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Friday, February 19, 2010

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay

Genre: Historical Fiction

Copyright: 2007

Pages: 293

Rating: 4.5/5 Crowns

Book Synopsis: Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

First Sentence: The girl was the first to hear the loud pounding on the door.

Book Review: Sarah's Key is a beautifully written story that alternates between the lives of Julia and Sarah. Two women who were born decades apart, in different countries. Two women who were effected by the Holocaust, one in a far greater degree. The alternating stories of these women was easily followed as their lives seamlessly and smoothly intertwined. Their stories spoke to my heart and mind.

As I became completely and thoroughly swept into the story, I learned about a horrible time in France's history,Velodrome d’Hiver Roundup ( known as Vel’ d’Hiv’) . The arrest of 3,031 men, 5,802 women and 4,051 children took place on July 16 - 17 1942. The injustice and indignities fell upon these Jews as they waited at Vel’ d’Hiv’, transported to the internment camp at Drancy and finally sent on to Auschwitz, to their deaths. The French police were directly responsible for the arrests and detention. This piece of French history was not taught about in schools, citizens did not talk of it, it was not nationally recognized. In 1995, The French President, Jacques Chirac officially recognized France's role in Vel’ d’Hiv’ Roundup.

**The foremost thing that I took away from this book is the resounding necessity to remember. To remember the Holocaust, to honor those who were the victims of a most horrible crime, who were treated as less than human and were cruelly murdered in the camps of Auschwitz. Those were detained and murder are not the only ones to remember as we should also remember those whose lives were personally touched by the victims. We should remember the family of the survivors as well as those who helped the Jews to escape the horrors of the camps. We should also remember those who helped the survivors piece back their lives. We should never forgot this horrible time in history.

**The author, while stating that she did not write Sarah's Key as historical fiction, did a wonderful job weaving the enormity of the Vel’ d’Hiv’ Roundup into the story through the fictional eyes of Sarah and Julia. The author instilled the feeling of current times as if the characters were historically real. There is depth and intrigue throughout the story.

I was swept into the emotions of Sarah and Julia's lives. I felt the confusion, horror and sadness. I wept.

Sarah's Key is a story not to be missed.
Zakhor. Al Tichkah.
(Remember. Never forget.)

Lady in Waiting

Visit Deanna aka Ibeeeg at her blog Polishing Mud Balls


Ladybug said...

I couldn't agree more with you, we must never allow us to forget that this actually happened. I get so angry when I read about people that tries to teach others that Holocaust never happened.

Great review, I want to read this book!

Blodeuedd said...

I hear only good things about this book, and I really want to read it

Ann Elle Altman said...

What a wonderful book review. I loved the cover and this book seems like a must read. Thanks for the recommendation.


MarceJ said...

What a great review, this book comes up on my Amazon recommendations sometimes but I don't do Historical Fiction.

Your review has me reconsidering, thank you.

fredamans said...

I love books that take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Some don't like to cry, but I think if a book can make you cry, it must be well-written.

Great review!

misskallie2000 said...

Thanks for the wonderful review. I want to read this book. I had not heard of this and I graduated in 1961 so this had been a well hidden fact. We should never forget the injustice that has been forced on so many people and for so long.

(The) Ladybug Lounge formerly Msslaydbug said...

I've read nothing but glowing reviews about this book and can't wait to read it myself ! Thanks for the review.

ibeeeg said...

Ladybug - I always find myself wondering how someone could try and teach others that such a horrific period in our history, the Holocaust, did not happen.

Blodeuedd - Before reading, I heard good things as well. After reading, I clearly understand why the book has received praise. Please do read Sarah's Key, it really is a good story.

Ann Elle Altman - Thanks for the compliment. The cover is good. It makes sense. I do hope you read Sarah's Key.

MarceJ - Thanks for the compliment. I believe Sarah's Key is coming up on your Amazon recommendations for a reason. :) Please do not let the "historical fiction" part put you off because Sarah's Key truly does have a contemporary feel to it. Yes, we do see the 1942 side of things but the character, Julia, is living in the 2000's.

fredamans - Yes, Sarah's Key did have a rollercoaster of emotions and it did make me weep. But it was not overdone. It was well-written.

misskallie2000 - Thanks for the compliment. I have not heard about Vel'd'Hiv' Roundup either. I agree with you that we should never forget the injustice.

Ladybug Lounge - Sarah's Key deserves the glowing reviews that it has received. It is well-written. I do not think you will be dissappointed when you read Sarah's Key.

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

What a great review!
I have this one on my TBR pile and this makes me want to pick it up right now. I hadn't heard much about this book so far, so I'm glad to know you enjoyed it.

Annie - Princess of the Past said...

Deanna this review was fantastic! I want to find and read this straight away. It's definitely going on my TBR for this year.

Aths said...

I've read the synopsis of the book so many times and each time I wonder what happened to the boy. I don't think you will tell me either ;-) but I hope I will this time at least grab this book and read it soon. Nice beautiful review!

ibeeeg said...

Kay - I hope you do pick up Sarah's Key now as it is on your TBR pile. :) I think you will enjoy the read.

Annie - Thanks for the compliment. :) I do hope you read it Sarah's Key sometime this year. When you do, please remember to let me know what you think of the read.

Aths - Oh yes, you need to read Sarah's Key so that you can find out what happened to the boy.

Portugal said...

The new home of the fictitious family has a secret past which is revealed by the main character, a journalist, as she writes her latest article about for the city of Paris,1942. As she writes her article, she discovers how your relationship with her husband is crumbling, but the relationship with her father-in-law develops into companionship. Both she and her father-in-law share the secret and she promises to find out what happened to Sarah. The author moves from past to present intertwining fact with fiction.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading a story that includes history along with fiction.