September 2008
S M T W T F S
« Aug   Oct »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930  

My Material Is Copyrighted

Site Meter

Sites Where I Review Books

LibraryThing Early Reviewers

pikerpresslogo.jpg

AWARDS


BBAW AWARDS


Winner Best Literary Fiction Blog - 2008
Shortlisted for Best Literary Fiction Blog - 2009, 2010
Longlisted for Best Literary Fiction Blog - 2011 Shortlisted Best Written Book Blog - 2010

Sarah’s Key – Book Review

She closed the door on the little white face, turned the key in the lock. Then she slipped the key into her pocket. The lock was hidden by a pivoting device shaped like a light switch. It was impossible to see the outline of the cupboard in the paneling of the wall. Yes, he’d be safe there. She was sure of it. The girl murmured his name and laid her palm flat on the wooden panel. “I’ll come back for you later. I promise.” -From Sarah’s Key, page 9-

Paris. Spring 1942. The Vel’ d’ Hiv’ (Operation Spring Breeze). Tatiana de Rosnay’s novel Sarah’s Key revolves around this deplorable historic event. Operation Spring Breeze was a French-led “round-up” of more than 13,000 Parisian Jews (mostly women and children) under order of the Nazis. Initially kept in inhumane conditions at the Vélodrome d’Hiver (an indoor cycle track), these victims of the Holocaust were eventually moved to concentration camps inside France (where they were guarded by French gendarmes) and later moved to Auschwitz where they were slaughtered. The roundup accounted for more than a quarter of the 42,000 Jews sent from France to Auschwitz. The Vel’ d’ Hiv’ has become of symbol of national shame in France.

De Rosnay has created a work of fiction which imagines a child caught in the round-up and how that one moment in history can have repercussions far into the future.

Sarah is a ten year old girl who is awakened on the night of July 16, 1942 to French policemen pounding on her family’s door. In an attempt to save her four year old brother, she locks him in a closet – their secret hiding place – and promises to return later.

Julia Jarmond is an American married to a French man and living in Paris in 2002. A journalist, she is given the assignment to write about the Vel’ d’ Hiv’ for the 60 year remembrance of this tragic event.

The novel alternates between Sarah’s POV after her arrest with that of present-day Julia as she begins to unravel not only the historical significance of the 1942 Jewish round-up, but discovers a connection to her own life.

Sarah’s Key is a compelling page-turner, especially in the early part of the novel. De Rosnay writes with empathy and does not spare the reader any details of the horror which concentration camp victims faced. I found Sarah’s story the most engaging – she was the character who I wanted to know and whose mystery kept me turning the pages. Julia, although less interesting, provides the reader with a current perspective of how we examine our past history – and how that history can impact the present.

The novel’s weakness is a tendency to fit the plot around history in such a way that some events feel contrived. De Rosnay introduces several twists and turns which are sometimes predictable. Julia’s husband, Bertrand, is a cookie-cutter character whose penchant for chauvanism and narcissism had me wondering why any woman would want to spend time with him.

But, despite these flaws, Sarah’s Key is still a riveting piece of literature which is hard to put down.

Recommended for readers who enjoy historical fiction.

30 Comments

  1. September 5, 2008    

    This is on my list to read before the new paperback release next month. My mother read it about a month ago and has been using it as the benchmark against which she compares the books she’s read since. I can’t wait to crack it open!

  2. September 5, 2008    

    I enjoyed this as well, and had a similar reactions to Julia and Sarah’s story. I also couldn’t put it down.

  3. September 5, 2008    

    Dawn: It is a quick read (or at least it was for me!)…hope you enjoy it 🙂

    Tara: After I wrote my review I read some other reviews and found that the response to this book was pretty similar to mine and yours.

  4. September 6, 2008    

    Still holding out that I’ll get this from the publisher… let’s see!

  5. September 6, 2008    

    Lenore: I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you 🙂

  6. September 10, 2008    

    Thank you !
    Tatiana de Rosnay

    http://www.sarahskey.com/

  7. September 11, 2008    

    Ms. de Rosany: Thank you so much for visiting. It was my pleasure to read your book 🙂

  8. September 12, 2008    

    Sarah’s Key was an extremely compelling book, bringing us history from a different perspective, from that of a child caught in the roundup.

    “Suffer the Children”…

    You can read my review, here. http://jewwishes.wordpress.com/2008/09/10/jew-wishes-on-update-on-sarahs-key-by-tatiana-de-rosnay/

    I knew little about the Vel’ d’ Hiv’ roundup until I read Sarah’s Key.

  9. September 12, 2008    

    Thanks Jew Wishes for stopping by and leaving me a link to your review (which was terrific, by the way!). I agree that one of the strengths of the book was the perspective of a child.

  10. September 12, 2008    

    Thank you for stopping by!

    Your review was excellent, and I am glad I discovered it. I meant to say that earlier, sorry.

