Read Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay Online

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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.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 aTatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode.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....

Title : Sarah's Key
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780312370831
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 294 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Sarah's Key Reviews

  • Sol
    2018-10-10 14:03

    It should never be forgottenBy Sol TetelbaumReview: Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay Almost a hundred readers published their reviews on Tatiana de Rosnay’s novel Sarah’s Key. Most of them rated the book in four or five stars, but some of them calling the novel “mediocre” showed a lower rating – three stars. It is necessary to admit that their opinions weren’t unfounded and most critical comments were fair. However, from my standpoint, despite the fair critical comments (I don’t think it is necessary to list them), the novel deserves a rather high rating, and I will try to explain why. The book is devoted to the Holocaust. The author describes two stories. One story is about the tragedy of a Jewish girl named Sarah. The story is based on historical fact. In 1942, on the orders of German military authorities, French police brutally arrested all Jewish families in Paris. Almost all of them perished in concentration camps. The second parallel story is about an American journalist, Julia Jermond, who, writing an article about Vel’ d’Hiv’s roundup, found out many horrible details of this crime committed by French police. France wanted to forget about its anti-human past and thoroughly concealed it. The author reminds us of those tragic facts. I am not going to retell the stories. They are already well known, but the book gave birth to some of my thoughts. In her novel, the author writes with anxiety and great concern that people want to forget about the Holocaust. One character of the book says: “Bringing back the past is never a good idea, especially whatever happened during the war. No one wants to be reminded of that, nobody wants to think about that.” The book demonstrates that such amnesia can be deadly. For a long time naïve people believed that the world moves in the direction of higher level of humanization. In their naivety, they missed the point when one of the most horrible and bloodthirsty variety of anthropoids (resembling humans) became active. Russian anthropoids captured power in the Soviet Russia, invented concentration camps and, killing over a million innocent people yearly. Over a period of 20 years they killed at least 20 million, maybe more. Then World War II broke out and the world forgot about the 20 million innocent victims.Humanlike anthropoids appeared in other countries, and people continued to believe that they were ordinary criminals. People’s beliefs melted like a piece of paper in acid when the terrifying truth about fascist factories of deaths became known. People couldn’t believe what they learned. Using modern technology, fascist anthropoids made the killing of humans a branch of industry. For human beings, the Holocaust is impossible to understand, it is just unexplainable. And the only way to prevent it from happening again is to never forget it. The reviewed book is multidimensional, emotionally written but unfortunately, as it has been mentioned in some reviews, it has weak points as well. Nevertheless, I was impressed with the book, its main message makes the readers think, and this is a sign of good literature. The advantage of the book is in the strong civic position of the author that, I think, has made the book a bestseller.This book is about events which were not wide-known; it reminds people about the necessity to be alert. Otherwise, the modern anthropoids will commit a new Holocaust, and now all people can become their victims. They already are trying to convince us that there is nothing to remember; there wasn’t a Holocaust at all.In general, the book is well written, and author’s voice is strong. In my opinion, the book deserves not less than four stars.Everybody who cares about human life, who reads books not just for entertainment, will read this book with interest and will continue to return to it in his/her mind. Sol Tetelbaum.

  • Molly
    2018-09-28 21:06

    I was intrigued by the plot for this book. A young girl locks her brother in a cupboard at their apartment in Paris before the Police, at the behest of the Nazi's, take away her and her family. They wait for several days in a detention center, in conditions like the Superdome, before being sent to camps in Southern France, and we wonder if she will retrieve her little brother before he dies or starves or hopefully, is rescued. Unfortunately, another storyline involving a two dimensional American woman whining about her insensetive French husband comes in every other chapter and the mediocre writing makes what could have been an interesting story less than satisfying.

  • Teri
    2018-10-10 21:14

    I might have given this book higher marks if I hadn't just finished the infinitely superior The Book Thief. But as it is I'm feeling pretty generous with my 2 stars. The subject matter was intriguing. I didn't realize what had happened with the Jews in France. But the author spent too little time with Sarah and her experience there and too much time with boring, self-absorbed, present day Julia and her sex life. Snore!

