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Sarah's Key [Paperback]

Tatiana de Rosnay
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 30 2008
A New York Times bestseller.
 
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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"A wonderful book." --Joy Behar, The View 

“This is the shocking, profoundly moving and morally challenging story...  It will haunt you, it will help to complete you… nothing short of miraculous.”  -Augusten Burroughs
 
“Just when you thought you might have read about every horror of the Holocaust, a book will come along and shine a fierce light upon yet another haunting wrong.  SARAH'S KEY is such a novel.  In remarkably unsparing, unsentimental prose... through a lens so personal and intimate, it will make you cry--and remember.” -Jenna Blum, author of Those Who Save Us
 
"A haunting, riveting novel... This book grabs your heart in the opening chapter, and its scenes and characters stay with you long after you finish." --Publishers Weekly, a PW 2008 Staff Pick
 
“Masterly and compelling, it is not something that readers will quickly forget. Highly recommended.”-Library Journal, Starred Review

“Exceptional, emotional, and compelling…” – Sacramento Bee

“A powerful novel… Tatiana de Rosnay has captured the insane world of the Holocaust and the efforts of the few good people who stood up against it in this work of fiction more effectively than has been done in many scholarly studies. It is a book that makes us sensitive to how much evil occurred and also to how much willingness to do good also existed in that world.” --Rabbi Jack Riemer, South Florida Jewish Journal
 
“A remarkable novel written with eloquence and empathy.” -Paula Fox, author of Borrowed Finery
 
"A story of hearts broken, first by the past, then by family secrets, and the truth that begins to repair the pieces. A beautiful novel." -Linda Francis Lee, bestselling author of The Ex-Debutante
 
“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
 
“This is a remarkable historical novel... it's a book that impresses itself upon one's heart and soul forever.” –Naomi Ragen, author of The Saturday Wife
 
"Sarah's Key is told from both the perspective of an 10-year-old girl whose family is rounded up during the Vel D'Hiv in France in 1942 and an American who presently lives in Paris. The heartbreak is real, the love is true, and the need to find out how their two lives are connected made this one of my absolute favorites!" -Sarah Galvin, The Bookstore Plus, Lake Placid, NY
 
"Just read Sarah's Key and LOVED IT... SUCH FUN TO DISCOVER A TREASURE.  THANKS FOR EVERYTHING." -Diane Garrett, Diane's Books of Greenwich
 
"I was overwhelmed by a novel that I had missed when it first came our way--Sarah's Key.  It is a page-turner about World War II, the Holocaust and contemporary Paris.  I couldn't put it down."  -Roberta, The Book Stall at Chestnut Court (Front Line, Newsletter)
 
 “Just as gripping as The Diary of Anne Frank and Schindler’s List.” -Ginny Thompson, Book Club Member
 
 “Sarah’s Key is the most compelling, gripping novel I’ve read in a long time.  Loved everything about it.” -Audrey Raclaw, Book Club Member
 
“An incredible story, beautifully written.  Could not put it down.” -Georgia Kelly, Book Club Member
 
“I will remember this story…..I enjoyed the characters and learned something about this period that was not a popular tale.” -Barb Toslosky, Book Club Member
 
“Wonderfully written.  Kept me on the edge of my seat every moment.  An emotional journey.  One of my favorite novels.  Up there with the best- If walls could talk.  An outstanding personalization of the horrors of the hococaust.” -Charlotte Hanebuth, Book Club Member
 
 “A beautifully written, poignant novel based on a shameful period in French history.  A must read for all lovers of historical fiction.” -Barbara Mix, Book Club Member
 
 “Totally excellent book.  Read it in one day.  The book made me aware of the French round up.  I would like to know if Julia and William got involved.” -Kathleen McCann, Book Club Member
 
 “Wonderfully written page turner.  Such an interesting and mysterious story!” -Sue Sneary, Book Club Member
 
 “Tatiana’s ability to get me into the ‘head’ of her characters is phenomenal.  I had such empathy for Julia and Sarah.” -Kathleen Voight, Book Club Member
 
 “The book is beautifully written – two stories that intersect in a Paris apartment.  Sarah’s love of her brother filled her life with guilt, overshadowing her life with sadness.” -Beth Carpenter, Book Club Member
 
 “Wonderfully written one woman’s quest for the truth.” -Carol Adams, Book Club Member

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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
Format:Paperback
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
Format:Paperback
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
Format:Paperback
"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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed too Nov. 29 2013
Format:Paperback
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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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
Format:Paperback
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment Aug. 22 2011
Format:Paperback
I was so disappointed in this book, I saw an advertisment for the movie coming out and since I prefer books to film I purchased it for my Kindle, I did not read the more negative reviews,I won't make that mistake again. I felt this was just too simplified reading. It only kept me reading as I wanted to find out what happened to Sarah, the idea was a good one. I felt I was dragging myself through the book a paragraph at a time. Very repetitive and writing over and over again the facts which had already been covered. It reminded me of several books I have read over the years. If I know I'm reading page by page the writing is very poor. I just kept hoping it would ge better it didn't. It seems like a writer once they become known need to turn out a book every year rather than one good book every few years or they are a poor writer and just fill pages. Another reviewer said it reminded her of Danielle Steele, I haven't read her books in years for the very same reason. I found The Kite Runner to be the same. Great reviews but a poor read. I keep hearing 'what a great book' and I'm thinking am I the only one who doesn't feel that way.
I can't say much more without being repetitive myself.
Annette Code
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Most recent customer reviews
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 4 days 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 6 days ago by brooke101
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Exceptional story.
Published 24 days ago by Waymark, Graeme
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read or see
sad story. Movie was sadder.
Published 1 month 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 2 months ago by Frances
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling
This is a brilliantly and compelling portrait of occupied France during WW11. The plot follows the Starzinski family after the French police raided their apartment on July 16, 1942... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Toni Osborne
5.0 out of 5 stars The best novel I've ever read?
This may well be the best novel I've ever read.

I had seen the movie in the theatre when it was first released, and had loved it. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Marc H. Stevens
5.0 out of 5 stars good book
This was a very good book even though it was sad at times. I couldn't put it down. Also, it came quickly in the mail.
Published 4 months ago by M Doornekamp
3.0 out of 5 stars Blatantly manipulative
There's a good story in here somewhere, but this author didn't manage to write it. The historical events described are really interesting, and the idea for the book's plot is... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amy Porteous
3.0 out of 5 stars More Sarah, less Julia please.
I really enjoyed this read. Well almost. For the most part, I really enjoyed how the Tezacs and Sarah’s family are intertwined from past to present. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Karoline
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