Cover Image: The French Baker's War

The French Baker's War

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Member Reviews

Great story, great writing! This well written novel tells us how a Jewish girl, who escaped from the Germans, ends up changing places with a French baker’s wife and all the troubles that are endured due to this change.
Be prepared to experience a roller coaster of emotions as you read how Andre tries desperately to find his missing wife. Lies, suspense, and deceit on the part of Andre’s “friends” provide pitfalls for him as he desperately searches for Mireille to no avail.

Thank you to Net Galley for allowing me to read and review this book.
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Living during wartime it can be cruel and dangerous. When France was Occupied by the Germans , supplies became low and life became precious because from one day to the next one could vanish without a trace. French Baker Andre and his wife Mireille found themselves in a world of lies, betrayal and death because of the Germans hatred of Jewish people. 
This book I had a difficult time reading and connecting with the characters. It seemed to be over the top in its wordiness. I would find myself skipping paragraphs and I fell asleep reading and I hate to admit to that.

I received an advanced copy from NetGalley and these are my willingly given thoughts and opinions.
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“They hold great advice. Having books is an act of faith – beams of light in the darkness.”    
     – Monsieur Durand

Rather than battle-focused, this five-star historical fiction novel highlights the difficult choices ordinary French citizens made in wartime and how their lives were transformed as a result. It’s set in a small town in 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 hiding in his bakery. His wife is nowhere to be found. Is the arrival of this cowering woman in his shop a coincidence? 

What an absorbing read! I didn’t need confirmation that the author was a teacher – I could tell by the splendid metaphors and similes and how they were incorporated into his well-structured writing. The fantastic pacing of the plot kept me reading and the masterfully created and authentic characters pulled me deeper into the story. Whatling, in his debut novel, has managed to accurately convey the tension of France under German occupation. I was aware of Andre’s desperation; he was torn finding someone to trust, yet reticent under the circumstances. Does he look for his wife? Should he continue his life as if she has left him? What does he do with this woman in the shop? What about his son? The light in the midst of this was the ever-present helping hand of Monsieur Durand, the local bookseller. What I loved about this novel were the twists and turns which made the plot unpredictable. The ending left me wanting more…but, perhaps the author has future plans to continue Andre and Mireille’s tale. 

A fellow Canadian and a fellow teacher, Whatling penned this tale during COVID lockdowns “in order to feel productive.” It checks all the boxes for a great historical read and I’d recommend it to others. 

I was gifted this copy by  Michael Whatling, BooksGoSocial,  and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.
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I highly recommend this book! It's a brilliant written story set in France during WWII and it's really powerful and compelling. The characters are really interesting and resilient. There's mystery, suspense, danger and intrigue with some plot twists along the way.

Thanks NetGalley!
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This is Michael Whatling's first novel and it's truly impressive.

The book takes place from mid-October to early December 1943. Just seven weeks. But it turns out quite a lot can happen and people can change dramatically in that time when they are living through the horrors of a world war. 

Based on a true story, this historical novel begins by meeting the talented French bakers André and Mireille Albert, a married couple with a four year old son, Frédéric, -- all three of them living in a small town under German occupation. Food and money are scarce, businesses are feeling pinched, but André and Mireille are devoted to one another and to maintaining their business, which has been in Mireille's family for generations. 

Then one day, happenstance. A random event, born of desperation and terror, changes the Albert's world forever. And without giving anything away, what happens during the rest of the novel, is the slow unfolding of what happens to people who are tested by circumstances. The range of emotions is exhaustive. Panic, guilt, fury, lust, shame, fear -- just to name a few. Whatling looks at how such dispiriting experiences can alter people. Even in a short period of time. 

This is a taxing, emotional novel, often difficult to read. But it's also powerful in its ability to translate the whole experience of war into the story of one small family.  It is also masterful in exposing the strange, varied, and sometimes pitiful processing of the human mind under pressure. Like me, you will no doubt end the book realizing that no one escapes any war unscathed. Strongly recommended.
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When I first started this novel, I went into it with low expectations. Mostly because it's historical fiction and it is super rare to find a fast-paced and entertaining historical fiction novel, a lot of them are a total yawn unless you are interested in the subject. I do have to say that The French Baker's War did not disappoint. In my head, After the first chapter, I recognized that this story is about to get intense. A woman shows up at the boulangerie and she has the Juif mark and the family does everything they can to save them. It is such a deep and beautiful story. You cannot have a light heart reading this novel since WWII is a graphic and sensitive subject matter, but overall, a well written story that can easily be made into a move. 