  • Carol
    2018-10-09 16:15

    October 2009: re-reading this book again for another book club. I hope I like it better than the 1st time but so far I'm not seeing it. Why would she use a word like "ingurgitating" when you can say "ate"?? That kind of writing irritates me a lot. The true story is heartbreaking, and very interesting, but her writing just doesn't impress me as expressing the true horrors experienced by the deported Jews, or any real feeling for Julia's anger at her husband disdainful treatment of her. Spring 2009: Predictable story, pedestrian & predictable writing: None of the plot surprises were surprising. I felt I wasted my time on this book (selected for a book club I belong to)

  • smetchie
    2018-10-12 19:19

    *spoilers!!! Lots of spoilers. Don't read this.*disclaimer: This is a review of the book, Sarah's Key, and not the Holocaust. (I give the Holocaust negative infinity stars, if you were wondering.)Fuck you Sarah's Key, you manipulative sonofabitching asshole. How dare you make me feel like this at Christmas?! Dead baby brother in a cupboard?! Really?! Gassing the parents at Auschwitz wasn't enough? I don’t give a goddamn what you throw at me for the rest of the story. I WILL NOT CRY AFTER THAT BULLSHIT. I know that’s all you want and you’re not going to get it!* Not from me.None of the miserable crap in this story would even happen! Here's Sarah and her little brother as the police are banging on the door and taking the whole family away for being Jewish:"She grabbed him, but he wriggled out of her grasp and slithered into the long, deep cupboard hidden in the surface of the wall of their bedroom. The one they played hide-and-seek in. They hid there all the time, locked themselves in, and it was like their own little house. Maman and Papa knew about it, but they always pretended they didn't."Do they make cupboards that lock from the inside? No. If you’ve got two kids who like to play in a cupboard with a lock, do you let them play in it with the key so they can lock each other in? No. You unlock it and hide the key. Duh. If the police come for you and you want to protect your brother, even if you think you’re coming back in the morning, do you lock your brother in there for the night? No. No one would do that. Not even a 10-year-old. You'd just close him in. If the police try to open a cupboard to look inside and it's locked, they're going to make you unlock it. In times of extreme fear does a 4-year-old kid decide to stay in a cupboard instead of going with their parents? No. **see comments for revisions I should make to the two preceding paragraphs based on a fact I missed while skimming like the barbaric, hell-bound skimmer that I am.**Then on top of all that we're supposed to believe that a new family moves into the apartment right after the old family leaves and no one smells the rotting child in the cupboard?!?! Have you ever had a mouse die under your refrigerator? A raccoon die under your porch? Right. But lets just assume that the family doesn't smell it. Maybe they don't have noses! They would still probably pick the lock so they could USE THE CUPBOARD in their goddamn new apartment!!! The whole premise of the whole plot is just one flaw after another. And then that terrible poem at the end! WHY?!?!Not to mention the half-assed chick-lit nitwit character I couldn’t care less about. Fucking Julia. I wish she would die in a locked cupboard. She takes up most of the book with her idiotic pregnancy and her arrogant French husband. (How refreshing! An arrogant Frenchman! Where on earth did the author come up with that?!?)Ok. Ok. Obviously this book made me really really mad and I gave it two stars, which is kind of weird! But here's why: The Sarah part of the story was really quite good. I learned about the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup, which is interesting and upsetting and I'd never even heard of. It made me feel awful and guilty and pissed off, but it made me FEEL. And that's something.*I shed one small tear at the very end totally against my will, DAMMIT! When she named the baby Sarah, even though I saw it coming a mile away and I hated her anyway so why do I care?!?! URRGH!!! (I hated Julia, not the baby. I'm sure the baby was sweet.)

  • Sandi
    2018-10-08 20:10

    I finished "Sarah's Key" this morning and I have so many thoughts going through my head about it. I loved the pacing of the story, how it switched between Sarah's story and Julia's story up until the point where the two merged. I loved how the style of Sarah's story was completely different than the style of Julia's story. I loved how both stories made me cry, even though I knew what was coming. I loved how realistically the characters were portrayed. Nobody was all good or all bad, just human with human frailties. I loved the depictions of the small acts of conscience and kindness. I had no idea about the roundups of Jews in France. I did know that the Nazis tended to just send children who were too young to work straight to the gas chambers. I think the author did a good job of illustrating why the French people seemed to forget what had happened and how the Holocaust indirectly affected them. I hope writers continue writing stories like "Sarah's Key" that bring the atrocities of the Holocaust to light so we can learn and not repeat those mistakes.

