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.
I love books!
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
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.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
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.
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.
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!
I really enjoyed most of the book but it was rather long and drawn out. If it would have ended about 3/4 the way through it would have been much better. Elsie's story was good, Ruby's was mediocre.
Love reading, especially audio books!
It's hard to say, I've listened to so many books. Top 50, maybe. It's a very good story, and a very good narrator.
Elsie. She was a beautiful person who cared so much and her humor was so cute!
Jane, Elsie's daughter.
Yes, but a little long to read in one sitting.
It was very interesting to read a book about Nazi Germany from the side of non-Jewish German people. but mostly sympathetic Germans. I know there were also many non Jews in Germany who went along with the Third Reich, because they feared them.
I noticed the parallels between Nazi Germany's politics and the politics of current day US immigration policies. Deporting one group of peoples from a country based on their heritage is still being used as a political solution. Rikki gave up his job with the Border Patrol and Elsie sheltered a Jewish boy. An interesting parallel in human courage. I also enjoyed the glimpse into the life of people in Berlin as WWII is drawing to a close. Even people who agreed with the Nazi government were short on rations. Notes on specific food shortages - meat, sugar, etc. - and how the people survived without them were interesting.
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