Friday, May 29, 2009

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

This was our book club pick for April (I'm a little behind...hee hee). It took me awhile to get in the right mood to read it. But once I started it, I really enjoyed it.

The novel flip-flops between two stories. Julia Jarmond in 2001, a journalist who is assigned to write an article about the Vel d'Hiv roundup in France during WWII. Julia is an American married to a Frenchman living in Paris. She writes for an American magazine there. Through her investigation and research, she discovers that not many people are aware that Jewish families were arrested in Paris and sent to camps and eventually Auschwitz. It's a dark time in French history that seemed to be swept under the carpet.

This brings us to the second part of the novel, Sarah's story. Sarah is a young girl whose family is arrested for being Jewish and sent to a camp in the French countryside. When she hears the police coming to round them up, Sarah locks her little brother in a secret cupboard to keep him safe. She doesn't realize that she will not be able to return to get him until its too late. She frets for weeks about her brother and whether anyone had discovered him or if he was still stuck in the cupboard all this time without food and water.

The two stories eventually come together when Julia discovers a connection in her husband's family to Sarah's life. She becomes obsessed with the story and goes to great lengths to find out more about Sarah and what happened to her.

I really liked this book. Granted, I believe I was intrigued by Sarah's story much more than Julia's. Julia was quite a bit obsessive, moreso than I think a person would be in reality. And I felt like a few of the characters were a bit overdramatic. But overall, this was a good book and if you like the subject of World War II and how it affected people, be sure to check this one out.

I have found the novels I've read lately with WWII as a backdrop to be very interesting and informative in providing new viewpoints of the war. Growing up, I mostly learned about the political/logistical aspects of the War and how our country was specifically affected. Never gave much thought to how other countries in Europe were dealing with things. Even though these are fictionalized accounts, I think they provide great stepping stones for thought on the war.

Other novels reviewed with WWII as the time period:
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Lily's Crossing
The Boy in Striped Pajamas

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