  • Kim
    2018-10-01 21:58

    I agree with Katie on this one. I did not enjoy this book. It tells two stories -- one, about a young French girl whose family is rounded up and taken away during the Holocaust, and the other about a modern-day journalist who is tracking down her story. Julia, the contemporary narrator, was self-obsessed, clueless and downright annoying. I couldn't stand her husband, or even her perfect little kid, for that matter. It made it hard to root for them because they were just so unlikeable. The premise behind Sarah's story was good, but her character was so underdeveloped that I didn't feel emotionally invested in her story at all. I wanted to feel something, because it was a Holocaust story, for crying out loud, but maybe once you've read The Book Thief, everything else pales in comparison. Plus, rather than showing the horrible conditions Sarah went through and letting the audience feel sad because they cared about her, the author just kept telling us how sad and terrible everything was, so there was nothing left to feel. It seemed like lazy writing. Also, the story was sooooooo predictable. Every major plot point I saw coming from a thousand miles away -- I kept hoping that the author was intentionally misleading her readers, only to surprise them in the end, but no, everything turned out EXACTLY as I predicted from probably the first twenty pages. Sigh.

  • Jeanette
    2018-09-26 16:19

    3 1/2 starsThis author grew up in France and was never taught at school about the French complicity in rounding up Jews for the Nazis. When she discovered information about the Vel' D'Hiv' roundup, she knew she had to write about it. The book is her tribute to the 4,000 children who were victims of that roundup. I cried for these little people. They were robbed of their chance at life before it ever really got started. Bad enough that they were killed, but before that, they were left in the French camp without their parents. Some of these kids were toddlers, left there with no one to comfort them and no understanding of what was happening. The least we can do is to know their story and remember them.I felt like the Vel' D'Hiv' story was diluted by the current day drama of Julia and her "vain Frog" husband Bertrand. I suppose the author was trying to connect the two time periods, but I would have liked to have more information about the families of children like Sarah. Of course, it doesn't help that I hated Bertrand and all his petty little concerns. Regardless of that complaint,I still think everyone should read this book. It highlights an important story.

  • Joy H.
    2018-09-24 22:23

    Added 11/8/09.In _Sarah's Key_ the chapters alternate between the war era and the time sixty years later. We watch as a reporter tries to find out more about what happened during the 1942 round-up of Jewish people in France (known as the "Vel' d’Hiv’ Roundup") (Vélodrome d'Hiver). We also watch the actual round-up as it is happening. The alternating views keep you reading as the suspense builds up.This is a heartbreaking piece of fiction. It brings home the horror of those Holocaust days and warns that the events of that time must not be hidden away and forgotten.Below is a quote from a review at Amazon:“This is a remarkable historical novel, a book which brings to light a disturbing and deliberately hidden aspect of French behavior towards Jews during World War II. Like Sophie's Choice, it's a book that impresses itself upon one's heart and soul forever.”–Naomi Ragen, author of The Saturday Wife and The Covenant I finished reading this book in a very short time (for me). It's so compelling. I think I'll remember it for a long time.PS-I'm looking forward to seeing the movie adapted from the book in 2010:http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Sar...http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1668200/PPS-The movie was well done. I watched it in January 2012 via a Netflix DVD. The young actress, Mélusine Mayance, who played Sarah as a little girl was terrific. Below is a link to her IMDb page:http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3274621/

  • Mandy
    2018-09-25 14:21

    This book is difficult for me to rate. It was so beautifully written. The characters were people that I felt I had known my entire life. I felt I could see them, hear them, feel their pain... Yet I wish the author would have evolved Mame's story. Honestly I wanted for Mame to be Sarah. Julia and Mame had a relationship I wanted to read more about and the author took that from me. I didn't care for the ending or how Sarah died... I wanted Julia to find her. I wanted for Michel to get out of the cupboard and find Sarah. There were so many things I wanted from this book. It just fell short for me. Not a horrible read... But not as I expected.Thank you Tracey for the buddy read :)

