- Fizzy Thoughts: Sarah's Key

Sarah's Key

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Sarah's Key
Tatiana de Rosnay
2008
320 pages

This book wasn't quite what I was expecting. Which doesn't mean that I didn't like it, because I did. I just anticipated hearing more from Sarah, and when her voice disappeared from the book I was disappointed.

On July 16, 1942 the French police were instructed to round up the Jews in Paris. Over 12,000 men, women and children were arrested, and most were taken to the Velodrome d'Hiver (or Vel d'Hiv'), an indoor cycling track. After five days in appalling conditions, the prisoners were then sent to concentration camps, where most were killed.

Sarah, our title character, was a young girl living with her family in Paris when she was taken to the Vel' d'Hiv' with her mother. Left behind was her little brother, locked in a closet for safe-keeping. Sarah believed that her father would be able to free her brother. Unfortunately, he ended up at the Vel' d'Hiv' as well. The fate of her little brother would haunt Sarah for the rest of her life.

Interspersed with Sarah's tale is the story of Julia, an American journalist who has made a life for herself in Paris. As Julia begins to uncover the story of both the Vel d'Hiv' and Sarah, she finds her life heading in unexpected directions.

As I said before, I really expected to read more about Sarah. Through Julia's research, we do discover what happens to her, but it is second hand (or maybe third or fourth hand). About halfway through the book, Sarah's point of view disappears and the remainder of the story focuses on Julia and the changes that researching Sarah brings to her life.

Still, the story of the Vel d'Hiv is powerful, a little known but powerful slice of French history. I thought I was the last person in blog-land to read this one, but it seems to be making a return this week. Lisa's book club is reading it, and lucky them, the author will be answering some of their questions. I'm looking forward to her write-up for that meeting!

6 comment(s):

bermudaonion said...

You're not the last to read it - I haven't read it yet, but it is in my TBR pile.

Dar said...

I really liked this book-it's one of my favorites so far but I do agree and I had mentioned in my review that I would have liked to hear more from Sarah. I found when the story just reverted to Julia it lost a bit for me.

chartroose said...

All of a sudden there are tons of new novels about the Holocaust. I hope this doesn't portend something eeevill heading our way!

Ladytink_534 said...

Lol, no I think I'll be last person in blog land to read this one. It does sound like an interesting story though!

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

Like you, I was a little sad when Sarah's voice disappeared. I liked her story better. But I really like Holocaust books and this one was no exception.

LisaMM said...

I missed Sara, too, and asked the author why she stopped her narrative mid-way through the book. She answered that she felt that was the best way to tell the story. Great review, Jill!

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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