Audrey, the Baker's Wife, races against time as she attempts to determine just what happened when her car struck a motor scooter in an early morning foggy intersection. The scooter is wrecked, blood is everywhere _ and there is no body in sight. The situation is complicated by the conflict between Audrey's husband (the baker) and the detective whose wife owned the scooter. The tension between the two men is not new: accusations by the detective cost the baker his earlier career as a pastor. When the detective cracks, and takes Audrey's husband and son hostage along with some bakery employees and patrons, Audrey must use her ability to empathize with others' pain to solve the mystery and release the hostages, aided only by an anxious ex con with her own agenda, and a sneering teen who despises all that Audrey stands for.
The Baker's Wife shows a sharp contrast between two men: one who interprets the letter of the Old Testament law very literally, and uses it to judge and try to control the actions of others, and the other who lives a live governed by the love of Christ, and attempts to demonstrate it to everyone who crosses his path. I appreciated that contrast, as well as the skill shown by the writer as she wove the lives of her characters together, but this book did not appeal to me as strongly as I thought it might. The protagonist's ability to feel others' agony in excruciating detail didn't strike me as real, and stopped me from getting caught in the story line. I finished the book, but it didn't inspire me with a desire to go and find others by the same author.
This was a strange book that I had trouble tracking with, at first. I finished the introductory chapter and then after not "getting" it, reread it again, then one more time as it finally made sense to me (the tie-in,) but that wasn't until I reached about page 100. I found the whole concept and premise a bit odd....that the main character had the ability to feel someone else's pain. And when that mirror-mirror on the wall scene happened it was a bit freaky. I loved the idea of the story about a hostage situation and a woman who was formerly a pastor's wife, but it didn't end up being anything like what I had anticipated. The writing style reminded me of Sibella Giorello's books. So if you love her style of writing and plotting, then you will love this book. I'm just not a fan of this style.
I did read The Baker's Wife in one sitting. It held my attention and it had some interesting spiritual plot points to it, like contrasting the difference between rigid legalism and grace. It's just not the kind of book that I normally love to read, so it was a bit of a disappointment. I guess for me a book has to be believable and I never bought into the empathy part of the suspense and didn't feel a connection to the characters. But that was probably just me and my personal reading tastes. Again, anyone who enjoys Sibella's writing style will love this book because the feel is very similar. The ending had a decent resolution to it, with no loose strings to tie up.
I was captured by this novel in the first chapter. It kept me reading late into the night.
Geoff and his wife Audrey were pastor and wife until a legalistic member of the church board, Jack, convinced the church that Geoff should be fired. The accusations were lies, but Geoff decided not to fight them. He and Audrey had baked bread as a relaxing hobby and they now turned to is as a business. He became the baker and she became the baker's wife.
Audrey senses the pain of others in an intense manner. She might feel intense abdominal pain and know that she was to visit that person with stomach cancer, and take them a loaf of their homemade bread.
Geoff and Audrey lived in the Great Central Valley of California which was often a bowl of foggy soup. One early morning as Audrey and her son are on the way to the bakery, in the darkness of predawn fog, Audrey hits another vehicle. It turns out to be a scooter, the scooter of Jack's wife. And there is blood, so much blood. But there is no body.
This begins the mystery. Jack's wife Julie is nowhere to be found. DNA proves the blood to be Julie's but where could she have gone being so injured? Jack is convinced Geoff and Audrey have killed or at least kidnapped his wife in revenge. The suspense comes to a peak as Jack threatens to kill Geoff and his son if Audrey does not find Julie by a certain time. He believes he is God's arm of justice toward those who have sinned so grievously.
Can Audrey follow the leading of the Spirit and find Julie before it is too late?
Healy has woven an exceptional tight and suspenseful novel. Her writing compelled me to turn pages and become lost in the story. What a wordsmith!
