Sarah's Key

( 650 )

Overview

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 ...
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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the summer of 1942, the French police arrested thousands of Jewish families and held them outside of Paris before shipping them off to Auschwitz. On the 60th anniversary of the roundups, an expatriate American journalist covering the atrocities discovers a personal connection—her apartment was formerly occupied by one such family. She resolves to find out what happened to Sarah, the 10-year-old daughter, who was the only family member to survive. The story is heart-wrenching, and Polly Stone gives an excellent performance, keeping a low-key tone through descriptions of horror that would elicit excessive dramatics from a less talented performer. Her characters are easy to differentiate, and her French accent is convincing. De Rosnay's novel is captivating, and the powerful narration gives it even greater impact. A St. Martin's hardcover. (June)
From the Publisher
“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

 

"The story is heart-wrenching, and Polly Stone gives an excellent performance, keeping a low-key tone through descriptions of horror that would elicit excessive dramatics from a less talented performer." — Publishers Weekly

 

"Sarah's Key opens a door into this heartbreaking WWII episode that's been cloaked in silence, making it intensely real and affecting." – Book Page

 

"Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surroudn this painful episode." – News-Record

 

"Polly Stone's flawless transitions alternate between English adn French and the 1942 and present time setting of two stories." —The Chapel Hill Herald

 

"Polly Stone's delivery of Sarah's story is rivitng with its spare emotional power." - AudioFile Magazine

 

 

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312370848
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 9/30/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 29,681
  • Product dimensions: 5.68 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

TATIANA DE ROSNAY was born in the suburbs of Paris and is of English, French and Russian descent. She is the author of nine French novels. She also writes for French ELLE, and is a literary critic for Psychologies magazine. Tatiana de Rosnay is married and has two children. SARAH'S KEY is her first novel written in her mother tongue, English.
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Read an Excerpt

Sarah's Key


By de Rosnay, Tatiana

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2007 de Rosnay, Tatiana
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780312370831

