In 1870, Lisette Vigneau, a daughter of privilege in Paris, lives a comfortable life. She is basically a prisoner in her own home as her parents feel it is dangerous for her to be out alone. The Prussians have surrounded the city and there are shortages of everything. When an opportunity to leave the house arises, she takes full advantage. But things went badly quickly and had it not been for National Guardsman Theodore Fournier she might not have survived her outing. Whether it was fate or coincidence, that one encounter determined the path her life would take. She becomes a member of the working-class people of Montmartre when she opens a bakery and devotes herself to providing at least some nourishment to the community.
In 1946, nineteen-year-old Micheline Chartier finds herself in a situation she never could have imagined. Her father died early in the war and two years ago her mother simply vanished. She is now the sole supporter of her two younger sisters. Her parents owned the building she lives in and the restaurant below their apartment has provided a means of income, but when the tenant leaves without notice Micheline is devastated. A family friend encourages her to open a bakery in the now available space and generously becomes her benefactor by paying her tuition at a baking academy. It is there she meets Laurent, a man who will change her life.
Told in two different timelines, the stories of Lisette and her great-granddaughter Micheline are beautifully presented. The character development is excellent. As readers are drawn into their lives, we follow along as they experience loss and face almost insurmountable obstacles. They question their own strength and capabilities. Even though they lived decades apart and there was never verbal communication between them, it becomes obvious that there are commonalities and Lisette's legacy becomes very clear.
Masterfully told, A BAKERY IN PARIS, by Aimie K. Runyon, is a work of intriguing historical fiction. It brings to life two difficult times in Paris and two women who tried to survive by living the best lives they could and by nourishing those who needed it. Memorable and engrossing, this book is well worth reading. Highly recommended.
From the author of The School for German Brides, this captivating historical novel set in nineteenth-century and post–World War II Paris follows two fierce women of the same family, generations apart, who find that their futures lie in the four walls of a simple bakery in a tiny corner of Montmartre.
1870: The Prussians are at the city gates, intent to starve Paris into submission. Lisette Vigneau—headstrong, willful, and often ignored by her wealthy parents—awaits the outcome of the war from her parents’ grand home in the Place Royale in the very heart of the city. When an excursion throws her into the path of a revolutionary National Guardsman, Théodore Fournier, her destiny is forever changed. She gives up her life of luxury to join in the fight for a Paris of the People. She opens a small bakery with the hopes of being a vital boon to the impoverished neighborhood in its hour of need. When the city falls into famine, and then rebellion, her resolve to give up the comforts of her past life is sorely tested.
1946: Nineteen-year-old Micheline Chartier is coping with the loss of her father and the disappearance of her mother during the war. In their absence, she is charged with the raising of her two younger sisters. At the hand of a well-meaning neighbor, Micheline finds herself enrolled in a prestigious baking academy with her entire life mapped out for her. Feeling trapped and desperately unequal to the task of raising two young girls, she becomes obsessed with finding her mother. Her classmate at the academy, Laurent Tanet, may be the only one capable of helping Micheline move on from the past and begin creating a future for herself.
Both women must grapple with loss, learn to accept love, and face impossible choices armed with little more than their courage and a belief that a bit of flour, yeast, sugar, and love can bring about a revolution of their own.