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In order to keep the biscuits and gravy train rolling smoothly, here we are. Sarah's Key features two parallel plotlines for a good portion of the book, that of Sarah Starzynski and that of Julia Jarmond, the reporter who stumbles upon her story. The portion of the tale set in the past was my favorite by far but the present day tale had it's moments. I wasn't overly attached to Julia or her husband Bertrand, though. Especially Bertrand.

He in no way conveyed the charm that was repeatedly attributed to him. Without spoiling anything, I longed for something bad to happen to him. I was pretty sure I knew how the two plotlines would intersect and wound up being right in some ways. I loved how Julia's obsession chewed up the other aspects of her life and spat them every which way. The ending was pretty satisfying, if a little predictable. I'd give it a three and a half if such a thing was possible. This is one of those books with an interesting idea that was executed very poorly.

It's always disappointing to read books like this because I can't help but think with every wrong turn, every cringe worthy sentence that this could have been so much better in a capable writer's hands. First off, as I said, it's a very interesting idea. The basic story of Sarah is intriguing and the story of the Vel' d'Hiv' children should be read. However, de Rosnay just doesn't pull it off.

Sarah's Key Summary

She simply is not a This is one of those books with an interesting idea that was executed very poorly. She simply is not a good enough author. She uses so many cheap tactics throughout the entire novel. First, the awkward beginning without any sort of set up or characterization. She jumps straight into the roundup without introducing any of the characters.

We hardly get to know them, even Sarah, during the entire novel. Second, the modern, parallel story that every single WWII book published in the last few years seems to have. This is an overused tactic that has been run into the ground and beaten down. It's difficult to find a recent book about the Holocaust that doesn't use a parallel story line. Thirdly, the short chapters were very jarring. It felt as if she was using the short chapters to avoid ever having to delve too deep. If the point of view was changing every few pages than maybe no one would notice how much she glossed over.

Now the writing. Frankly, let's face it, the writing was terrible.

SUMMER READING: 'Sarah’s Key'

The best I can say is that it did seem to get a little better as the book went on or maybe I just got used to it. While reading it, I had to stop at times to read parts out loud to my friends because there were passages that were so awkward. The sentences were short and simple. Too often it felt as though she had looked up words in a thesaurus. Also, she failed to ever completely draw me in. I'm a total sucker when it comes to sad books and cry very easily while reading, however, I never once cried during Sarah's Key, despite the subject matter which I think speaks greatly to the poor quality of the writing.

Next, Sarah's story seemed to be end way too quickly. Taking all the chapters, there was very little time with Sarah.


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It would have been nice had de Rosnay actually spent more time developing Sarah's character. As I mentioned before, it was frustrating that the book starts with the roundup because we get absolutely no chance to get to know Sarah and it doesn't get any better later. It also would have added a lot to have more from Sarah's perspective instead of those chapters simply ending so soon. Julia's story really isn't that interesting and I would much rather have heard more about Sarah.

It just felt like lazy writing. It gets two stars mostly because I reserve one star for books that I actively hate which is not the case with Sarah's Key. It is, however, a very disappointing and underwhelming book. View all 8 comments. Jun 08, Gary rated it it was amazing. An emotional, harrowing, poignant and well written book. This revolves around two periods of time. Set in July during the roundup of Jews in Paris to send them to their deaths in Auschwitz, known as the vel d hiv. Ten year old Sarah Starzynski's life is forever changes when the Vichy police come to her family's apartment to arrest her and her parents, She hides her four year old brother in a cupboard and promises him she will return for him.

She is deported to an internment camp in route to An emotional, harrowing, poignant and well written book. She is deported to an internment camp in route to Auschwitz but escapes with another little girl and takes refuge with an old couple in a farmhouse near Orleans. The author succeeds in tying this to the story. The Nazis raid the house and take Sarah's critically ill friend Rachel to her death. Sarah remains hidden. De Rosnay succeeds in conveying the horror and fear of the times and the love which Sarah receives from her adoptive family.