Chapter One
Paris, July 1942
The girl was the first to hear the loud pounding on the door. Her room was closest to the entrance of the apartment. At first, dazed with sleep, she thought it was her father, coming up from his hiding place in the cellar. He’d forgotten his keys, and was impatient because nobody had heard his first, timid knock. But then came the voices, strong and brutal in the silence of the night. Nothing to do with her father. “Police! Open up! Now!”
The pounding took up again, louder. It echoed to the marrow of her bones. Her younger brother, asleep in the next bed, stirred. “Police! Open up! Open up!” What time was it? She peered through the curtains. It was still dark outside.
She was afraid. She remembered the recent, hushed conversations she had overheard, late at night, when her parents thought she was asleep. She had crept up to the living room door and she had listened and watched from a little crack through the panel. Her father’s nervous voice. Her mother’s anxious face. They spoke their native tongue, which the girl understood, although she was not as fluent as them. Her father had whispered that times ahead would be difficult. That they would have to be brave and very careful. He pronounced strange, unknown words: “camps,” “roundup, a big roundup,” “early morning arrests,” and the girlwondered what all of it meant. Her father had murmured that only the men were in danger, not the women, not the children, and that he would hide in the cellar every night.
He had explained to the girl in the morning that it would be safer if he slept downstairs, for a little while. Till “things got safe.” What “things,” exactly? thought the girl. What was “safe”? When would things be “safe” again? She wanted to find out what he had meant by “camp” and “roundup,” but she worried about admitting she had eavesdropped on her parents, several times. So she had not dared ask him.
“Open up! Police!”
Had the police found Papa in the cellar, she asked herself. Was that why they were here, had the police come to take Papa to the places he had mentioned during those hushed midnight talks: the “camps,” far away, out of the city?
The girl padded fast on silent feet to her mother’s room, down the corridor. Her mother awoke the minute she felt a hand on her shoulder.
“It’s the police, Maman,” the girl whispered. “They’re banging on the door.”
Her mother swept her legs from under the sheets, brushed her hair out of her eyes. The girl thought she looked tired, old, much older than her thirty years.
“Have they come to take Papa away?” pleaded the girl, her hands on her mother’s arms. “Have they come for him?”
The mother did not answer. Again the loud voices down the hallway. The mother swiftly put a dressing gown over her night dress, then took the girl by the hand and went to the door. Her hand was hot and clammy, like a child’s, the girl thought.
“Yes?” the mother said timidly, without opening the latch.
A man’s voice. He shouted her name.
“Yes, Monsieur, that is me,” she answered. Her accent came out strong, almost harsh.
“Open up. Immediately. Police.”
The mother put a hand to her throat and the girl noticed how pale she was. She seemed drained, frozen. As if she could no longer move. The girl had never seen such fear on her mother’s face. She felt her mouth go dry with anguish.
The men banged again. The mother opened the door with clumsy, trembling fingers. The girl winced, expecting to see green-gray suits.
Two men stood there. One was a policeman, wearing his dark blue knee-length cape and a high, round cap. The other man wore a beige raincoat. He had a list in his hand. Once again, he said the woman’s name. And the father’s name. He spoke perfect French. Then we are safe, thought the girl. If they are French, and not German, we are not in danger. If they are French, they will not harm us.
The mother pulled her daughter close to her. The girl could feel the woman’s heart beating through her dressing gown. She wanted to push her mother away. She wanted her mother to stand up straight and look at the men boldly, to stop cowering, to prevent her heart from beating like that, like a frightened animal’s. She wanted her mother to be brave.
“My husband is . . . not here,” stuttered the mother. “I don’t know where he is. I don’t know.”
The man with the beige raincoat shoved his way into the apartment.
“Hurry up, Madame. You have ten minutes. Pack some clothes. Enough for a couple of days.”
The mother did not move. She stared at the policeman. He was standing on the landing, his back to the door. He seemed indifferent, bored. She put a hand on his navy sleeve.
“Monsieur, please–,” she began.
The policeman turned, brushing her hand away. A hard, blank expression in his eyes.
“You heard me. You are coming with us. Your daughter, too. Just do as you are told.”
Copyright © 2007 by Tatiana de Rosnay. All rights reserved.     
 

Continues...

Excerpted from Sarah's Key by de Rosnay, Tatiana Copyright © 2007 by de Rosnay, Tatiana. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Reading Group Guide

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.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 650 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(371)

4 Star

(161)

3 Star

(66)

2 Star

(33)

1 Star

(19)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 706 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 17, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Sarah's Key

    In this book, Tatiana DeRosnay creates two parallel stories which eventually intersect and each completes the other. One story takes place in 1942 when a young Jewish girl and her family are rounded up by the French police who detain them before sending them to the Nazi gas chambers. The second story concerns a modern-day journalist who discovers the fact that the French turned Jews over to the Nazis and decides to write a story about it. The journalist has troubles of her own and her pursuit of the truth threatens her husband's family and her marriage. This is an engrossing story which is based on an actual incident and is one of the best books I've read in awhile. Profoundly moving.

    120 out of 122 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 16, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Disappointing

    Sophie's Choice meets Bridges of Madison County...

    I'm surprised how positive the reviews of this book have been.

    I expected a lot and was disappointed.

    de Rosnay attempts to mix several genres,combining a work of historical fiction, a psychological profile, and a female midlife crisis/romance into one coherent read - but her attempt fails.

    Like a cheap TV-VCR combo - Sarah's Key ends up being a convenient and barely passable book that is ultimately not very satisfying on any of its individual merits.

    The two parallel story lines start out equally compelling, but the modern tale quickly unravels into melodrama. Substituting caricatures for characters, and trivializing the hard work and rewards that marriage provides - de Rosnay ends up diluting the historical importance of the subject of her novel with a sloppy and fantastical romance.

    Kudos to Sarah's Key for drawing attention to an underpublicized event in WWII. de Rosnay's recounting of events is very compelling - but like the main character's editor points out - the reported facts of the story leaves many unexposed and more interesting lines of investigation begging to be discovered, but left untouched here.

