Unfortunately, the complicated facets of Emma's character are what are missing from most of the other villagers- and Nazis- in the novel. The Germans are mostly just one- dimensional baddies, which I can accept because someone living under their cruelty might very well regard their oppressors as uniformly evil. The problem is, most of the villagers are also character types rather than individuals: the outwardly gruff baker with the heart of gold, the slimy bureaucrat/collaborator, the fiesty barkeep/innkeeper who's in the Resistance... you get the idea. They never seem to come off the page as real people; they're mostly cliches. Though I think the book does give a good sense of the mingled resentment, shame, resignation, and defiance felt by the villagers about the occupation and the occupiers.
One of the characters who shows some promise early on is the local priest who is wrestling with his spiritual conscience. He is genuinely grief-stricken over the villagers killed by the Nazis: he's burying people whom he baptized as babies years before. At the same time, some of the Germans stationed in the village are practicing Catholics and the priest refuses to deny them communion, which understandably enrages the faithful who are suffering under the boot of these occupiers. Unfortunately, he appears only periodically and not much is done with his character so it's kind of a waste.
As I said, Kiernan seems to be a good writer but his sometimes almost lyrical or dreamlike descriptive writing seems to clash with sudden incidents of ugly violent realism, such as the murder of Ezra or the execution of a member of the Resistance and the subsequent rape of his wife. Perhaps this was a conscious choice by the writer, contrasting the ghastly brutality with the beauty of the French countryside, but it was jarring and didn't always work for me. What does work is his description of the Allied forces landing on the local beach on D Day, a section of the book which is skillfully written, horrific yet moving, giving a clear picture of the cost in human lives that taking Europe back from the Nazis would require.
To sum up, I found The Baker's Secret to be well written but a bit uneven. I bought Emmanuelle and the priest as real people, but other characters lacked their development. The sudden shifts from bucolic village life to vile savagery sometimes worked for me but frequently didn't, yet the portion of the book describing the bloody DDay invasion is probably the best part of the novel.