The story is paralleled by that of Julia Jarmond, an American born journalist living in Paris in , married to an arrogant and selfish Frenchman. Jarmond begins work for her magazine on the vents surrounding the Vel d hiv, she stumbles upon Sarah's story and though pregnant her life begins to revolve around tying up the story when to her horror she discovers that the apartment her husband's family moved in to in that the the Jewish Starzynski family was brutally seized from.

Hence Sarah's story ties in with that of Julia and her family. I would have preferred to read more of Sarah's life after the war, as a fascinating beautiful young woman living with her adoptive family, but this is mainly revealed through Julia's story. De Rosnay is a talented writer who has crafted a thoroughly readable, penetrating, poignant and harrowing work, that I finished in two days. Succeeds in bringing to life the vel d hiv and the fate of the French Jews, and has informed many readers of the horrific events surrounding that ruthless action in which the French vichy police played an equal role to that of the German Nazis.

A little predictable and melodramatic for a subject that doesn't need anyone playing with your emotions, but still a solid read. It was interesting learning about the French police involvement in the round up of Jews in what was the first deportation of women and children. I was left with not only a sadness for all those families torn from their lives and torn apart, but also for the lost culture and religion for the survivors.

Children hidden and raised as Christian children, childre 3. Children hidden and raised as Christian children, children who never knew they were of Jewish descent, children who lost the connection to their family line and heritage. The beginning of Julia's story alternating with the girl's was strong. I had to find out what happened to Michel and who exactly Sarah would turn out to be. I also enjoyed Julie's own family drama and the mystery she uncovered that connected her to Sarah and her sad story, not only through geography but emotion as well.

But then Sarah's point of view ends and Julia's story flounders. I think some of the later points in the story would have been better told from Sarah's point of view, even if Julie never discovered them driving home the point of these lost stories and people. It would have made the story drag less. Also, I could have used a little more selling on why discovering Sarah's story was so important to Julia. As it is, it felt like it was important only because the reader wanted to know, and urgent only because Rosnay didn't want to languish through an unrelated vacation.

Once Julia met with William the story kind of fizzles and dies. If I'd lost my mother at a young age and some stranger showed up with details I'd never gotten from my father, I'd thirst for any information they'd give me. Maybe after Julia had stumbled through her story would he reject it, take his time to assimilate to it, but I think he would have heard her out, even if only to question her and disprove her.

I think he only ran away to stretch out the story. After the big dramatic meeting, she fizzles through a bunch of pointless half scenes that feel more like notes that never make it into a final manuscript until she could make it to the final scene that would have worked better as an epilogue anyway. Either end there or at the very least when he tracked her down again. We could learn everything we need to about her marriage and baby from the last scene as an epilogue, but without the evasiveness about the baby's name when it was obvious that she'd named her Sarah.

View all 5 comments. Julia Jarmond, an American journalist living in Paris, is assigned to cover the upcoming 60th anniversary of the Vel 'd 'Hiv, the day French Jews were arrested in the "roundup," and ultimately sent to the death camps in Auschwitz.

Sarah's Key

She becomes obsessed with what she learns, particularly about the fate of one young girl and her family. I found the story extraordinary on several levels. First, I was unaware of this historic event and found it astounding that so little is ever mentioned of France's Julia Jarmond, an American journalist living in Paris, is assigned to cover the upcoming 60th anniversary of the Vel 'd 'Hiv, the day French Jews were arrested in the "roundup," and ultimately sent to the death camps in Auschwitz. First, I was unaware of this historic event and found it astounding that so little is ever mentioned of France's involvement in the Holocaust.

It's especially troubling given that it was French soldiers, not the Nazis, who orchestrated the roundup. Secondly, the contrasts between the attitudes of the French people in and those in the modern day portion of the story was chilling. The roar of indifference was deafening. Lastly, what was happening in Julia's personal life provided another opportunity to view the attitude of indifference more closely.