  • Phrynne
    2018-10-08 15:02

    My first by this author and I found it very readable. I was aware of the treatment of the Jews in Paris as a group but I had never heard of this particular event where the children were separated, subjected to terrible cruelty and finally killed. Horrible.Actually my worst moment in the book was right at the beginning when Sophie turns the key in the cupboard door. I spent the next few chapters praying that it would be okay (view spoiler)[but eventually reality won out over fairy tales and the worst happened (hide spoiler)]I enjoyed the way the book was written, in both modern day and WW2 Paris. The two stories were so bound up in each other that it did not seem forced when the main characters' chapters alternated. A slightly ambiguous ending leaves the reader making the final decision on what happens next.I liked it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction especially involving WW2.

  • Corinne
    2018-10-16 16:13

    Let me start off by saying I could not put this book down. I must also say, that this book ripped my heart into tiny pieces and I'm not sure I'll ever be the same. Really. Maybe it's because I'm a mom or maybe I'm just an incredibly sensitive person. But I now have images in my brain that will never leave.Sarah's Key takes place in France - switching between the modern day and the early days of World War II. I really like books like this, and I think the author did a fine job of transitioning us back and forth and filling in the blank spots. Sarah is a 10 year old girl living in Paris when her life is shattered by the French Police, who come into her home to arrest her parents and deport them, along with thousands of other French Jews. Her haunting story is intertwined with that of Julia, a journalist who stumbles upon Sarah's story as well as learning about the involvement of the French Police in the deportations.Julia's fascination with the story leads her on a journey of not only self-discovery, but also a discovery of a her family's past, a country's past, and the consequences of a terrible secret.

  • Dan Schwent
    2018-10-22 22:06

    Reporter Julia Jarmond is investigating the events of 1942, when French authorities rounded up the Jews of the cities and put them in concentration camps, an investigation that uncovers links to her husband's family. But how will her tale intersect with that of the title character, a 10 year old girl separated from her family during the 1942 roundup?First off, this is not something I would pick for myself. However, in the aftermath of a dinner featuring the best biscuits and gravy I've ever had, my girlfriend mentioned it being really good and subsequently brought it home from the library. In order to keep the biscuits and gravy train rolling smoothly, here we are.Sarah's Key features two parallel plotlines for a good portion of the book, that of Sarah Starzynski and that of Julia Jarmond, the reporter who stumbles upon her story. The portion of the tale set in the past was my favorite by far but the present day tale had it's moments. I wasn't overly attached to Julia or her husband Bertrand, though. Especially Bertrand. He in no way conveyed the charm that was repeatedly attributed to him. Without spoiling anything, I longed for something bad to happen to him.I was pretty sure I knew how the two plotlines would intersect and wound up being right in some ways. I loved how Julia's obsession chewed up the other aspects of her life and spat them every which way. The ending was pretty satisfying, if a little predictable. I'd give it a three and a half if such a thing was possible.

