What a journey to see how Kiernan's writing and level of sophistication just keeps getting better. This one is his best work yet. Reminiscent of books like All the Light We Cannot See (with a dash of Babette's Feast - I can almost the bread and of course the boiled pig), Kiernan traces a tale of a young baker's apprentice in a small coastal town in France near the Normandy Beaches occupied by the Nazis prior to the invasion that seems like it will never come. Though she asserts she's not officially part of the resistance, she has the uncanny ability to feel people's wants and needs and by knowing every back path of the village and countryside, she runs a black market bartering ring that literally keeps the villagers alive. We see the declining days of the occupation through the eyes of the inhabitants as they slowly starve to death under the Germans while their spirit stays alive through signs of passive/aggressive resistance from smuggling to the small "V"s found all over the village (and on the bottom side of every loaf of bread the protagonist bakes).
Though there are some horrific scenes of Nazi atrocities, Kiernan humanizes the drama which plays out on the small screen of Verbier with its many memorable characters, many of whom will stay with you long after the final page is turned. A very mature novel, well paced and well told.