The Baker's Daughter

The Baker's Daughter

by Sarah McCoy


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In this New York Times bestseller, two women in different eras face similar life-altering decisions, the politics of exclusion, the terrible choices we face in wartime, and the redemptive power of love.

In 1945, Elsie Schmidt is a naive teenager, as eager for her first sip of champagne as she is for her first kiss. She and her family have been protected from the worst of the terror and desperation overtaking her country by a high-ranking Nazi who wishes to marry her. So when an escaped Jewish boy arrives on Elsie’s doorstep on Christmas Eve, Elsie understands that opening the door would put all she loves in danger.

Sixty years later, in El Paso, Texas, Reba Adams is trying to file a feel-good Christmas piece for the local magazine, and she sits down with the owner of Elsie's German Bakery for what she expects will be an easy interview. But Reba finds herself returning to the bakery again and again, anxious to find the heart of the story—a story that resonates with her own turbulent past. For Elsie, Reba’s questions are a stinging reminder of that last bleak year of World War II.

As the two women's lives become intertwined, both are forced to confront the uncomfortable truths of the past and seek out the courage to forgive.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307460196
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 08/14/2012
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 143,687
Product dimensions: 5.36(w) x 7.84(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

SARAH MCCOY is the New York Times bestselling author of the novel The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico. She has taught at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. The daughter of an Army officer, McCoy spent her childhood in Germany. She currently lives with her husband in El Paso, Texas.
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The Baker's Daughter: A Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 127 reviews.
tmurrell2 More than 1 year ago
Elsie and Reba are from different countries and different decades. But their lives come together when they need each other. Reba comes to interview Elsie about a German Christmas. The warmth of the bakery and possibly the people keep her coming back. This is the story of both women and the blessings they chose to pursue. Someone said this book was like Sarah's Key. It IS about Germany during the war and a little boy hidden in the wall. But that is where the similarity ends. This story takes the horrendous parts of war and blends it with the gems of beauty that live in every person. The story will draw you in and give you a glimpse into reality for Germans during the war. Life can be terrible. It's up to us to grasp the beauty and show it to others. This story tugged at my heartstrings. It made me smile, cry and be thankful for the beautiful world that I live in. It's a book I'll definitely be recommending to my friends. I received this book free of charge from Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fast read. Really enjoyed the WWII history of the book. The author really draws you into the parallel story lines, which causes you to not being able to put the book down. Highly Recommended!
AlbertG More than 1 year ago
The Baker's Daughter is the story of Elsie Schmidt, the teenage daughter of the local baker in a small German town during the end of World War II. The novel flashes from the present day where Elsie is living in Texas in her eighties and the time when she was a teenager. Also in this tale is the story of Reba Adams, a freelance journalist, who becomes a part of Elsie's story as she does background on a article she is writing on Christmas around the world. The is a dark novel in tone and depth and without much relief. But you will be drawn into it as the courage and strenght of Elsie flows through the pages until it infects even the brooding Reba and in so, will touch you as well. Early in the story Elsie is engaged to a German SS officer, knowing it will protect her family she agrees and in a quiet moment; she places the ring he has given her on her finger. Doing so she feels it scratch her, she takes it off and looks on the interior of the ring. There is an inscription that reads: Ani ledodi ve Dodi Li in Hebrew. She had been given the ring of a Jewish prisoner of war as her engagement ring. That very night a young boy comes into her life. Tobias, an escaped prisoner and Elsie must choose to protect the child and put her family and herself at risk or turn him over to the Gestapo where she knows he will be killed. The Baker's Daughter is the story of one woman's choice and impact it had on generations of those who would follow. A powerful and compelling read.
E_M_13423 More than 1 year ago
In a time span from 1944 to the late 2000's, the story takes place in both Garmisch, Germany, and El Paso, Texas. Reba Adams interviews Elsie and her daughter, Jane. This is a beautiful story, past and present, from Nazi Germany to modern day Texas, all that tells of heartbreak, family, friendship and grievous hardship. This will warm your heart and remain with you for quite a while!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very good and is a fast read.