  • Annalisa
    2018-09-25 16:57

    3.5 stars. A little predictable and melodramatic for a subject that doesn't need anyone playing with your emotions, but still a solid read. It was interesting learning about the French police involvement in the round up of Jews in what was the first deportation of women and children. I was left with not only a sadness for all those families torn from their lives and torn apart, but also for the lost culture and religion for the survivors. Children hidden and raised as Christian children, children who never knew they were of Jewish descent, children who lost the connection to their family line and heritage. The beginning of Julia's story alternating with the girl's was strong. I had to find out what happened to Michel and who exactly Sarah would turn out to be. I also enjoyed Julie's own family drama and the mystery she uncovered that connected her to Sarah and her sad story, not only through geography but emotion as well.But then Sarah's point of view ends and Julia's story flounders. I think some of the later points in the story would have been better told from Sarah's point of view, even if Julie never discovered them (driving home the point of these lost stories and people). It would have made the story drag less. Also, I could have used a little more selling on why discovering Sarah's story was so important to Julia. As it is, it felt like it was important only because the reader wanted to know, and urgent only because Rosnay didn't want to languish through an unrelated vacation. Once Julia met with William the story kind of fizzles and dies.(view spoiler)[I thought William's reaction was all wrong, not what someone who'd lost his mother would say, but rather what Julia feared he would say. If I'd lost my mother at a young age and some stranger showed up with details I'd never gotten from my father, I'd thirst for any information they'd give me. Maybe after Julia had stumbled through her story would he reject it, take his time to assimilate to it, but I think he would have heard her out, even if only to question her and disprove her. I think he only ran away to stretch out the story.(hide spoiler)]I don't think Rosnay knew how to end her story. After the big dramatic meeting, she fizzles through a bunch of pointless half scenes that feel more like notes that never make it into a final manuscript until she could make it to the final scene that would have worked better as an epilogue anyway. (view spoiler)[I think it would have been much better to delay the meeting until the end of the end of Julie's bed rest, have her desire to meet with William nag at her while she can't do anything about it and in the process convince us of her need to see him. Either end there or at the very least when he tracked her down again. We could learn everything we need to about her marriage and baby from the last scene as an epilogue, but without the evasiveness about the baby's name when it was obvious that she'd named her Sarah. (hide spoiler)]It's a heart-wrenching story and I'd recommend it for anyone interested in the Holocaust.

  • Saleh MoonWalker
    2018-10-05 15:01

    Onvan : Sarah's Key - Nevisande : Tatiana de Rosnay - ISBN : 312370830 - ISBN13 : 9780312370831 - Dar 294 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2006

  • Lisa Vegan
    2018-10-08 15:07

    I wasn’t sure how the back and forth chapters between one girl in 1942 and a different woman in 2002 were going to work for me, but this story is so well told.I thought I’d be interested in the 1942 story but wasn’t sure how much I’d become involved with the 2002 story, but much to my relief I enjoyed both stories, although I did think Sarah’s 1942 story was slightly stronger than Julia’s 2002 story. However, I do think my favorite character might be Zoe from the 2002 story.Reading this was chilling, suspenseful, devastating, heartbreaking, and heartwarming. It’s about loss and the destructive power of secrets, both of which are subjects close to my heart, so it was very emotionally powerful for me.I thought that the author created perfect cadence in her writing style; I loved it. I read it in two days as I was loathe to put it down.The tale seemed mostly authentic, occasionally something rang slightly off but I didn’t take note and those moments were ones I forgot because the story as a whole rang true. It’s one of those tales made as vivid by fiction as by a non-fiction account, not diluted at all by the parallel story lines.There were a couple of plot points that I think were meant to be subtle mysteries and that were glaringly obvious to me ahead of the reveal but, even though I noticed them and could tell the author was not being as clever as she meant to be, they did not really diminish my enjoyment of the book, but they did almost cause me to deduct a star from my rating.I was ignorant of the specific event that took place in Paris in Nazi occupied France that’s the center of this story and I’ve read a lot of non-fiction and fiction holocaust books; I really appreciated this one because I do always enjoy learning new things, however disturbing.The back of this paperback (advance readers’) edition has an author interview, historical perspective notes, recommended reading (many of the listed books will now go on my to-read shelf) and reading group questions.This is now one of my treasured books. I am so grateful that I won it at Goodreads’ First Reads program. As soon as I saw it listed there, it went on my to-read list, but given the length of that list I’m not sure when I’d have actually read it; I am so glad that I did.

  • Grace
    2018-10-15 16:01

    This is one of those books with an interesting idea that was executed very poorly. It's always disappointing to read books like this because I can't help but think with every wrong turn, every cringe worthy sentence that this could have been so much better in a capable writer's hands. First off, as I said, it's a very interesting idea. The basic story of Sarah is intriguing and the story of the Vel' d'Hiv' children should be read. However, de Rosnay just doesn't pull it off. She simply is not a good enough author. She uses so many cheap tactics throughout the entire novel. First, the awkward beginning without any sort of set up or characterization. She jumps straight into the roundup without introducing any of the characters. We hardly get to know them, even Sarah, during the entire novel. Second, the modern, parallel story that every single WWII book published in the last few years seems to have. This is an overused tactic that has been run into the ground and beaten down. It's difficult to find a recent book about the Holocaust that doesn't use a parallel story line. Thirdly, the short chapters were very jarring. It felt as if she was using the short chapters to avoid ever having to delve too deep. If the point of view was changing every few pages than maybe no one would notice how much she glossed over.Now the writing. Frankly, let's face it, the writing was terrible. The best I can say is that it did seem to get a little better as the book went on (or maybe I just got used to it). While reading it, I had to stop at times to read parts out loud to my friends because there were passages that were so awkward. The sentences were short and simple. Too often it felt as though she had looked up words in a thesaurus. Also, she failed to ever completely draw me in. I'm a total sucker when it comes to sad books and cry very easily while reading, however, I never once cried during Sarah's Key, despite the subject matter which I think speaks greatly to the poor quality of the writing. Next, Sarah's story seemed to be end way too quickly. Taking all the chapters, there was very little time with Sarah. It would have been nice had de Rosnay actually spent more time developing Sarah's character. As I mentioned before, it was frustrating that the book starts with the roundup because we get absolutely no chance to get to know Sarah and it doesn't get any better later. It also would have added a lot to have more from Sarah's perspective instead of those chapters simply ending so soon. Julia's story really isn't that interesting and I would much rather have heard more about Sarah. It just felt like lazy writing. It gets two stars mostly because I reserve one star for books that I actively hate which is not the case with Sarah's Key. It is, however, a very disappointing and underwhelming book.

  • Tea Jovanović
    2018-09-22 20:58

    Knjiga koja govori o istinitom dogadjaju koji se zbio tokom Drugog svetskog rata u Parizu, o kome se kod nas malo zna... Kada su Francuzi pokupili Jevreje, zatvorili ih na velodrom i poslali ih u konc. logor... Potresno, prosvetljujuće i guta se u dahu... Kod nas je objavljena pod naslovom Sarin ključ...

  • Jonetta
    2018-09-26 20:15

    Julia Jarmond, an American journalist living in Paris, is assigned to cover the upcoming 60th anniversary of the Vel 'd 'Hiv, the day French Jews were arrested in the "roundup," and ultimately sent to the death camps in Auschwitz. She becomes obsessed with what she learns, particularly about the fate of one young girl and her family. I found the story extraordinary on several levels. First, I was unaware of this historic event and found it astounding that so little is ever mentioned of France's involvement in the Holocaust. It's especially troubling given that it was French soldiers, not the Nazis, who orchestrated the roundup. Secondly, the contrasts between the attitudes of the French people in 1942 and those in the modern day portion of the story was chilling. The roar of indifference was deafening. Lastly, what was happening in Julia's personal life provided another opportunity to view the attitude of indifference more closely. Though her story wasn't as compelling, it helped me absorb those prevalent themes more deeply. I liked the ending, which seemed rather poignant given the journey of both people involved. I listened to this book and felt the narrator's performance elevated the story. She provided a different tone to the historical portion, which helped me manage the transitions between the two periods. She was excellent.

  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    2018-09-29 18:57

    Parts of this novel rate a 5 and parts of it a 2, so I'm giving it 3.5 stars. This is a dual-timeline historical fiction novel, about the arrests of Jewish families in France during WWII and their terrible experiences, focusing on the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup in July 1942, and a modern journalist's investigation of that event and her search for some of the people involved.The inside of the Vélodrome d'Hiver bicycle stadium, demolished in 1959In the 1942 timeline, in Paris: a 10 year old girl is arrested with her Polish mother and father in the middle of the night. Her 3 or 4 year old brother, terrified, hides himself in their secret hiding place, a hidden cupboard. Sarah locks him in, assuring him that she'll be back in a few hours. Instead her family is taken to the Vélodrome d'Hiver, a bicycle stadium, where they and thousands of other Jewish families, including many children, were held in deplorable conditions, without enough food, water or sanitary facilities, for 5 days before being sent on to prison camps. The family, frantic to get their little boy, plead with the police, but nothing is done.In the other timeline, 2002, also in Paris: Julia Jarmond, an American journalist married to a Frenchman, who has lived in Paris for about 25 years, is asked to write an article about the Vel' d'Hiv's roundup on its 60th anniversary. As she investigates, she finds that her husband's family home is where Sarah's family lived before they were arrested. Julia feels compelled to investigate this particular aspect of the tragedy, deeper and deeper, despite resistance from her husband and others.This book it had a major impact on me, and when I first finished it I thought it was an easy 4 stars, despite some significant weaknesses in characterization and what felt like author manipulation. But in the cold light of morning those things are bothering me more. The characters, especially the present-day ones, are mostly stereotypes: the suave, cheating French husband, the wise-beyond-her-years daughter, the over-eager nurse at an abortion facility, people hiding old secrets with a stiff upper lip. It's pretty well written, but they're still thin. It's also an emotionally manipulative book, from Sarah's experiences to Julia's love life. I felt like the author was too obvious in pushing the reader to feel in certain ways.But there were a couple of unexpected twists for me in the plot, and the Vel' d'Hiv' plotline is truly compelling. It brought tears to my eyes. I don't regret reading it at all, if only because I'm glad to know more about this tragic historical event.