The only reason why I'm giving it 4 stars instead of 5, is that it is HARD reading about how awful people can be.
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A strikingly painful war between love and duty. Inspired by a true event, this story revolves around a baker who lived in a small village in occupied France in 1943.

A somewhat buoyant life of Andre (a baker) is turned upside down when he finds his four-year-old son in the street with his wife Mirelle nowhere in sight. On top of this, he finds a bruised and battered Jewish woman hiding inside his patisserie. In pursuit of finding Mirelle and hiding Emile, the escapee, Andre discovers shocking truths and is torn between saving his family and Emilie.

In today's world, how much longer will one go to uphold their principles and protect their family? In this character-driven story, Andre in the attempt to find his wife undergoes a lot of emotions. Anger, confusion, longing, hopefulness.  The journey of  Andre from being the kind loving person to a volatile individual is shockingly true and it resonates with everyone's attitude when it comes to protecting their own. The subtle build-up of characterisation for Mirelle with the painstakingly powerful ending will leave the readers gasping for air. The characters Emilie and Monsieur Durrand definitely needs a separate book! Mirelle's desperation, the kid's oblivion to his own mother, the affection of M Durand and the love between  Andre and Mirelle tore my heart into pieces. I was bristled by Emilie at the start yet she was the one for whom I wept most. 

A must-read for everyone, especially, those who adore Holocaust novels. I haven't read many books that take place during WWII except "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" yet I could say this is something unique that will have control over the reader's heart. 

A book that teaches us something powerful. Powerful to change one's life. i.e, Love.
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WWII historical fiction? Sign me up! Tragic and heartbreaking, this book is set in occupied France in 1943. Focusing on the difficult and often impossible decisions people are forced to make in war times, you can’t help but be pulled into this story and feel deeply for every character. 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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If you want an excuse to angry cry and experience having your heart ripped out, this novel is the one. Mothers, take heed, this is not an easy read if you are an empath or have an overactive imagination.
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If you enjoy historical fiction, this is definitely the book for you! Set in 1940’s occupied France during the Second World War, The French Baker’s War closely follows a young family’s personal experience of upheaval, loss and despair during a terrible period in European history,

I found this book a difficult read, purely because Whatling unapologetically allows some of his characters to openly display anti-Semitic thoughts and feelings. While I personally found this quite upsetting to read, I think it’s really important that historical fiction writers remember to reflect this in their story telling to provide a believable and truthful account of how terrible these times truly were.

The novel is despairing in tone; it feels bleak and hopeless from the beginning which again successfully represents the truth of the era. This doesn’t negate from your enjoyment as a reader - on the contrary, I couldn’t help but read on to find out what had happened to Mireille!

Overall if you are looking for a historical novel that accurately portrays the atrocities the war caused, not just on whole countries but on the individual people within them, then you need to pick this up. I’ll definitely keep this book in my thoughts - poignance at its finest.
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3-1/2 stars

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, but the writing style was so understated and almost aloof to the feelings and inner workings of the characters, that I get apart from the story and never as involved as I like to get. This is a good story but just ok for me. It’s the first book I’ve read by this author. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a free advance copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Wow.  This book was intense and sad.  The theme throughout was love.... Andre's love for his wife and child, Emilie's love for her family, Frederic, and Andre.  The love of the bakery.  Dupont's love for his partner.  If you take a step back, the big picture is there... especially after Andre's talk with the priest.  It was nice to read a book about WW11 that showed the more realistic side of the war and what every day life was like then - the fear, the anger, the damage that was done emotionally and physically.  No flowers and poems here... just the intensity of learning to survive any way possible.  And while Andre was angry, I wouldn't call him abusive as another reviewer did.  He is angry he cannot locate and/or save the love of his life. I only wish that some lose threads were tied up, but people come into your life when you need them most... and perhaps that is yet another lesson of war.

This is a definite must-read, especially for WW11 history fiction fans.

Thank you to NetGalley for the free copy of this book to facilitate my review.  All opinions are my own.
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Thank You NetGalley, BooksGoSocial and Author for this amazing ebook copy for an honest review! 