AddyND More than 1 year ago
GREAT BOOK...I loved every page. Very educational even if it is fictional. I'm going to check out other books by Sarah McCoy.
jlking More than 1 year ago
Sarah McCoy's THE BAKER'S DAUGHTER is a powerful story, and a delightful read. The story unfolds in two contrasting time periods, told by two very different women: young and reckless Reba, a journalist in modern-day Texas, and 1940's Elsie, navigating the complex world of WWII Germany. McCoy's writing is real. I could taste the baked goods from the bakeries in both worlds, and I felt strongly for each of the character's journeys. Highly recommended, especially as a novel to talk about with friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is very hard to rate WWII holocaust books. The event is so horrific, how can the readers state the book is enjoyable, yet it was liked? I find myself in this connumdrum every time I read a book like this. This 335 page book was not what I was expecting. It was not really about the war or the holocaust, but about a German family of bakers living in Germany during the war and how they were affected by it. This is first book I have read where the point of view is told from the German's outlook, instead of the victim's. The main character is Elsie, a young girl, of sixteen at the beginning of the story. She has married, migrated to Texas and celebrates her 80th birthday by the end of the book. Elsie tells her life story to a magazine reporter and what starts out as a Christmas fluff article, spins into a much deeper and sometimes tramatic tale. The story spans the years 1942-2007. I paid $9.99 for this book. Was it worth it? I am not sure, it did not really teach me anything, nor can I say it was enjoyable, but I did like a lot of things about the book. It was well written, well researched, perfectly edited, unique in its depiction of a war family's fears and problems, had a great flow, was believable and held my interest. It also had a very adequate conclusion. In a way it was a romance. There was not any cursing, but there was sex and rape (undetailed) suicide, infantcide, child abuse, abortion, religion, violence, hunger and discussions of war camps and death of Jews. A mother really insulted her daughter by telling her she was acting like a Jewish. I never thought about this being an insult. I liked most of the characters except for the reporter. She was spoiled, unappreciative, self serving, selfish and ignored her family. This is a story for those interested in WWII history, ages 18 and up. AD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A different view of World War 2 Germany. With an equally interesting story line in 2007 Texas.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In 1945, during WWII in Garmisch, Germany, a girl named Elsie and her family were trying to survive. The German natives owned a bakery and were stuggling to make do with the ingredients that they had. Elsie's parents would like her to marry a high-ranking, German officer, after all the things he has done for them. She pretended to be engaged to Josef, to protect her and her family from the dangerous situations that she has created by helping a Jewish boy. Elsie and Tobias, the Jewish boy, would become respectable friends throughout the book. Sixty years later, in 2007; Elsie now owns a bakery in El Paso, Texas, with her daughter. One day they had a woman come in the bakery and ask if she could interview Elsie. Elsie was not to kin on it, but she decided to go along with it. It turns out that Reba, the interviewer, would come back frequently to enjoy some freshly baked goods and to hear a new, exciting story from Elsie. Come to find out, the two of them would have a great deal in common.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Author tries to weave too many lives and times into one book making it a clumsy and bumpy read. Very disappointing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting read just wish it didnt flip back and forth so much between the eras
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this story. As a Jewish woman, I have read many stories about Nazi germany but I enjoyed reading about what it was like being German and growing up there during that time. The author made me see the other side and I felt sympathetic and fear for these characters. The ending was excellent and brought tears. I look forward to reading more from this author.
nbmars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Quite a few books try to juxtapose two stories, past and present, but often one or the other of the segments doesn¿t work out so well. Not so with this book: both are very satisfactory, and moreover each parallels the other as the story progresses, to create a synergistic enhancement of the whole.The story from the past centers around 16-year-old Elsie Schmidt, the daughter in a family with a bakery in Garmisch, Germany at the time of World War II. Elsie has helped out in the bakery ever since her older sister, Hazel, left for Steinhoering to enter the Lebensborn Program.[This project was founded by Heinrich Himmler in 1935, with the goal of increasing the number of racially ¿pure¿ children in Germany. Himmler¿s idea was to encourage SS and army officers to ¿mate¿ with approved young women (i.e., blonde hair, blue eyes, and ¿pure¿ family lineage traceable back at least three generations. The children were then taken to nurseries, evaluated, and if they passed the test, they were given to SS families to raise. If not, they were eliminated. In The Baker¿s Daughter, Hazel goes to the first Lebensborn home that was opened; eventually there were ten of them. In order to maximize the results, Himmler ordered all SS and police to father as many children as possible. Still, it wasn¿t happening fast enough for Himmler. He then had the SS start kidnapping children from racially acceptable countries and transferring them to Lebensborn centers to be indoctrinated. If the children thus taken refused to cooperate, they were sent to extermination camps. (In 1946, it was estimated that more than 250,000 children were