Sarah's Key

Sarah's Key

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 a...

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Title:Sarah's Key
Author:Tatiana de Rosnay
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Sarah's Key Reviews

  • Joy H.

    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 war

    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:

    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:

  • Sandi

    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 w

    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.

  • Sol

    It should never be forgotten

    By Sol Tetelbaum

    Review: 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 nec

    It should never be forgotten

    By Sol Tetelbaum

    Review: 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.

  • Jeanette

    3 1/2 stars

    This 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 Fren

    3 1/2 stars

    This 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.

  • Teri

    I might have given this book higher marks if I hadn't just finished the infinitely superior

    . 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!

  • Kim

    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 premis

    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

    , everything else pales in comparison. Plus, rather than

    the horrible conditions Sarah went through and letting the audience feel sad because they cared about her, the author just kept

    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.

  • smetchie

    *spoilers!!! Lots of spoilers. Don't read this.*

    Fuck you

    , 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 BU

    *spoilers!!! Lots of spoilers. Don't read this.*

    Fuck you

    , 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:

    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

    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.

    **

    **

    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

    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.)

  • Carol

    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 200

    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)

  • Molly

    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

    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.

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