Whatling is a story of love, loss, devotion, and sacrifice set in WWII France. The brilliant descriptions put me right into the little pastry shop. I was able to smell the aromas and feel the fear that Frederic, Anrde' ,Emilie and Frederic felt when the Nazi showed up. This riveting story made me not want to put my book down. I give 'The French Baker's War'five stars. Thanks Netgally for giving me this book
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Set in Paris during the Nazi occupation, this story delivers an emotional view of a fascinating cast of people who desperately tried to stay alive.  Despite the devotion to each other and to their son, both Andre and his wife hold secrets.  At first glance, they seem to be a straightforward couple striving to survive the war while raising their son to the best of their abilities.  However, their secrets lead to betrayal, agony and tragedy for all involved.  The story is a reminder that while we like to think we're in control of our lives, momentous things occur in a second to forever change our destiny.  I found myself thinking "But if only...." many times through the story.  Captivating book that lingers long past the last page.
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I have a fondness for WWI and II stories.  This debut novel is excellent.  The mystery of Mereille’s disappearance along with Nazi occupation is a winner and as a bonus a bakery thrown in.  Beautiful prose and descriptions in this  story a little different than other WWII stories.  I highly recommend this, especially to book clubs.  I’m definitely recommending to my book club.  Looking forward to more by this author.
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The first thing that struck me about this book was the title.  I love a good book that is interesting, historical and has anything to do with food and cooking so I requested it and have been lucky enough to read this wonderful and heartfelt story.

Yes it is about the war, occupied France in 1943.  It is based on past events but it is still so poignant and such a great story to be told.  When the baker's wife goes missing and a Jewish woman is found hiding in the bakery a whole range of emotions become apparent and the baker André Albert, is left to look for his missing wife, look after his young son and keep the secret of the hidden Jewish woman now in his home. 

It is very well written starting and slowly (but not too slowly) building up throughout so it keeps you interested and reading the whole time.  The characters are complex and compelling, The story is strong and is filled with plenty of passion, intrigue, danger and emotion.  The story flows through the lives of these people, the hardships they endured and their strength and compassion.

Loved it and highly recommend.
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The French Baker's War is a historical fiction book set during WWII in France. A baker's wife disapears one day and her husband is left with their child to discover what happened and find her. I'm giving this book 2 stars, which means this was an okay reading experience for me (I'm using the Goodreads rating system). I'm glad I read it but there were some things I did not enjoy.
The positives:
- The concept was definitely intriging and that kept me wanting to keep reading to find out more answers.
- The cover design is beautiful and captivating
- It's an easy read and a page-turner, only took me two days to read which is quite fast for me.
- The characters were flawed and real, something I always look for in books. My favourite character was the bookseller.

The negatives:
- There was quite a lot of miscommunication and dishonesty between the characters in order to further the plot, which I don't appreciate.
- The setting and the story at times felt a bit overdone and unoriginal for me, Probably due to the huge amount of holocaust stories in the market today.
- The ending was anticlimatic and even a bit confusing, with the characters changing their minds very quickly.

Overall, I think a lot of people would enjoy this story, even though it felt a bit lackluster to me.
I would definitely recomend this book to people who love to read holocaust stories like The Tattooist of Aucshwitz or The Book Thief.
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Firstly thanks to NetGalley, Booksgoscoial and the author for this preview edition for an honest review. Michael Whatling’s beautifully written book is a page-turner from chapter one. It is an emotional and moving WW11 story, starting with the mystery disappearance of Mireille, the baker’s wife and the plight of a young Jewish woman hiding from the Nazis. The fear and tension that the characters feel from the beginning is palpable and the sign of a skilfully written narrative by the author. Highly recommended..
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This debut novel by Mr Whatling was an interesting read. It is set in France in 1943
A Jewish girl, who escaped from the Germans, ends up changing places with a French baker’s wife
Andre tries desperately to find his missing wife when he finds his young son alone in the street.
This is a good story but if I am honest it lost me in parts. 
Thanks to#NetGalley for the advance copy in return for an honest review
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What can i say?. I have been through every emotion possible as it shifts from gritty resistance fighting, to emotional reunions, to fear,  and everything else in between... 
The clever construction of the book has twists and turns and i loved the ending as it turns everything that had happened up side down..... 
Read it and go on a journey of emotion
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This debut novel by Mr Whatling was an interesting read. While WWII plays a huge role in this book, it's more a story about love, families, and what one is willing to do to protect those we care about. What are our moral obligations to speak up when others are being threatened or mistreated - even if speaking up places both parties in greater danger? I greatly enjoyed how the son in the story, Frederic, is portrayed - he is a special child. I also greatly enjoyed the character of the bookseller, Monsieur Durand. While we got some of his backstory, I'd love to have known more about him (and about his bookstore). I did, though, have some issues with parts of the story (Would someone really be welcomed into a resistance movement without reservations? Would a guarded munitions factory be surprising to others in the area?), the writing style (the simile "... went to their separate beds coated in the molasses of animosity" was so awkward I ceased reading for a few moments puzzling it out; two other similes compared reactions to classical painting styles), and some actions by the characters (would one really feel that "too much time had passed" regarding an argument the previous evening and the number of train trips taken toward the end of the book, when food and money are scarce?). Overall, I found this an okay book - the story opened decently and grabbed my attention with the mystery, the main characters were distinct and interesting, but while it held my interest, I didn't always feel engaged with the story.
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