    ~~Lori

  11. September 13, 2008    

    You’re welcome! And thank you 🙂

  12. June 2, 2009    

    Loved this book. The second I finished I went to the book store to find something else written from this author.
    Bumbed because I couldn’t find anything. Yet!
    Great, book…..

  13. June 3, 2009    

    Affaf…. Of course you are entitled to your opinion –

    Gabbywray: This was her debut novel – but I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more from this author. Good to know you liked the book!

  14. Christiane Christiane
    August 7, 2009    

    I recieved this book for my birthday from my husband.. a saleslady recommended it to him. I have to say it was a wonderful book. I finished it in 2 days. 🙂 I could not put it down. I needed to know what happened to Sarah. It was heart breaking and beautiful all at the same time. I love historical novels, and this one was simply wonderful. I had never heard of the Vel’ d’ Hiv’, but now I feel I must find out more about it. Thank you for such a great book.. it was so eye opening to see something so horrific from the eyes of a child.

  15. August 10, 2009    

    Christiane: You certainly were not alone in your love for this book – I agree…heartbreaking.

  16. Amy Webster Amy Webster
    February 9, 2010    

    I loved this book. I had to keep remiding myself that I was reading fiction and the story did not really happen. ( I wanted to know more about Sarah). However, this book opened my eyes further to the horrors of the Holocaust and made me thankful for men and women who did risk their lives to help the Jews.

  17. February 15, 2010    

    Amy: So glad you enjoyed the book…I agree is it was a book which opened one’s eyes to the horrors of the Holocaust. Thanks for stopping by and weighing in.

  18. sharon sharon
    April 11, 2010    

    I really enjoyed the book, did not know about this part of history, had to finish book in one day, could not put it down, was very sad to read but necessary.

  19. April 11, 2010    

    Sharon: I agree, these books are heartbreaking, but I think they are important for us to read.

  20. November 6, 2010    

    I read the book and loved it. It is important voice in the process of redemption of european nations of sins of our fathers and grandfathers…

    My review of it is here:

    http://sopekmir.blogspot.com/2010/11/sarahs-key-still-small-voice.html

  21. Kathy Hartmann Kathy Hartmann
    March 24, 2011    

    I could not put this book down. I read Tatiana’s newest book and wanted to read more from her. This book opened my eyes to something I knew nothing about in history. I am learning more about that happened in France via the internet. It haunts me what happened to the jews, especially the children. How can anyone treat human beings like that?

  22. March 28, 2011    

    Mirek: thanks for the link to your review.

    Kathy: Glad to hear you loved the book. I agree – the abuse of an entire people (especially the children) is hard to imagine and impossible to understand.

  23. joe979 joe979
    May 21, 2011    

    this book is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. carol john carol john
    August 8, 2011    

    I watched the movie last night and thought it was brilliant and that I would definitely need to read the book. My background is not Jewish or European (I am of Caribbean backgroung, born in England) but I have always felt a deep connection to the sufferings of Jewish people in Europe. As with Slavery the Holocaust is a stain on our collective human consciousness. We must all never forget both (and all other) such atrocities.

  25. August 8, 2011    

    Carol: Thanks for stopping by and weighing in on the movie – it is good to know it is well done. Hope you will appreciate the book as much as the movie. I don’t think one has to be Jewish to empathize with what happened during the Holocaust – I agree – it is a stain on our collective human consciousness.

  26. Muriel Muriel
    August 25, 2011    

    Sarah’s Key was a real eye opener for me. I knew the Germans were in France and made the people there miserable but I did not know about the the holocast touched them. It was a real eye opener. The story was done beautifully for such as sensitive subject. I shall study this further on that part of history in France.
    Thank you for the story and your reseach that went into the historical part of it.

  27. September 12, 2011    

    You’re welcome, Muriel – I really enjoy historical fiction for just this reason!

  28. MelC MelC
    November 29, 2011    

    This book was flawless. Everyone should take the time to read it. The movie was also amazing. I have become addicted to Sarah’s story!

  29. Sophie Sophie
    January 4, 2012    

    Would this book be considered a mystery? When i read some other reviews they didn’t state the genre. I heard about it from a friend and was interested on finding out what the genre was.

  30. Trin carl Trin carl
    February 13, 2013    

    I found Sarah’s Kay to be an amazing,nalthough the arena scene was horrific, and the idea of locking your little brother in a cabinet, is sad. I think the novel gives great honesty to the nazi occupation of France and makes a reader realize some of the more personal specifics of the halocaust and how they affect a person far after the fact.

follow us in feedly

Publishers and Authors…

I am no longer accepting review copies of books except for very rare exceptions. Thank you.

Categories

Rating System

= Excellent
= Good/Very Good
= Okay read
= Not recommended
= Ugh! Don't waste your time.

Fabric

Bee Groups

DoGoodStitchesblogbutton

Book Giveaways

None Current.