Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
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.
What a stunning and poignant story. I never knew this happened in France during the war, well at least not to this degree. The author started off just right with the balance between Sarah's real time story and Julia, the journalists current story. She hit just the perfect amount of sympathy for me without being overly soppy. I started off reading it and not wanting to put it down as I wanted to discover, so desperately, what happened to Sarah and her brother.
It did lose it's way a little for my in the last third of the book and some of the endings were overly convenient and a bit contrived for me.
I gave it 4 out of 5 but do feel guilty about dropping that one star, given that I still think it is a must read for everyone. I am now looking forward to watching the movie which has one of my favourite actors in it, Kristin Scott Thomas.