Absence isn’t a hole. It’s a presence living inside you, eating its way out.
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.
Without Mireille, the foundation of André’s world crumbles. He desperately searches for her, but finds more trouble than answers. Lives are further jeopardized when he agrees to hide Émilie, the escapee, and a Nazi officer shows up to investigate Mireille’s disappearance.
André will do anything to bring his wife home, catapulting him, their son, and Émilie on a perilous journey impeded by temptation, past trauma, and stunning revelations.
The French Baker’s War is as relevant today for its themes of duty to strangers and sacrifice for family.
Recommended for readers who enjoyed The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Book Thief, and The Nightingale.
"— There’s some great imagery and excellent dialogue here, and brilliant sections where we experience everything the characters do. You can almost smell the pastries baking. I especially liked the realistic dialogue, and there are some great lines in this book that caused me to stop and think about. Few books do that any more. Bravo!
—Compelling, fast paced and well written. I enjoyed the characters and plot twists. I would certainly recommend it without hesitation.
—The author's writing style brings a sense of immediacy to the fore, and the very human characters allow us to feel kinship with their difficult choices. Their vulnerability and everyday heroism are present on each page.
—This was an excellent book, I couldn't put it down, but didn't want to finish it either. A story beautifully told.
—Can see this brought to the screen. Definitely dark characters, setting and plot, befitting the historical context. Well-placed surprise twists. I enjoyed the frequent use of comparative language; those phrases really enhanced the characters' thoughts and emotions."
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Average rating from 64 members
This book took me on a grand emotional journey. From joy to sorrow to confusion and anger, and then back again through them each, <i>The French Baker's War</i> is a beautiful narrative. I smiled at Andre's kindness toward Emilie, cheered at his acts with the Resistance against the Nazis, and felt my eyes well up as I read what happened to Mireille. Stories of the world wars, World War II in particular, tend to focus on the battles and the actual warfare. <i>The French Baker's War</i> takes a different route, showing us the pain and cruelty war inflicts on civilians, on families, on communities; how it turns neighbor against neighbor and friend against friend, shattering towns like porcelain thrown against a stone wall, only for the pieces to be picked up and glued back together into a new shape, sharp edges and all. The hard truth of this book is that sometimes very good people do very good things, selfless, noble things, and in return are punished and committed to suffering. There are no easy decisions for these characters, no choices made without intense consideration. The details in this book are vivid, including a paragraph or two describing the construction, assembly, and initial use of the main display case in the Albert's pastry shop. The characters, especially Andre, Emilie, Mireille, and Monsieur Durand, feel fleshed out and complex, as though they had narrated their versions of the events directly to Michael Whatling for his recording in this volume. The way Mireille always says to bake three petit fours so that they will have something sweet to eat, the way Andre manages this, even during the most difficult periods of the story, Madame Monchamp's haughtiness, Gilles's drunken impropriety, they all come together spectacularly to tell an emotional, heartrending story. This book could, and should, be turned into a movie (but an adaptation that is highly faithful to the source material, please!). I absolutely recommend this book. I won't say it was the happiest or most uplifting book I've read, but it was certainly cathartic, and well-written. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to go buy some petit fours and mille feuille from the Pâtisserie Saint-Léry.
The French Baker’s War is a wonderful book with an interesting plot that kept me reading. 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 at the beginning of the book says, “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.
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.
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.
A bakery in France in 1943. A hidden Jewish women and a women who has disappeared. German soldiers on the streets. A spellbinding story.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
“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.
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.
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
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
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..
'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
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.
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!.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
A wonderful historical fiction, rich with character and history. Loved it, the characters and writing drew me in from the start.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 ⭐️
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. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The French Baker’s War has a theme that will feel familiar to readers of historical WWII fiction: ordinary people placed in extraordinary situations and forced to make excruciating choices. The characters are relatable and humanized for the reader to understand the motivations they have for making very difficult decisions. Like other books of this brand, The French Baker’s War is moving, sad, insightful, and makes for a compelling story. The book was heartfelt and impressive for a debut novel. Thank you to the author, the publisher, and Net Galley for the opportunity to review this lovely book.
The French Baker's War does a great job evoking the feel of France under the German occupation in WWII, from a historical perspective. The difficulties of this terrible time in history and it's day to day uncertainties are unfolded as neighbors turned against each other and it becomes unclear who could be trusted as well as what friendships will remain. The authors research of the time-period and geography is evident and I encourage lovers of historical fiction to add this book to their must read list. I think they will find learn a lot about the hardships that people endured during the German occupation and how the war left scars on the landscape as well as in people's souls. A great Story!
This is such an emotional book. Set during the war. You will need tissues to the ready as you immerse yourself in the pages. Can't say to much other than make sure this book makes it to your book shelf to be read!! Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book.
Merry Christmas y’all! ❤️ I wasn’t planning to post today as the day is over and it was a busy one. But when I saw so many Christmas-y posts, i thought it isn’t right that even after finally doing so many posts this December for Blogmas, i don’t do one on the last day of Blogmas. So here it is. A book review of one of my favorite books in 2021 that I found on Netgalley. I am telling you guys, if you don’t know what Netgalley is, you really need to check it out. Also, click on the below image if you wish to buy the book. (If you buy it via clicking on the image, I’ll earn a small commission. 🙂) While i expected to read a lot more in 2021, one of the things I wanted was to try stuff that I haven’t before. I have never read anything on World War. I lapped this book up as soon as i saw it on Netgalley and I cannot wait till the end to tell you that i loved reading it so much. I am so glad tha this amazing fiction initiated me into reading about World War. Here’s why you should read it too: 1. Patisserie & the plot: it’s not an unimaginable plot but what i loved is this – the book is set in occupied France in 1943 over a course of two months during World War II when a woman who owns a Patisserie with her husband goes missing. The patisserie becomes a character in the book, it’s given a lot of emotional value by the author and, therefore, becomes a super important character. Of course, i am not going to spoil it for you by giving whys and how’s. If you want to pick this due to the cover and the word Baker in the name, let me tell you that there is a lot of reference to the patisserie, which I certainly enjoyed. 2. Characters: as it is with the patisserie, even all the other characters are very well formed. The book has its protagonists but the author has done a great job in character formation of many side characters. They have a back story that makes you want to know them better. In some books, it gets very annoying to read about multiple storylines but here the back stories of different characters become part of the story and you get attached to them. If you have read the book already, you would have fallen in love with Monsieur Dormund as well. 😊 3. The topic itself: as i mentioned, I haven’t read anything on World War and i am glad I picked this up because this has definitely made me more interested in reading about this topic. If you have read a lot of serious literature or non fiction on this topic, then I am not sure where you stand with this book but, otherwise, anyone is going to love it! There are two things I didn’t like which I want to mention – a) the flashbacks didn’t hook me as much as the present story, b) the initial pages/chapters spent a lot of time building up and leading up to the next part of the story, which became a bit much. So i would say if I had to divide the book into three parts, the second and third parts of the book were way better than the first. Overall, I would highly recommend reading this and you can find it on the below link. If you purchase using that I’ll earn a small commission. 🙂 The French Baker’s War