There are many issues of faith to think about as this novel is devoured. How does one listen to the Spirit and obey? Should one wage a defense when wrongly accused or allow God to work it out in His time? How does God meet out justice in this life, or does He? And those are just a few. Healy has added a Reading Group Guide at the back and this would make a great book for group reading and discussion.
Unlike other novels where Christianity is a relevant but rather unimportant part of the plot, this novel centers around the individual's Christian faith and experience. It is very thought provoking. It has given me pause to think about how I sense the Spirit's leading and how I obey. I think this is rare for a novel.
I highly recommend this novel.
I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review.
A malicious scandal ousts Geoff and Audrey Bofingers from the church he was pastoring, so they opened the Rise and Shine bakery, something they had been doing on a small scale from their home. A vengeful police detective and church member, Jack Mansfield, takes it to a higher lever after the pastor's wife hits his wife's (Julie) motor scooter. A pool of blood-Julie Mansfield's blood-is found in abundance at the accident scene, but there's no trace of a body! Jack is absolutely positive Audrey is behind Julie's disappearance.
Diane Hall, an ex-con, returns to her hometown of Cornucopia, CA, the day that Julie's scooter is hit. Julie, known also as Juliet in high school, was a classmate with Diane. Geoff gives her a second chance and hires her part-time at the bakery, and she becomes an integral part of the storyline. As does Ed, Geoff and Audrey's son.
The weather in this California area is often inundated with a heavy, dense fog that makes driving next to zero visibility. It was on a day like this that the accident occurred. Since the evidence against Audrey is only circumstantial, Detective Mansfield goes ballistic, a rage verging on insanity.
Erin Healy, in The Baker's Wife, sets into action the multiple scenarios that keep you speculating on the accident scene; the bizarre disappearance of Julie Mansfield; Audrey's â€˜gift' of sensing others' pain; and the meltdown of Detective Jack Mansfield. The scenes are well established and described. The intensity is off the charts, particularly the detective's meltdown! The characters' personalities are delicately, yet deliberately unraveled before our eyes, making them as real as we ourselves.
Steadfast love, compassion and forgiveness flows through the lives of Geoff and Audrey despite the circumstances culminating around them. Geoff's pastor's heart never leaves regardless of the outcome. The challenge is whether we will stand firm with the Lord through persecution, outlandish scandals, judgmental attitudes, and dangers thrown our way. It's a story of second chances. Of God forgiveness to us many times over if we are repentant. Are you ready to trust in Him?
This book was provided by Booksneeze in exchange for my honest opinion. No monetary compensation was exchanged.
Erin Healy creates an amazing, intricate story in The Baker's Wife. Audrey and her husband Geoff's world is turned upside down when an their church fires Geoff, the pastor. Dealing with the shame of a personal scandal, trying to hold their family together, moving, and starting a new business, Audrey and Geoff are hanging on by a thread. Life gets even more difficult when Audrey is involved in an accident and the body of the other driver can't be found. The victim's husband - a detective and elder at their former church - comes to their bakery and declares he will hold everyone hostage until Audrey can produce his wife's body. Audrey must rely on a troubled teen and a woman recently released from prison to help her find the victim before her husband and son die.
To say that the plot is detailed is an understatement. However, Healy tells the story in such a way that it kept me flipping pages furiously. The characters are amazingly well-developed. Each character really seems like a real person - with flaws, problems, hopes, dreams. As the drama builds and the pieces fall into place, readers will feel a wide range of emotions as they learn more about each character.
While the story was incredible, there was one thing that I wasn't quite sure how to deal with. Audrey gets these "feelings" and sometimes actual injuries that mimic those of other people. She feels that these are used by God to show her who she should be ministering to. I love the thought of being really in-tune with God and the ministry she has with her bread baking. However, it felt kind of strange in a Christian book. I wasn't sure if these feelings/injuries were psychic-type visions or prophecy or what. I probably wouldn't have felt so strange about it if it was in a secular book. As it is, I just wasn't sure what to think.
Overall, though, I really did enjoy the book and will gladly read another book by Erin Healy.
I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my fair and honest review.