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.
Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This haunting novel takes a hard look at the French government’s complicity in the Holocaust, a topic that’s rarely spoken about even today. Tatiana de Rosnay makes clever links between past and present, interweaving two storylines that begin in the same Parisian apartment. In 1942, a Jewish girl is arrested there during the Vélodrome d’Hiver roundup—after locking her little brother in the cupboard to keep him safe. In 2002, an American expat stumbles upon the story while renovating the same flat and becomes obsessed with finding out the truth. Sarah’s Key is a poignant reminder that history is important—both the big and small stories.
De Rosnay's U.S. debut fictionalizes the 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, in which thousands of Jewish families were arrested, held at the V lodrome d'Hiver outside the city, then transported to Auschwitz. Forty-five-year-old Julia Jarmond, American by birth, moved to Paris when she was 20 and is married to the arrogant, unfaithful Bertrand T zac, with whom she has an 11-year-old daughter. Julia writes for an American magazine and her editor assigns her to cover the 60th anniversary of the V l' d'Hiv' roundups. Julia soon learns that the apartment she and Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand's family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants: Wladyslaw and Rywka Starzynski, parents of 10-year-old Sarah and four-year-old Michel. The more Julia discovers especially about Sarah, the only member of the Starzynski family to survive the more she uncovers about Bertrand's family, about France and, finally, herself. Already translated into 15 languages, the novel is De Rosnay's 10th (but her first written in English, her first language). It beautifully conveys Julia's conflicting loyalties, and makes Sarah's trials so riveting, her innocence so absorbing, that the book is hard to put down.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Sad, but a worth it!
I really enjoyed this book, but if you don't like books that make you cry, you probably shouldn't read it. Parts of the story will leave you heart broken. But if you are prepared, you will enjoy it. So grab some tissues, find a comfy spot, and read.
Disappointingly predictable, flat characterizations. Interesting historical setting.
This book was riveting. I couldn't put it down. We must all never forget.