The French Baker's War by Michael Whatling was incredible! 
This unique story, fast paced story and its beautiful writing was awesome to read.
The story is absolutely riveting in itself. I was sucked into a world and the characters were very alive here! 
Which is ultimately what drew me in and kept me turning the pages. 

In short, I loved this book and would highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction! 

Thank you again for the amazing opportunity to read and review this outstanding book! 
I'll post to my Bookstagram, Goodreads and Facebook accounts closer to pub date!
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Twists and Turns and a surprise ending

Andre owns a pastry shop in Nazi occupied France. He runs it with his wife Mireille and his young son Frederic. One day upon returning from purchasing baking supplies he finds his son standing in the street, his wife is missing and a very scared Jewish woman is hiding behind the display case.
As his wife stays missing, Andre tries to find out what happened to her and gets nowhere. He allows the Jewish woman to stay and care for his son, reluctantly as he wishes her to leave but she has nowhere to go and he has no one to care for Frederic.

Andre's life crumbles more and more and his life becomes one of nothing but trying to find his wife. This is the story of that search and of his home life with Frederic and the Jewish woman while he searches. It has a lot of twists and turns, and it ends in a surprising way.

If you like WWII and mysteries you will like this book. It is more about the human relationships and how they deal with the occupation and with Andre and his missing wife.

I thought it was interesting to hear about the French pastry shop and the small town. I wondered why the author only had the story from the point of view of Andre and the Jewish woman and not from Mireille as well. She came into the picture only at the end of the book. I would have liked to have more development of her character as to where she was and how she was dealing with being away from her family at the same time as Andre was dealing with her absence.

It was a good mystery, but I did feel it was missing part of the story.

Thanks to Michael Whatling, BooksGoSocial, and NetGalley for allowing me to read a complimentary copy in return for an honest review.
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Although I felt the story idea was fine, with points of view from both the male and female protagonists, the writing itself did not inspire me at all. It lacked the eloquence and warmth to inspire empathy with the characters. As well, the ending was brusque, anti-climactic and unsatisfactory.
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Firstly my thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this novel, but possibly a bit numb given the very dramatic ending. Survival of German prison camps, only to bring about the downfall of innocent bystanders was doubtless a common-place story during the war. The novel is well written, with empathy and emotion. The characters played their roles in this realistic period of fear and dread, displaying their strengths and weaknesses with conscience eventually taking precedence. My congratulations to Michael Whatling on  this extremely engaging historical novel.
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This book was a fast read for me. The story was good and I love reading about this time period. But honestly nothing really stood out for me. It didn’t pull the emotions that some books of this time period do for me. The writing was good too. 

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by NetGalley.
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Andre, Mireille and their four year old son Frederic live in an apartment above their patisserie shop in France and the Albert’s are a happy family. Due to the Second World War, it’s difficult to find baking supplies and Andre has to extend his search further. He returns one day to find his young son playing in the street, Mireille missing and a starving Jewish woman hiding behind the display case. 

He has no idea what to do, Mireille's gone, she wouldn’t leave the shop empty, abandon him and Frederic! He desperately tries to find her, he asks the owners of all the other businesses in the street and everyone living nearby. Nothing, they didn’t see her leave, no one knows what happened to her and he’s distraught.

Andre’s a compassionate man, he helps Emilie, and she’s hurt, terrified, hungry and filthy. She stays at the apartment, it’s impossible to get her out of town without someone noticing and very dangerous. Andre reports Mireille missing to the police, he didn’t want to involve the Germans and he’s horrified when a German officer visits his shop. Is Nazi officer Egger interested in a French woman mysteriously going missing or is he really looking for a Jewish woman who has escaped?

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 received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review and four stars from me.
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Trigger warning: one of the main characters is emotionally abusive throughout most of the book.
I really wanted to like The French Bakers Wife by Michael Whatling. The premise sounded so promising. The long winded writing and a self absorbed main character just didn't deliver. It was definitely a unique take on an often written about subject. The son, Frederic, is a bright boy who appears to have autism.  While none of the adults understand what he's struggling with, they seem to understand that he's brighter than he might appear, at first glance, and that he must be protected. The father, Andre', is dealing with a lot and takes it out on everyone around him, especially those who're trying to help. While Emilie shouldn't be there, the Nazis were the ones that forced her to come. I didn't love the ending but it's probably pretty realistic.
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A bakery in France in 1943.  A hidden Jewish women and a women who has disappeared. German soldiers on the streets. A spellbinding story.
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