kidnapped from outside of Germany. After the war, only 25,000 were sent back to their families. In some cases, it was the children themselves who refused to go back, having been successfully converted by Nazi propaganda.)]We get a taste of what Hazel goes through from her correspondence with Elsie. But of course she must be circumspect in her letters, and so the full horror of being a brood mare in this system of legalized rape was not fully developed. But readers are given enough information to imagine what it may have been like.For Elsie, life is a bit better, but there is still the omnipresent threat of Nazis who are corrupt with power and the ability to eliminate those who stand in their way. One of these Nazis, Josef, nearly twice her age, asks her to marry him. He seems nicer than the others, though she doesn¿t love him. On the other hand, she realizes that an engagement to him is a way to provide protection for herself and her family. But on Christmas Eve, 1944, suddenly everything changes.In the present-day story, we meet Elsie 63 years later, running her own bakery in El Paso, Texas, along with her 45-year-old daughter Jane. Reba Adams, a local reporter, comes to the bakery to interview Elsie for a Christmas feature, and immediately bonds with Elsie and Jane. Reba is somewhat estranged from her own family, because of unresolved family traumas from her past. Her older sister Deedee urges her to stop judging: ¿let God be the judge.¿ She counsels: "We have to stop being afraid of the shadows and realize that the world is made up of shades of gray, light and darkness. Can¿t have one without the other.¿Reba¿s inability to see gray extends to herself: she is so afraid of any darkness within her that she has constructed an artificial persona to face the world. Therefore she too, like Elsie once did, struggles with an engagement to be married. Her boyfriend Riki loves her, but Reba fears actually marrying him. The Reba that Riki knows is a lie. Would he still love her if he knew who she really was?Riki has his own demons. He works for the Border Patrol in El Paso, and has to arrest and evict people who are only trying to survive. While not directly parallel to the case in World War II with Nazis arresting and evicting Jews, some of the same issues arise: when should the rule of law be forsaken in
whitreidtan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Literature is filled with the horrific, the brave, and the heartbeaking stories of World War II. But it isn't often that the story being told is of a person and a family who spent years being compliant with and even lauding Hitler's vision of a new and improved Germany. In Sarah McCoy's fantastic novel, Elsie Schmidt and her family, the bakers of the title, are just these people and her portrayal of them takes the normal black and white morality and turns it into just about every permutation of grey possible. Life is not pure good versus pure evil, why should fiction be?The novel opens with Reba Adams, a reporter in El Paso, Texas, trying to add more substance to her seasonal article about Christmas around the world by interviewing Elsie Schmidt, the owner of a popular German bakery in town. Reba is looking for something heartwarming and quotable but she finds Elsie reluctant to speak of Christmas in Germany where she was a teenager during the war. Elsie tells Reba that her memories of Christmas are not typical because of the war's deprivations and she is loathe to tell the full story of her last "crappy" Christmas in Germany before marrying an American soldier. Reba perseveres and when she discovers that her new friend Elsie had once been engaged to a Nazi officer, she is appalled, sharing her disbelief with her own fiance Riki, a strictly by the book Border Patrol agent who is starting to view his own job differently.Reba's life, her reluctance to set a date with Riki, her desire for a bigger, better job in a more vibrant city, and her family baggage alternates with Elsie's wartime letters to her older sister, one of the chosen, young, Aryan women who were a part of the Lebensborn program and supposed to bear children for the Reich. The biggest portion of the narrative though, is that of Elsie's life during 1944 and 1945 when Germany is fighting a losing battle and its people were scrambling for survival. It was then that Elsie, after attending a Christmas party for Nazi officers, is engaged, albeit reluctantly, to Lieutenant Colonel Josef Hub. It is also that Christmas that a young Jewish boy, the gifted singer at the Christmas party, escapes from his escort back to the camps and begs Elsie to hide him in return for the favor he did her earlier in the evening. Suddenly this family who has given one daughter to the cause and who relies on their connection to the Nazis in order to keep their bakery afloat is harboring an escaped Jew although that is unbeknownst to all but Elsie.The conflicts that Elsie and Reba feel in their heart of hearts, and in fact the creeping uncertainty that all of the major and minor characters come to feel about the policies under which they live and which they have vowed to uphold, are enormous and difficult. Elsie, despite her own initial Nazi sympathies, is a wonderful and sympathetic character and her ultimate Solomonic decision is the struggle you'd expect but completely in keeping with her character. Reba is a bit harder to understand although as her family history and the demons she's running from come out, this lessens. The historical portion of the novel is fascinating and the parallel between the Nazis and the immigration war is subtle. McCoy is not implying that the one is anywhere close to as reprehensible as the other but through her characters, she points out the moral ambiguity that surrounds any situation that might at first glance appear cut and dried. The book is well written and engaging and I found myself unable to put it down once I was fully invested in the story. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this slightly different perspective while book club readers will find many topics to consider in their discussions.
