482 of 536 people found the following review helpful
Story has great potential, but ultimately not fufilling,
This review is from: Sarah's Key (Hardcover)The theme and historical context of this book is certainly compelling and the moral issues raised by the story, though familiar, are still intriguing. However, once the key elements of Sarah's story are revealed, the book looses steam and we are left with the banal life crisis facing our journalist narrator who comes off frequently as more than a little spineless, letting the people around her direct the flow of her thoughts and actions. The angst of modern life over-shadows past tragedy. Most of the author's characters seem stereotyped, merely cardboard cut-outs who are ill-suited to the task of explicating the difficult gray areas between good and evil. When Joshua, Julia's editor, points out to her the fact that she has left out one whole side of Sarah's difficult story, he might as well be describing this novel. It never really does address the issues of responsibility and moral culpability in any deep and meaningful way. When Sarah's voice disappears from the narrative, the book looses its psychological edge and Julia's subsequent quest seems to lack real purpose. The confrontations which do take place towards the end of the novel are not the one's a reader might be anticipating and ultimately, leave the reader feeling unsatisfied and disappointed. Read this book to learn more about the Jewish experience in occupied France but don't expect to be challenged--this book doesn't take readers anywhere near the true tragedy symbolized by Sarah's key.
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Showing 1-10 of 52 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 4, 2008 1:37:57 PM PDT
Ruth Reader says:
I felt that the book lacked authenticity, and Julia's personal problems seemed inconsequential in juxtapostition to the story of Sarah. However this Review really says it better than that.
Posted on Nov 15, 2008 10:15:28 AM PST
I just do not get all the glowing reviews for this thing. Sarah's story was so compelling but the bits with Julia and the husband were just so-so. I'd love to have an entire book just telling Sarah's story.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2008 3:31:59 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 15, 2008 3:32:55 PM PST
Marie S. Edwards says:
I just returned from Atlanta where I heard Tatiana de Rosnay speak on this book and how she happened to write it. It was totally authentic, so much so that it was selected by the Jewish Book Counc to be one of their selected books for 2008. Ms. de Rosnay was on the last city of a seven city book tour. If this book had not been authentic then the Jewish Book Council would not have selected it to promote. She also said that she knew that the historical data would be analized strongly so she researched it for years, spoke to survivors of the round up and did everything she could to ensure that it would be accurate. She now has many survivors contact her and thank her for telling this story.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 20, 2009 10:30:47 AM PST
I wonder if the contrast between the two, was intentional? The contrast between Julia's seemingly inconsequential problems and the problems of Sarah.
In reply to an earlier post on May 8, 2009 9:01:44 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 8, 2009 9:04:42 AM PDT
The author clearly was deeply moved, did a great deal of research to maintain the integrity of the story. I feel the problem is that the author's skill as a writer does not equal her passion to tell the story which comes across as somewhat simplistic and flat. She tells the reader about events, guiding us in what to feel rather than pulling us in to the story and ALLOWING us to feel.
Posted on Jul 15, 2009 1:33:06 PM PDT
A. Severes says:
As much as I wanted to love this book, I have to agree with this review. I found the character of Julia to be whiny and self-pittying. The constant name-dropping of French landmarks and street names was tiresome. Understanding the history was vital, but left to a poor 1970's American education, I found myself surfing the web to understand what really happened. I hate that human beings have been destroyed like flawed junk (children and babies alike), but this novel falls short of what it might have been.
Posted on Aug 4, 2009 2:48:02 PM PDT
Mary C. Miller says:
Well put. I only want to add a couple of thoughts. One, that my frustration grew each time I was taken away from Sarah's world. How much more riveting it would have been if we could have listened to her voice entirely. Why the author dropped her at the stress point is beyond me. Her discovery of her brother and life afterward would have been amazing to follow. And, two, the end? It was too LMN-packaged, with a nice pink baby bow named Sarah. I rolled my eyes and skimmed thru the last few chapters.
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 27, 2009 2:31:14 PM PDT
Arizona Girl says:
<<It was too LMN-packaged, with a nice pink baby bow named Sarah.>>
Completely agree about the ending! Did you notice the Le Divorce and In Her Shoes elements in the story? It was as though the modern half of the story, and even the end of Sarah's story, simply recycled a number of the latest chick flicks. The author could have done so much more w/ Sarah's story after her brother was found.
Posted on Oct 1, 2009 2:57:22 AM PDT
Jane Bluestein says:
Well articulated. I read this book in 2 days (and I'm NOT a fast reader by any means) and yet felt a little flat and disappointed afterwards. You really nailed pretty much everything that bothered me. I was glad to get another glimpse of Sarah's voice in the letter discovered at the end, but by then I felt like I'd lost my connection to her. Brilliant concept, and a facet of this period in history with which I was completely unfamiliar. Thanks again for a well-written review and for helping me nail what just wasn't sitting right since I finished.
Posted on Nov 6, 2009 5:48:18 PM PST
S. Stein says:
I agree that Sarah's story was much more poignant than Julia's. There are many holocaust survivors who prefer not to talk about the past and do not want to relive it or burden their chillren with details. If Sarah had wanted her son to know, she would have told him. Julia changed his life around. It is one thing to remember and not repeat these atrocities but Julia had no right to interfere with this families decisions.