Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Baker`s Daughter by Sarah McCoy

This is one of those very special books in that you could give or gift it to almost anyone over say 16 and they would love it. It is a wonderful story told so very well by an author who obviously does know how to write and do it well and who is able to link and make real an intergenerational story that  starts in 1945 in Nazi Germany and ends in El Paso Texas in 2008.
The story of the Schmidt's in Germany is such a touching, poignant story, a story that takes you through some very dark and gritty days indeed but a story that lights your spirit and shares the kindness and goodness that can occur even when risk is far more than greater. Quite frankly it did that very rare thing with me, it made me cry to think that people would risk their lives to save another in circumstances where it would be very easy to simply turn and walk away, however I did need to keep in mind that some kindness came with an agenda and the Schmidt`s were spared some difficulties because of their daughter`s beauty. Intertwined with Elsie`s story after she leaves Germany is the story of Reba Adams and although her challenges are of a different nature, Elsie`s role in her life is pivotal and inspires a truthfulness and a seeking which alters lives.
The characters are beautifully drawn and so real that they could be your Grandparents, friends or neighbours or in a couple of examples your worst enemy. This book draws on a  life affirming simplicity to tell its tale, love is bigger than all and reveals its self in many forms and unexpected ways. Never dull and never gloomy the tale draws you in right from the beginning. opens history`s door and takes you on a journey that has many sharp turns and decisive moments, and many characters who reveal themselves in unexpected ways, it also shows us that the desire to protect is a very strong one and even if we might make a choice that with hindsight is perhaps not right, time and happenstance can right a wrong and truth will out. Where does one start when it comes to  food which is another key element, if I had have been able to find a Bakery open at 10 at night in Aucks, I may have eaten my way to serious damage, one could simply smell the food wafting from the page and I found it particularly heartwarming that the author was able to use food in such a comforting way and also her ability to show the meaning in a non judgemental way of food in the every day cycle of life.
Grief and Healing are very real in this book especially during the Nazi  years when so many ordinary folk who thought they were making the right decision found later and with hindsight that they hadn`t and that there was a price to pay, equally modern life throws up many conundrums and many of us will face the same challenges but from a different force as we traverse life. Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, Love and Healing, Faith and Duty, Longing and Desire, Compassion and Redemption are all so beautifully weaved through this very well plotted novel.
I would wish to point out that this books ability to comfort resonates with me in a very particular way. The day after I began reading this book, our  Principal had to call us into the Staff Room at the School where I work and tell us that an 11 year old boy who had finished the year at ROPS on December 15th had passed away that morning, a fortnight after being diagnosed with Leukemia, I cannot think of a better book to be reading when such a dreadful thing happened, it highlighted for me the preciousness of life, no matter the time or place in which it is lived.
Available through the Library System, I  have a feeling this book will be released in New Zealand fairly soon in a soft cover edition, it is a great read and as I said earlier it would make a wonderful gift especially for someone you may know who is going through a rough time.Plus it has recipes in the back, so if you bake....

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