JanaRose1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book alternates between two stories. Reba Adams is a journalist living in Texas. She is trying to write a feel-good Christmas story for boss but is having trouble getting the story out of Elsie, a German Bakery owner. Reba is also experiencing problems with her fiancée and is looking to move up in her career.The second story is of Elsie, the Baker, when she was a teenager living in Germany during World War II. Her and her families baked for the Nazi's amidst food shortages, violence and unpredictable times. After attending a Nazi Christmas party, she finds herself hiding a young Jewish singer.Overall, I thought that the book was good. However, I wished it just told Elsie's story. I thought that Elsie's story was stronger and more interesting. I felt that the way Reba's storyline was intertwined took away from the emotional and stark problems of World War II.
BookDivasReads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It is perhaps human nature to believe that everyone that "supported" the Nazis were bad people. The truth is that many people were simply trapped in an environment where speaking out meant imprisonment, torture or death. Elsie's family operated a bakery in Germany during the war and they were simply trying to survive along with others in their community. Elsie's older sister had been taken into a "breeding" program and her sole purpose was to produce kids for the great Aryan nation. Elsie is left at home and as a teenager, she only wants to enjoy her teen years. Unfortunately she grows up fast when faced with unthinkable decisions, such as hide a young Jewish boy or report him in which case he'll surely die. To say that Elsie's life hasn't been easy is somewhat of an understatement, but she perseveres and ultimately winds up married to an American GI. She relocates to the US and eventually has a daughter and builds a business baking all of the foods she fondly recalls from Germany.Reba is only looking for a story on multi-cultural holiday celebrations when she enters Elsie's bakery. Reba is happy with her relationship with Riki, a US Border Patrol agent, but she isn't sure if she wants to marry him. Reba thinks she wants more from life than to stay in Texas and get married. It isn't until she gets everything she wants that she realizes she prefers simplicity and misses the love of her life, Riki.The Baker's Daughter is about much more than survival. It's about doing what feels right even if rules say it is wrong. Elsie faced this decision when she helped a young Jewish boy, feeding him, clothing him and ultimately helping him to escape. Riki faces a similar situation when dealing with families that are desperate to escape their lives in Mexico at any cost. Ms. McCoy has provided a stirring and heartfelt story with The Baker's Daughter. This isn't a fast read primarily because of the subject matter presented (World War II, anti-Semitism, illegal aliens, etc.), but it provides a thought-provoking albeit fictionalized glimpse into life that provided this reader with a slightly different perspective.
bearette24 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Warning: this is not chick lit, as the cover and title might imply. Instead, it's a comparison of Nazi Germany and the border situation in Texas and Mexico. Well-written, but not light.
Perednia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Families and dual storylines are getting to be rather common in popular and literary fiction these days. Both are important factors of an uncommonly good novel -- Sarah M. McCoy's The Baker's Daughter.The novel is more than one story and, indeed, it's even possible to make the case that more than one character is the baker's daughter. There is the obvious one -- Elsie is the daughter of a baker in a small German town where everyone struggles to survive as the Nazis gain power and as the war drags on. There also is Elsie's daughter, Jane, who works alongside her mother in a small town German bakery in Texas. And then there is a daughter of Elsie's heart, Reba, who comes to the bakery for what she thinks will be a quick interview about holiday traditions. Instead, Jane and Elsie befriend a woman who has closed off her heart, even with love from family and a good man staring her in the face.Young Elsie is the salt of the earth that leavens good bread. She is quiet yet not passive. She misses her sister, who is in a Nazi compound set up for Aryan breeding mares (the Lebensborn Program really existed). Her life is like Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale told from the viewpoint of proud family members boasting of their daughter's fate, not realizing until far too late what horrors and ruthless cruelty are there. In a grotesque pastiche of a whirlwind, fairy tale romance, a Nazi officer bestows his ring on Elsie, and this protects Elsie and her family. Josef is acting out of guilt from Kristallnacht. Elsie realizes she has to use the gift of his protection even as she feels guilt for not loving him.Elsie does something far braver when fate presents the opportunity to do so. It's an impulsive move, but she shows true strength in perservering with the consequences of her act.In the present time, Reba also is separated from her sister, but it's a voluntary move. Their father was haunted by what he did in Vietnam, and Reba discovers exactly how haunting what he did was. The parallel with the German officer's guilt is but one of many parallels in the novel. None of the acts or characters are exact matches, but they do offer varying perspectives on such big ideas as honor, duty and fealty. Reba leaves her home because she wants to leave behind the hurt, although her sister continues to reach out to her.Another man has guilt over what he once believed in. Reba's fiancee is a border agent. As an American citizen who is Hispanic, Riki believes he is doing the right thing by finding and helping deport people back across the U.S.