This is another great WWII novel, it is a bit different than the others I have read in that it is a bit more of a storyline amongst family life during that time. André Albert has a pastry shop that him and his wife run, although with the war and rations, it is getting harder and harder to fill their bakery with various pastries. They’ve learned to cut back and how to change recipes to use what is available to them as time goes on and the war starts to accelerate.
After striking out for baking supplies for the bakery, André returns home to an odd, unsettling scene. Their non-talking four year old son is outside, the door to the baker is left wide open and his wife is no where to be found. But her apron is laying in the street, abandoned in a haste it appears. Frantic, and becoming more and more worried, André cannot find her, and no one will talk. Everyone claims they did not see anything and no one is helping him.
Not only does he have a missing wife, and upset child missing their mother- upon his return a starving, dirty Jewish woman was hiding behind one of the bakery cases. Quickly realizing he is all on his own in finding his wife, he does the right thing and allows the woman to stay- she is helping comfort his son after all and has showed she means no harm. André has a caring heart, and his wife would want him to help this woman as well.
As André begins to do his own interviewing of others in the area, he starts to fear the worse. Not only was his wife more than likely taken against her will, there is a missing Jewish woman the Nazi’s are looking for, and they’ve been in his bakery acting as though they want to help look into his missing wife, or are they? Is this worth risking his and his son’s life and will he ever find his wife, or the truth behind what happened to her?
Thank you to the author for sending me a free copy in exchange for my honest review. 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!
~ About the Book~
“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.
Publisher: Mortal Coil Books Date: April 14, 2021
~ Goodreads – About the Author ~
Michael Whatling began his career as a technical writer for engineering firms in Canada and Japan. Leaving to teach at the secondary and university levels, he returned to writing by penning A Vigil for Joe Rose, a collection of young adult short stories, based on his doctoral research, that made the American Library Association’s Rainbow List.
He’s the writer of the award-winning independent film, “The Dancing Dogs of Dombrova.”