Though her story wasn't as compelling, it helped me absorb those prevalent themes more deeply.


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  • I liked the ending, which seemed rather poignant given the journey of both people involved. I listened to this book and felt the narrator's performance elevated the story. She provided a different tone to the historical portion, which helped me manage the transitions between the two periods. She was excellent. Jun 22, Hara rated it it was ok. Two horrible situations form the premise of this novel.

    It was the French Police, not the Nazis, who dragged French Jews from their homes, separated parents from children, and sent them on to their deaths, all of which was witnessed by French citizens who did little to stop these horrific events. Because so few people are aware of this chapter o Two horrible situations form the premise of this novel.

    Because so few people are aware of this chapter of history, the author was compelled to create a story based on these events. The second situation is fictional, yet meant to stand in for the many personal horror stories of that time. When the police come to take her family away, a ten year old girl locks her four year old brother in the cupboard, thinking he will be safe and that she can come back and get him. Without giving away the story, there are no happy endings here.

    All of this is juxtaposed with a modern-day story about an unhappily married American woman living in Paris who discovers the story of what happened during the war and becomes obsessed with it. This book is a page turner because of the need to find out what happens to the little boy, and what happens to his sister. In telling the story of the French Jews it certainly provides an important service.

    The tale is compelling and I couldn't put the book down. Yet the story is ultimately emotionally manipulative and doesn't quite hang together. It is never clear why the girl's parents did nothing when they knew she had locked the brother in the cupboard, at the very first moment. What were they thinking? It's believable that the girl didn't understand what was happening, but the parents knew.

    Their passivity in the face of brutality makes sense, yet even so there is something critical missing. View all 9 comments. Nov 29, Chris Horsefield rated it it was amazing Shelves: ww2-ya-holocaust-ya-novels-wwii. The story is haunting, and interesting, as we follow it in flashbacks.

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    I am doing an annotated bibliography of books on the subject for my seminar project. This story will appeal to my younger students, teaching them at the same time of this shameful episode of French collaboration with the German occupiers, under the Vichy government. France was the only occupied European country to pass its own laws regarding Jews, which were even stricter than those of the Third Reich. By looking the other way,and pretending not to know where the Jews were being transported after the local French camps at Drancy and Pithiviers they were immediately transported to Auschwitz some 9, French police catalogued and arrested over 13, French and foreign Jews residing in France, and sent them to the Velodrome d'Hiver, a large stadium in Paris.

    This is a shameful episode in French history, retold in a poignant and gripping fashion. It is without a doubt first rate fiction and de Rosnay artfully keeps mystery and surprise alive in each chapter, sliding back and forth from the s to , even to the final page. She paints a wrenching portrait of the inhumanity of the death camps, the incomprehension of those sent to their deaths and the willing participation of average people in the brutality.

    This novel does more to bring home the horror of that era than any account in my fairly wide reading experience, principally through the device of reporting via a child's-eye view of the terror. Jun 21, Dorie - Traveling Sister : rated it liked it Shelves: literature , historical-fiction. Quite good story of Paris during the round up of , Vel di Hiv so named for the stadium where the Jewish people were initially held.

    The French police by orders of the Nazi's rounded up thousands of their own Jewish citizens, mostly women and children. They were held under horrible conditions and then sent to Auschwitz. This is the story of one little girl who escaped, Sara. Parallel story current time, American woman married to a French man, one child, who is a journalist. She is assigned t Quite good story of Paris during the round up of , Vel di Hiv so named for the stadium where the Jewish people were initially held.

    She is assigned to write a story of the round up on it's anniversary. She finds much resistance from the French people on trying to get facts, people who remember, etc. The story switches back and forth in time, well done. Julie American eventually fins a connection to her husband's family and a secret kept for 60 years.

