The Baker's Daughter Summary & Study Guide

Sarah McCoy
This Study Guide consists of approximately 48 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Baker's Daughter.
This section contains 663 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Baker's Daughter Summary & Study Guide Description

The Baker's Daughter Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: McCoy, Sarah. The Baker’s Daughter. Broadway Books/Crown Publishing/Random House. 2012.

The Baker’s Daughter, an historic novel by Sarah McCoy, is comprised of two parallel stories. In the novel, seventeen year-old Elsie, who is living in Nazi Germany, seeks to survive the war as she hides a Jewish boy. The second story is about Reba, an editor who lives in contemporary America. Elsie's and Reba's stories intertwine.when Reba seeks to interview the now-eighty year-old Elsie for a Christmas story.

As the novel begins, readers are introduced to seventeen year-old Elsie and Reba, both in their respective times. Seventeen year-old Elsie is an unenthusiastic Nazi living in Garmisch, Germany. Elsie's pro-Nazi parents run a bakery, and her older sister (Hazel) is in the Lebensborn Program. In the Lebensborn Program, girls are impregnated by SS officers to produce Aryan children. Elsie finds herself engaged to SS officer Josef Hub. While Elsie likes Josef and knows the marriage would be a good match, she is not in love with him. Josef, for his part, is constantly wracked by guilt between his moral conscience and what the Nazi Party expects of him, though on the surface he exudes a cool demeanor.

When the war comes to a close, Elsie shelters a Jewish boy named Tobias. She is brutally raped by an SS officer investigating the possibility she has sheltered a Jewish child, and her engagement to Josef ends when the Americans arrive in town. Sheltering Tobias has awakened Elsie to the horrors of even unenthusiastic Nazism, and she imagines Josef is only evil. Elsie begins seeing an American soldier named Robby, whom she ends up pregnant by. Elsie’s mother helps her to force an abortion with poisonous tea, but Elsie ends up poisoning herself as well. Only the intervention of American doctor Al Meriwether saves Elsie’s life. Though Al is much older than Elsie, she quickly falls for Al. The two marry and moving back to the United States. Elsie opens a German-styled bakery in El Paso and has a daughter named Jane who comes to help her at the bakery in later years. Only later does Elsie come to pray for Josef and to ask forgiveness for him for the past, realizing that not everything is always black and white.

In 2007, the now-widowed Elsie continues to work in her bakery alongside Jane. The bakery is visited by Reba Adams, who is doing a Christmas story for Sun City Magazine. Through befriending and interviewing Elsie, Reba comes to learn about the past and the present. Elsie and Jane also recognize that Reba is carrying doubts. Though engaged to a good man, an American Border Patrol agent named Riki Chavez, Reba wears his engagement ring as a necklace rather than on her finger. She worries about the future and does not want to be stuck in El Paso forever.

While Riki seems content to stay in El Paso, he has struggles with his own work as an agent. He is a proud, patriotic American, but he feels bad about having to deport people to Mexico. Also, after struggling with Reba’s reluctance in the engagement, he finally moves out to give her some space. Reba goes on to get a job as an editor in San Francisco. That experience turns out to be everything she does not want, and she misses Riki.

When word comes that Elsie has passed away, Reba returns to El Paso for the funeral. While there, she and Riki reconnect. Riki explains he has quit Border Patrol, while Reba says she has quit her editing job as well. Reba and Riki reconnect, and Reba returns to El Paso to set a wedding date. The novel ends with Jane mailing a dozen of Elsie’s recipes to Reba in honor of the upcoming wedding. She confirms that she will bake the wedding cake.

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