    55 out of 88 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2008

    Powerful read.

    Bought this book in Ireland. What a wonderful but sad story - never knew France had this 'dirty little secret' the Vel d'Hiv roundup. Historically correct. Written from the perspective of a young girl, Sarah, and a journalist investigating the events. The story is inspiring and heart-wrenching, clearly identiying the impact the events had on Sarah, her family, her adopted family, her children, the journalist and her family. Didn't want to put it down. Disappointed her other books are not written in English. A must read.

    32 out of 37 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Tad Juvenile

    First of all, this was a very easy read. The author's writing style is very simple and with the way the chapters are set up every other page was only half filled, making the 300 page book feel like 150 instead.

    Every other chapter for the first half of the book was about war-torn France and Nazi death camps. The book was very educational in this sense on the Vel' d'Hiv', an event of which I was unaware until reading this book. I felt that this portion of the book was actual believable and I wished that more time was spend on the 11-year-old who was main character of this section.

    Every other chapter, however, was set in modern-day Paris from the point-of-view of a 45-year-old. Her so-called romantic life did not thrill me in the least and I found it an absolute bore. I don't know if it was lack of depth in all the characters or if it was the 45-year-old acting like a 17-year-old or what but I was almost frustrated by how juvenile the entire story was. It made the touching story from the 1940s that was happening on every other page seem less important, less sensitive, and less meaningful.

    I would have preferred a stronger protagonist, deeper characters, and more impressive writing from the author. If you end up liking this book, below are a couple of books I recommend that are easy to read and have uncomplicated storylines, much like this one.

    22 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2010

    Sarah's Key a Bit of a Disappointment

    Sarah's Key starts out pretty good, but after the initial chapter or two I found that I kind of lost interest. I could have completely done without the modern day character and her jerk of a husband and wish that the author had developed the story line of Sarah more fully. I was especially disappointed when she just completely abandoned her after the gruesome discovery in her former home in Paris. I would have liked to understand how she dealt with the death of her brother, and her attempt to start over in America. But, we had to learn about that (in very sketchy details) after the fact. Also, the ending was strange. Call me old fashioned, but I want "details" - not just an assumption of an outcome. Yes, it has a happy ending, but instead of fleshing it out, I felt that she just left me dangling (kind of like she did with Sarah). I wouldn't recommend the book to anyone.

    12 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Sarahs key

    Awsome strong powerful, A great way to learn ,the travesty in France . The struggles of the Jews. Truly emotional, reviting .sad beautifuly writen. This author brings to life all the wrongs and you feel as though you new the people in this story .
    I have recomende this book to several people and friends who have read this agree .

    12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    RIVETING AND TOTALLY ABSORBING!

    An American Journalist in Paris unlocks a multitude of secrets that will keep you completely enthralled and hungry for more with every turn of the page! A haunting masterpiece! Beautifully done Rosnay!! .....

    Another exciting and compelling read I came across lately is EXPLOSION IN PARIS by Pirrung. If you enjoyed Sarah's Key, I think you will be completely captivated by this one, as I was. I also loved SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME.

    12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Hauntingly Beautiful

    I found this novel to be a hauntingly beautiful story. The primary subject is a heart-wrenching tale originating in Paris in 1942. The author provides haunting details of the French authorities' cooperation with the Nazis in facilitating the Holocaust as related to French citizens.