-Mexican border. Until a young boy grabs his heart.The Baker's Daughter is written with a light touch about drastic events that really happened or could have happened. People's lives are altered forever in seconds. People try to do the right thing. They feel guilt. They feel sorrow. Their paths, decades apart, show similar trajectories about the big ideas without making direct comparisons. The border patrol agents, for instance, is not likened to S.S. officers. But the reader knows that the actions dictated by both jobs can lead to similar misery for the people they hunt, that families can be torn apart and that tragedy can occur.It is this ability to show how history repeats itself in the way people are treated, the way they are condemned not because of who they are but because of what they represent to those with the power, and the ability to let readers draw their own conclusions about individual characters and how their choices can work in with or challenge the power structure, that demonstrate lasting power of McCoy's novel.There is much sweetness and coming together in the novel. There are touching moments and characters doing the right thing by others. There are the sins of the past to be mourned. But underneath that are the movements of society in how people in power treat those without any.So enjoy the food descriptions -- which are rendered with loving care by someone who obviously knows her way around a ki
BrokenTeepee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There is a strong story in this book, but there should have been two strong stories. Ms. McCoy intersects the lives of Elsie and her daughter Jane who own a bakery in El Paso, Texas, with reporter Reba and her sometime fiance Riki, a border patrol agent. Elsie was a teenager during WWII. An ordinary German girl caught up in what were not ordinary times. She did not understand the politics of Hitler, she only knew what she was told at home. One night after coming home from her first ball with an officer of the Reich a young Jewish boy appears on her doorstep. Suddenly what she has been told about Jews conflicts with the starving child in front of her. How can this skinny boy be evil?Elsie changes that night in many ways and those changes carry her forward through the war and into her new life in America. She always remains a baker though, finding comfort and power in the ritual and constancy of flour and yeast.Reba grew up in a household with a father forever changed by his experiences in war. He came back unable to deal with life and created an abusive environment in the house. Her sister ignored it and escaped, her mother just dealt with it but nobody talked about it leaving Reba unable to form a lasting relationship with any man; including the man she said she would marry, Riki. Riki, a legal Hispanic man is very conflicted about the illegal aliens and had found his work with the Border Patrol fulfilling until a young boy is accidentally killed. He starts rethinking his priorities as Reba calls off the engagement and moves away.Elsie's story was definitely more compelling than Reba's. It had much more depth and was told with more attention to detail than Reba's. It was almost as if Reba's was a filled in afterthought. She was not very likable as a character and I just couldn't feel much for her one way or the other. I truly didn't care. I wanted MORE of Elsie and much more of Jane! And I feel as if their stories were given a hatchet job to try and tie a relevant bow around Reba and Elsie.It wasn't the worst book I have ever read but it wasn't one I read with lots of enthusiasm either.
rapikk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Elsie is a baker¿s daughter in 1945 Germany. Her family is somewhat sheltered from the realities of the war by her older sister¿s participation in the Nazi Lebensborn (breeding) program, and the attentions of a Nazi official. When a Jewish boy follows Elsie home and asks for shelter, she must decide whether to continue being her family¿s daughter, or if she should choose for herself what is right.In modern day Texas, Reba meets Elsie, now a bakery owner with a daughter of her own. Reba discovers that the seemingly simple task of interviewing Elsie for a newspaper article opens a floodgate of emotions for both herself and Elsie. Together, the two women reveal pieces of their own stories to each other, and find a way to make peace with the past and the present.Told in alternating points of view from young Elsie and present day Reba, this novel is hard to put down. While not quite as suspenseful as Sarah¿s Key, the story is well-written, and the characters struggle with similar issues of right, wrong and what we can and should do about it.
TheLostEntwife on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When it comes to WWII novels, several sides really get highlighted in novels about the subject - but one side that doesn't receive a whole lot of attention is that of the side of the innocently guilty - being those German's who were somewhat aware, but not really aware, of what was going on - and even if they were aware, what could they do?The answer to that question is explored through the story of a young German girl who takes one fateful step that transforms her life. Through her actions, the letters she receives, the portrait of her family life, the atrocities of Hitler's reign are given new meaning. But in spite of the subject matter, Sarah McCoy manages to infuse the story with new life - contrasting current day Texas and the struggles with illegal immigrants with the struggles in Germany. A parallel is found between old and young, and the best part - it happens in a bakery where the most mouth-watering goods are prepared. (And don't worry, there's detailed recipes at the back of the book!)I thoroughly enjoyed this story by Sarah McCoy. I found it to be extremely well-written, the characters to be easy to sympathize with, and the ending was one that left me with a good feeling of satisfaction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book
coinslot330 More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago