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 actual historic 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 V lodrome 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 V lodrome 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, the year 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, and gets involved deeper and deeper, despite resistance from her husband and others.
This book 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 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 about this tragic historical event.
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 na ve 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 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.
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.
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