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Sarah's Key Hardcover – October 25, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. De Rosnay's U.S. debut fictionalizes the 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, in which thousands of Jewish families were arrested, held at the Vélodrome d'Hiver outside the city, then transported to Auschwitz. Forty-five-year-old Julia Jarmond, American by birth, moved to Paris when she was 20 and is married to the arrogant, unfaithful Bertrand Tézac, with whom she has an 11-year-old daughter. Julia writes for an American magazine and her editor assigns her to cover the 60th anniversary of the Vél' d'Hiv' roundups. Julia soon learns that the apartment she and Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand's family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants: Wladyslaw and Rywka Starzynski, parents of 10-year-old Sarah and four-year-old Michel. The more Julia discovers—especially about Sarah, the only member of the Starzynski family to survive—the more she uncovers about Bertrand's family, about France and, finally, herself. Already translated into 15 languages, the novel is De Rosnay's 10th (but her first written in English, her first language). It beautifully conveys Julia's conflicting loyalties, and makes Sarah's trials so riveting, her innocence so absorbing, that the book is hard to put down. (July)
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“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
“Sarah's Key unlocks the star crossed, heart thumping story of an American journalist in Paris and the 60-year-old secret that could destroy her marriage. This book will stay on your mind long after it's back on the shelf.” ―Risa Miller, author of Welcome to Heavenly Heights
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Top Customer Reviews
The trouble that I ran into was the writing style. I wasn't alive in 1942, nor have I lived in France, but I found it very hard to believe that a 10-year old French Jewish girl would use, or even know, the word sh*t. I also found it frustrating that 11 year old Zoe seemed much more mature and capable than any adult around her. Julia was obsessive and annoying, Antonio was inexplicably exhausted all of the time, Bertrand was a hollow character, and the long list of friends served almost no purpose in advancing the storyline.
Overall the unnecessary inclusion of vulgar language and unrealistic characters made this story hard to connect with. I applaud the author for tackling such a tragic historical event but, unfortunately, the writing was too weak to do justice to it.
Sarah’s Key is a heart- wrenching story that brings light and awareness to the tragic events of the holocaust. The way the author wrote from the perspective of Sarah made me feel as if I was there, witnessing the pain and horror that the women and children had to face. I loved push and pull of emotions as I read on into the book, but I wish it focused more on Sarah’s story, and not as much on the life of Julia.
In conclusion, Sarah’s Key is an emotional book that will make you want to just keep reading. This book is a blend of fiction and histoy, and is a great way to learn more about the events that occurred in Paris in 1942. It is memorable and will keep you thinking even after you finish the book. I would definitely recommend this book, it was a great read!
“Sarah’s Key” appropriately and tactfully indicts those who refuse to remember France’s participation in the terrible events of the Holocaust. Julia’s frustration with those who want to sweep the Holocaust under the rug, saying the long ago events should not be discussed, mirrors the frustration I feel when I encounter the same attitudes.
The little girl carries a grown up guilt about abandoning her little brother which is heart wrenching. As I read how Sarah tried and tried to get to her little brother, I found myself cheering her on, even though I knew she would not be successful.
An aspect I found a bit frustrating, was the subplot of forty-five year old Julia’s pregnancy. Although it may be intended as a metaphor for the near destruction of a child, it does not seem to fit with the rest of the story. I found that part a bit trite, but it did not make me want to put the book down.
The writing is uneven between telling the two stories. Julia’s world is less developed and I had a difficult time relating to her problems or even feeling a great deal of sympathy for her. On the other hand, Sarah’s story was concise and from my own considerable knowledge of that time, accurate.
Ultimately, “Sarah’s Key” adequately tells a familiar story, without providing a new perspective.