    The heartbreaking account of the events of 1942 are expertly juxtaposed with a contemporary tale of an American journalist in Paris. I loved the way the author alternated chapters, boucning back and forth between 1942 and the present. I thought that the details of the two stories were beautifully interwoven. This is, for the most part, a quite sad story, but was so beautifully written. It is definitely worth a read.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Rough Journey but a Memorable Read

    This book is one of the roughest subjects to read about: the Holocaust. The author's writing style is so smooth that as you're reading, you feel as if you're in the pages yourself. For the first half of the book or so, the plot switches back and forth between 1942 (the perspective of the little Jewish girl, Sarah) and 2005 (the perspective of Julia Tezac, a Parisian journalist researching the Vel' d'Hiz' roundup of French Jews). The struggle Sarah goes through is beyond our comprehension, though the author depicts it with a graphic truth. The story picks up the pace quickly as Julia uncovers many hidden secrets about this little Jewish girl named Sarah and the burden she carried with her.
    A rough journey through France but a memorable read that will keep you thinking even after you've finished the book, Sarah's Key is perfect if you enjoy historical fiction and don't mind the pages tugging at your heartstrings. Real and crisp, the author tells it like it was.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2010

    Enjoyable Read

    I enjoyed this book and it's one that was difficult for me to put down...I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2009

    A very moving story,although fiction a very real feel as it was based on true events in history.

    I picked this book up at random in the book store, drawn to the title and cover. Once I started reading I couldn't put it down. Well written and good change of time periods at chapter breaks. The emotions for all characters were brought to life and held you through to the end. A book I would recommend to read and to be shared.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Recommended to me by a friend as a touching yet unconceivable story based on truth!

    If you enjoy historical fiction that is very affecting, you will enjoy adding this WWI holocaust-related story to your list. It's hard to say it was an enjoyable read, but the plot was enticing and well-told. a very good book.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2011

    A must read for sure!

    I would give this one 10 stars if I could! One of the most moving stories ever! I would read anything by Tatiana de Rosnay!I give it 5 stars!

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2010

    Book Club Gives a Mixed Review

    The majority of our book club members didn't know about the events in Paris 1942 so we were overwhelmingly appalled by the atrocities which occurred during the Vel d'Hiv round-up. The author's vivid descriptions of the conditions in the Vel D'Hiv reveal not only the horror but also the many human reactions (good and bad) of all the participants. Our book club had a lively discussion about the Vichy government, collaboration and on a more personal note, the personality traits and displays of character by Sarah's parents.
    AND ... we all agreed that the contemporary time story fell short and disappointed us in many ways. The appearance of Sara's son and Julia's connection to him were the last in a long line of trite and coincidental events that marred the contemporary time story.
    BUT ... if your book club is looking for a book that will spark discussion, read Sarah's Key.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Must Read!!!

    I could not put this book down. I wanted the story to continue on even when the book was over. Rosnay was able to bring two different yet connected storylines and twist them together into one. A captivating book that will tug at your heart!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great in every way

    The writing caught me immediately, and the stories kept me captivated. I liked that I learned a bit of history at the same time. It has the moral dilemma Jodi Picault style along with the history mixing with today. How hard it must have been to live through those days.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2011

    story

    full of filthy lanuage!

    3 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2010

    Too Melodramatic

    The author tried to do too much with this book. Trying to fit the two stories together didn't work for me. The characters were either weak or stereotypes. And the writing was MELODRAMATIC!!! I felt like I was reading a cheap romance novel.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2010

    My Niece Loved It, I Did Not

    I bought this book on the recommendation of my young niece. I really didn't become that engaged. I found the back and forth between WWII and the present distracting as I really found the main character somewhat annoying and whiney. I wish the author had just stuck to the story of the children. We have been to Auschwitz and seen the piles of children's shoes, cut off braids, etc. The story of what happened to Sarah and those children could easily have carried the book. But I did get something from the book....a new piece of information. The round up of the children by the French was something new to me. I went to look for more details. There are so many great books out there on this horrible period. I just can't say this is the one I would recommend. It has interestingly been chosen for our Amnesty International Book Club for April. So it appears that my opinion does not match with that of others.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Great Lesson in History

    I picked this book up while on a 3 hour delay at an airport. Before my flight left I was abourt 2/3 through with it. I know it has to be good writing for me to get this into a book this quickly.

    This is a fascinating, intermingling tale of a woman's struggles in her own marriage, her passion for the past; and a great lesson in some unknown history of WW II.

    Highly recommend!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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