[Review] The French Baker’s War by Michael Whatling

Publisher and Publication Date: Mortal Coil Books. April 18, 2021.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: The paperback has 298 pages.
Format: E-book.
Source: I received a complimentary e-book from NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction. Readers of World War II and Holocaust stories.
Rating: Okay to good.

Link @ Amazon.

Michael Whatling’s Goodreads author page.

Summary:

Andre and Mireille Albert are husband and wife. They own a bakery. They have a young son named Frederic. The name of their bakery is Patisserie Saint-Lery. They live in the town of Saint-Lery d-Espoir’s place de villle in Occupied France.
On October 19, 1943, Mireille became missing. Andre found his son. He found a strange, young woman hiding, but his wife is gone. Andre doesn’t know what has happened? He doesn’t know what to do about his wife’s absence? He doesn’t know what to do about this new woman? Andre is shocked and fearful. He is aghast at what to do?
The story is a daily journal of this time period in the life of the Albert family and the new woman whose name is Emilie.
The story is a mystery. For most of the story, the reader does not know what is going on in this family.
Andre and Mireille are a couple who are in partnership as husband and wife, as parents, and in their bakery. They are also a couple who are in love with one another. They are a close couple with a long history.

My Thoughts:

I have mixed feelings about this story. There are things I like about the story and things I dislike.

What I like:
1. The setting is in a small town in France.
2. I like the time period: World War II.
3. I like the married couple who are in love with one another. I like the long history they have. They are a respected and admired couple in town.
4. I understand the form of the story. I understand the plot.
5. This story is inspired by a true story.

What I dislike:
1. Andre is a loving husband and father. He is a respectable person. However, he is distraught through most of the story. And he is distracted. And he is at times frozen with the inability to make a decision. His behavior causes an annoyance and angst in me. I wish he had been a take charge person. I wish he’d been aggressive earlier in the story about a well-formed decision and carrying it out. I understand his character as the despondent husband, but I wanted more from him.
2. The story is filled with what if questions. What if a spouse goes missing, and a new character similar to the one missing shows up? What if both female characters are in trouble? What if feelings develop with the new character? What if this new person and the rest of the family bond? What happens if the missing person returns? The story is based on what ifs. What if is the foundation of the story. But it is that question that keeps me reading…that pulls me in.
3. The story does not have a satisfying or solid closure. I think that I know what happens but it ends loosely.
4. I’d like more of Mireille’s story. Her voice is in the first chapter. Emilie finally tells me her story. What about Frederic? I understand he is a child, but I’d like to have an area in the book where he narrates. His testimony is important.
5. For me there is something missing in this story. Yes, one of the characters is missing, but there is something else missing. Is it possible that the tone of the story: a frantic atmosphere of what ifs dominate the story so much that I am not pulled into the individual characters heartaches, fears, and ultimate decisions? Another words: the tone of the story rules.



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