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Sarah's Key [Hardcover]

Tatiana de Rosnay
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 12 2007
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.
Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode.

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Product Description

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

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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THE GIRL WAS THE first to hear the loud pounding on the door. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absolutely Compelling Read Sept. 2 2009
Five stars are not nearly sufficient to describe this most compelling read. By times, the story is so heart-rendering that one simply must put the book down and take a break. It is the story of a young girl, Sarah, and her family during the "French Roundup" of the Jewish people living in France during World War II. As the chapters unfold, a modern-day couple enter the scene and there is a second story to be told.

Apart from the plot and well-developed characters, an additional plus to the book is the short chapters. Written as a reflection on Sarah's childhood trials and tribulations, the chapters alternate from war time years of the early 40's to modern day. The alternate modern day chapters give a pleasant break to the attrocities committed during war time. Sarah's childhood and imprisonment in a concentration camp, the brother she left behind, and the loss of her parents are very painful parts of the book to read. The author has a unique writing style; the reader cannot help but feel all the emotion and chaos as if one was "living the reality" of this horrendous period in time.

The knowledge gained from "Sarah's Key" is that no matter how challenging our world is today, (yes, war still goes on and it is not a perfect world,) we should appreciate the freedom we do have and cherish each day. May there never be another holocaust, and may we learn to respect each other's values, religions, cultures and lifestyles so the world may live in peace and harmony. This book is most highly recommended. Also recommended is "Those Who Save Us" by Jenna Blum.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sarah's Key Feb. 21 2010
The book's historical story line was very interesting of the treatment of French Jews during the Holocaust. I enjoyed this part very much and often had a hard time reading how horrible the French police were at rounding up victims. As someone who has studied the Holocaust extensively I was shocked to discover that I knew nothing of Veladrome in France and what happened during the Holocaust. This part of the novel was well researched and constructed and it was interesting to see it through the eyes of a child. However, the "modern" story line of the main character was rather dull, predicable and cliche. It was step above a Danielle Steel novel. This part was rather disappointing and held little interest to me.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Rhonwen
"Sarah's Key" centers on the shameful Vel' d'Hiv roundup of Jewish families in Paris by their compatriots, the memory of which has been collectively suppressed by the French people. Unfortunately the fictional part of this story fails to live up to the strength of the historical elements and is instead filled uninteresting, unbelievable, or unlikeable characters in contrived situations.

The historical facts in this story deserve telling, and I would suggest that you take a pass on this book and find a work of non-fiction on this topic instead except there don't seem to be any. For that reason alone this book may be worth your time.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it! April 24 2009
I absolutely adored reading this book. The book delves into a black time in Parisian history that while I am well versed in history I had no idea happened. I was actually left questioning why this topic isn't covered in school. I had an absolutely amazing Comp Civ teacher in school who pushed the boundaries on what he taught his students, but yet this was not included in our learning. His theory was that it was his responsibility to teach us as much about the past injustices inflicted on innocent people that history wouldn't repeat itself.

Not only does this book tell a dark story, it also tells a story of hope. Those who risked their lives to do everything they could to make the lives of these Jewish children should be an inspiration to us all.

One piece of advise, make sure that you have an extended block of time available to sit down at read Sarah's key, because if you're like me you'll read the entire novel in one sitting, and then head to the computer to read more.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It was just okay July 22 2010
By Dayla B
I found Sara's side of the story to be very much a page-turner, gripping, sad, and I enjoyed reading this part of the book for the most part. I didn't know much about what had happened in Paris so some of it was very new for me which I appreciated. I was not at all interested in Julia as a character, honestly found her to be quite pathetic, did not sympathize with her. I thought it was very weak character development, if that's what you call it, kind of predictable and seemed almost phony. I agree with a previous review that it was something like Danielle Steel. Didn't love the writing style. I would give it three stars because it wasn't terrible, but I certainly wouldn't go rushing out to recommend it to friends...and I know there are better books out there on this topic area...
Overall an easy read though and some women in my book club really enjoyed it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed too Nov. 29 2013
I couldn't wait to start reading this book as I had heard so many great reviews from friends and colleagues. It was such a disappointment. The historical story of Sarah is interesting. Learning about the devastating conditions and extreme cruelty that occurred during the Vel d'Hiv round up was an education and eye-opener. However, the modern day tale of the journalist researching the events in July, 1942, was a complete waste of pages. As someone else mentioned, it's written like a bad romance novel. This book would be so much better if the author had stuck to telling Sarah's story and left out the rest. I struggled to finish the book once Sarah's story was told.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Such a great book. Right from the first pages straight through to the last.
Published 12 days ago by Catharine Burke
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Keeps you reading until the end.
Published 14 days ago by P. Lemieux
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic story, beautifully written
What can I say ....fantastic story, beautifully written, tugs on your heartstrings...takes your breath away...amazing
Published 19 days ago by Bairbre
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I enjoyed this book so much. Great read bought out so many emotions!
Published 1 month ago by rhonda
2.0 out of 5 stars At least we aren't reading it again!
This is the sort of book that makes an up and coming author think: "wow, I just need to find an obscure and terrible part of history and make up some really crappy drama and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Marie C. LaRose
5.0 out of 5 stars a tragic time but told with sensitivity
The subject of this book was disturbing but handled in a sensitive manner. I preferred the parts written as the young Sarah but when the truth finally comes out and people come to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Melanie King
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read- Especially for Girls
I read this entire book in one day because after the first sentence I was hooked and could not put it down. It's about relationships but, theres so much more than that. Read more
Published 2 months ago by brooke101
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Exceptional story.
Published 2 months ago by Waymark, Graeme
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read or see
sad story. Movie was sadder.
Published 3 months ago by pam5858
3.0 out of 5 stars an easy read. Having read other books on the Holocaust
It was okay, at first it was going quickly and smoothly, an easy read. Having read other books on the Holocaust, they have "brought me into" that time period. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Frances
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