  • Hara
    2018-09-26 16:14

    Two horrible situations form the premise of this novel. The first is the factual story of the French roundup of the Jews during World War II, which took place in Paris under the auspices of the French Police. It was the French Police, not the Nazis, who dragged French Jews from their homes, separated parents from children, and sent them on to their deaths, all of which was witnessed by French citizens who did little to stop these horrific events. Because so few people are aware of this chapter of history, the author was compelled to create a story based on these events. The second situation is fictional, yet meant to stand in for the many personal horror stories of that time. When the police come to take her family away, a ten year old girl locks her four year old brother in the cupboard, thinking he will be safe and that she can come back and get him. Without giving away the story, there are no happy endings here. All of this is juxtaposed with a modern-day story about an unhappily married American woman living in Paris who discovers the story of what happened during the war and becomes obsessed with it. This book is a page turner because of the need to find out what happens to the little boy, and what happens to his sister. In telling the story of the French Jews it certainly provides an important service. The tale is compelling and I couldn't put the book down. Yet the story is ultimately emotionally manipulative and doesn't quite hang together. It is never clear why the girl's parents did nothing when they knew she had locked the brother in the cupboard, at the very first moment. What were they thinking? It's believable that the girl didn't understand what was happening, but the parents knew. Their passivity in the face of brutality makes sense, yet even so there is something critical missing.

  • Chris Horsefield
    2018-10-02 20:17

    World War II and its legacy in France, and a project on the "rafle du Vel d'Hiv"- the massive round-up of Jews that took place in Paris on July 16th, 1942. The story is haunting, and interesting, as we follow it in flashbacks. I am doing an annotated bibliography of books on the subject for my seminar project. This story will appeal to my younger students, teaching them at the same time of this shameful episode of French collaboration with the German occupiers, under the Vichy government. France was the only occupied European country to pass its own laws regarding Jews, which were even stricter than those of the Third Reich. By looking the other way,and pretending not to know where the Jews were being transported after the local French camps at Drancy and Pithiviers (they were immediately transported to Auschwitz) some 9,000 French police catalogued and arrested over 13,000 French and foreign Jews residing in France, and sent them to the Velodrome d'Hiver, a large stadium in Paris. This is a shameful episode in French history, retold in a poignant and gripping fashion.It is without a doubt first rate fiction and de Rosnay artfully keeps mystery and surprise alive in each chapter, sliding back and forth from the 1940s to 2004, even to the final page. She paints a wrenching portrait of the inhumanity of the death camps, the incomprehension of those sent to their deaths and the willing participation of average people in the brutality. This novel does more to bring home the horror of that era than any account in my fairly wide reading experience, principally through the device of reporting via a child's-eye view of the terror.

  • Megan Baxter
    2018-10-17 17:19

    Let me try to explain why I didn't like this book very much. I believe one of the sales quotes on the back of the book can help me communicate why. Keep in mind that this is, at least in part, a book about French complicity in the Holocaust:"Sarah's Key unlocks the star-crossed, heart-thumping story of an American journalist in Paris and the sixty-year-old secret that could destroy her marriage."Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  • Amy
    2018-10-11 17:01

    If I'm going to read hundreds of pages past the horrifying situation set up at the beginning of this book, the writing's going to need to be more than sub-par. Telling me that characters are interesting and complex instead of self-indulgent and one-dimensional doesn't make it so. Don't tell me you actually drove me away from a Holocaust book, de Rosnay. That's pretty hard to do. File under "Life's too short to read this book," please.

