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 in the dead of night 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. Reba is perpetually on the run from memories of a turbulent childhood, but she’s been in El Paso long enough to get a full-time job and a fianc, Riki Chavez. Riki, an agent with the U.S. Border Patrol, finds comfort in strict rules and regulations, whereas Reba feels that lines are often blurred.
Reba’s latest assignment has brought her to the shop of an elderly baker across town. The interview should take a few hours at most, but the owner of Elsie’s German Bakery is no easy subject. Reba finds herself returning to the bakery again and again, anxious to find the heart of the story. For Elsie, Reba’s questions are a stinging reminder of darker times: her life in Germany during that last bleak year of WWII. And as Elsie, Reba, and Riki’s lives become more intertwined, all are forced to confront the uncomfortable truths of the past and seek out the courage to forgive.
©2012 Sarah McCoy (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
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First time author for me. My wife and I listened to this together and both thought it was great. It was well crafted in how the author went back and forth from Garmisch, Germany during the war to present day El Paso, TX and sometimes in between, telling the story of the different characters at the different times. There were parallels during the different times but an overriding there was forgiveness and forgiving oneself. It was a very touching story and I recommend it highly. I read one review as I started the book where the reviewer commented that World War II themes were getting worn out and I disagree with that statement. There were so many different aspects to that war, the different stories that can come out of that dreadful event will likely never stop. Enjoy
"Two intertwining stories"
I liked Elsie's story much better than Reba's; I couldn't understand Reba's motivations, but Elsie's progression was natural.
I do agree with one reviewer that Reba as a character was really self-involved, and I couldn't understand why Ricky would put up with her. I loved Elsie as a character, because she cut through all the crap and got right down to business.
Elisabeth Rodgers was a good narrator, though I found her German pronunciation was clunky in places.
This is a worthwhile read, intertwining, bittersweet, and well-done.
"All that's Ugly About War & a Big Dose of Courage"
One of the best WWII stories yet, written about a normal German family who owns and runs a bakery and is trying to survive during the war . . . the story takes place in beautiful Garmisch, Germany, surrounded by the Bavarian Alps and where just a few years earlier, in 1936, the winter Olympics were held. Now, in 1945, it's a different Germany and a different world . . . Elsie, the youngest daughter of the baker, just seventeen years old is invited to her first Nazi ball . . . her parents are so proud . . . and a tiny young Jewish boy, brought out of the concentration camp to entertain the Nazis, sings like an angel at the ball . . . what a voice!!! Are they really going to send that boy back? Elsie begins a journey that Christmas Eve that changes her life forever . . . no longer a naive girl, the choices she makes may cost her everything. This is a well written story, correlating between two time frames, the 1940s and sixty years later in El Paso, Texas. It boils the brutal truths of war down to simple choices that each person makes, one day at a time. Shows us that we each have a responsibility, even when the whole situation seems enormous and out of our control. That if we each do what we can, when we can, it really does matter. This book will stay with me for a very long time.
I liked how the characters developed. While growing their characters in the present tense and with sneaking glimpses of their past, we see how all of these experiences shaped the people they became--always evolving.
Elsie-- strong and courageous during a dark time.
Yes. It was hard to put down.
"Decent story ruined by the performer."
The alternating between two character and two different times in history was very effective.
No. Never. I found her performance to be overly dramatic. Enough with the high school drama school voices. Just read the story, for crying out loud. If you can't do accents that sound authentic, please don't do them at all.
I really enjoyed Elsie's story. I thought it was fascinating. I would give those sections of the book 5 stars. I just couldn't get into the character of Reba, though. She annoyed me to no end and after a short while I found it torture listening to her sections of the book. I found her story boring and rather pointless.
It's hard to find a book of this caliber. I wish every novel I read was this rich and well told. Also, the narrator did a fantastic job. It was a sad story with a happy ending.
Loved this book. The audio version was perfectly read as well adding to the impact. McCoy's characters have great depth. Can't wait to read next offering!
This book was really good. Reading about the whole Hitler thing can make one very tired - but this book offeeed a great balance between the horrors of war and the sometimes overwhelming uncertainty that comes along with just being alive and trying not to make mistakes (for yourself and for others as a result if your decisions)... It is a book that in the emd is alot of what it feels like to be human... Good book
"Engrossing story spanning multiple generations!"
This story of human love, tragedy and perseverance keep me interested. I loved the humorous true to life interjections that made me laugh out loud. Anyone who is interested in historical fiction will learn something from this story!
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