  • Rebecca Skane
    2018-10-15 15:16

    A journalist stumbles upon the story of a young Jewish girl who was rounded up with the other Parisian Jews in 1942, and learns of her harrowing tale.*Buy tissues.Sarah's Key Book Review

  • Gemma
    2018-10-14 17:10

    A moving story told with plain rather dull prose. The author uses what has become the standard template for so many WW2 novels – a dual narrative of then and now. I have to say I enjoyed the present day narrative more. The war sections consisted almost exclusively of research with very little imaginative flair, the characters very generic. The modern section about an investigative journalist was brought better to life probably because the author was writing about many of her own experiences researching this novel. I saw the film years ago and I’d recommend it over the book. If a book’s not particularly well written the film is often the better option. That said I’d recommend the film La Rafle which deals with the same subject, over the film of this. Full credit though to the author for raising this important and shameful moment in French history.

  • Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
    2018-10-21 20:57

    This was such a beautifully told story. The overlapping timelines were handled so well and the story itself seemed to take on a new life as it moved more into the contemporary sphere, emerging from the past. Julia and Bertrand's relationship reminded me of Sophie and Victor from Letters to Juliet -- although I would still pick Victor over Bertrand (view spoiler)[because even though their relationship broke down, at least he never cheated (hide spoiler)]. I very much enjoyed (if you can call it that) learning about the Vel' d'Hiv -- yet again something we never covered in school even though our coverage of WWII felt so exhaustive. Stories that involve the lesser-known parts of the war have always attracted me; there are so many facets to the whole thing and I'm determined to find as many as I can. Highly recommended, and now I'm going to track down the film.Ahhhh no they messed it up -- I loveloveLOVE the film for most of it being in French with subtitles (and Kristin Scott Thomas is amazing) but they changed it. (view spoiler)[In this version, Sarah's ex-husband knows her story and shares it with the son, which is what propels him back to Julia. Alas. (hide spoiler)] Still good though.

  • Connie
    2018-09-22 14:08

    From the first page to the end I was mesmerized. The two stories intertwined in a believable way as journalist, Julia, learns about the horrific "round up" of French Jews during the war. Something I knew nothing about and can see why it is a dark stain in the history of France. de Rosnay must have done a lot of research but she tells the true facts through the story of Sarah, a 10 year old who is captured and loses her whole family....then all traces of her just dissolve. She makes this awful event personal by using one character and the events of a few days so very real. Much of the book involves Julia's search for Sarah as she struggles in her own life. I thought that coming to learn about Sarah, gave Julia a purpose and insight to her own life....one that was not especially her own. For me she grew as a person during this story, and though I did not always care for her I did enjoy seeing where she ended up. France and the French people were as much a character for me and I felt the author did a wonderful job of creating the atmosphere and surroundings. This was a fast read full of heartbreak. Very nicely done. I wish I had not waited so long to read it.4.5 stars.....down from 5. The historical aspect was wonderful, lagged a bit in the story of Julia's personal life...as some of it I did not need to make this a good read.

  • Angie
    2018-10-13 19:59

    I struggled whether to give this a two-star rating rather than a three. I enjoyed reading it, but I didn't read it very thoroughly. I would find myself really blazing through some sentences so that I could discover where the plot was headed (what happened to the boy locked in the cupboard when the rest of his family was dragged off?). The book needed better characterization---I didn't really CARE about the main character (an American journalist who lives in Paris in the current day). The idea of the story is very interesting and I learned about a part of Parisian history/WWII that I didn't have a clue about. (In 1942, thousands of Jewish people were rounded up in Paris by FRENCH police, kept in deplorable conditions in a biking stadium for days, then shipped off the concentration camps and gassed. Very, very few people in the roundup survived.) But I read the book way too fast to really have made a serious connection with it.

  • Lauren Cecile
    2018-10-18 17:12

    Interesting, tragic, but predictable.