    Well written with interesting characters. Not as special as I had hoped it would be, however I hadn't heard of the French involvement in the Holocaust so that was enlightening. Sep 04, Megan Baxter rated it it was ok. Let me try to explain why I didn't like this book very much. I believe one of the sales quotes on the back of the book can help me communicate why. Keep in mind that this is, at least in part, a book about French complicity in the Holocaust: " Sarah's Key unlocks the star-crossed, heart-thumping story of an American journalist in Paris and the sixty-year-old secret that could destroy her marriage.

    You can read why I came to this decision here. In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook View all 10 comments. Feb 13, Amy rated it did not like it. If I'm going to read hundreds of pages past the horrifying situation set up at the beginning of this book, the writing's going to need to be more than sub-par. Telling me that characters are interesting and complex instead of self-indulgent and one-dimensional doesn't make it so. Don't tell me you actually drove me away from a Holocaust book, de Rosnay. That's pretty hard to do.

    File under "Life's too short to read this book," please. A journalist stumbles upon the story of a young Jewish girl who was rounded up with the other Parisian Jews in , and learns of her harrowing tale. Sarah's Key Book Review. Jul 31, Merphy Napier rated it did not like it Shelves: historical-fiction , adult , two-stars. I know I'm in the minority with my review, and I know that this book meant a lot to a lot of people. I'm happy it did, and while I love the main story Sarah's story I did not like the book as a whole. I'll tell you why. What I loved: - this is an important time in history to remember.

    I love that this book helps us remember. I'm happy I know it. I was on the edge of my seat an I know I'm in the minority with my review, and I know that this book meant a lot to a lot of people. I was on the edge of my seat and so proud of her!

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    What I did not like: - This book is gruesome. And while that's necessary at times as this is a gruesome time in out history, a lot of the scenes we got didn't further the plot or expand on the situation. It just felt like some of the stuff was there for shock factor and nothing more. I didn't dislike her as much as some seem to. Thomas carries the weight of the movie, and her usual sangfroid works against her; when she finally makes contact with the deported couple's grandson, the story crumples into sentimentality.

    I'm delighted to see that the Weinstein Company is re-releasing one of the year's most overlooked films, Sarah's Key, the moving adaptation of Tatiana De Rosnay's international best-seller. It's one of the year's best films. Leonard Maltin. Scott Thomas's portrayal of her character's emotional transition ensures Sarah's Key will keep your heart open. Jennie Punter. French director Paquet-Brenner occasionally yields to melodrama, particularly in the final act, but he is resolute about not depicting all of his countrymen as Nazi stooges, since many weren't.

    Peter Howell. Thomas' performance is one of brilliant restraint and believable naturalism. Lisa Kennedy.

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    Emma Simmonds. Kelly Jane Torrance. Is Sarah's Key designed to make French adults think about what their grandparents did in the war? But if that's so, then why make a movie with the emotional intelligence of a child? Sarah Manvel. An emotionally wrenching story of survival and remembrance of things past.

    Eleanor Ringel Cater. The crumbs of happiness the filmmakers find to soothe us with are that learning Sarah's story helps Julia come to terms with her own problems, a neat resolution that trivializes the story the filmmakers mean to illuminate. Hannah Brown. Isn't it a little early in the year for Harvey Weinstein to be grubbing for Oscars already? Sean Burns. Well executed and avoids histrionic manipulation, allowing just enough breathing room without truncating the raw emotion of the book.

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    Super Reviewer. View All Photos Movie Info. Julia Jarmond, an American journalist married to a Frenchman, is commissioned to write an article about the notorious Vel d'Hiv round up, which took place in Paris, in She stumbles upon a family secret which will link her forever to the destiny of a young Jewish girl, Sarah. Julia learns that the apartment she and her husband 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 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. PG for thematic material including disturbing situations involving the Holocaust. Gilles Paquet-Brenner.

    Because of the article and an accident of real estate, Julia starts to obsess about Sarah and her fate, even as her own comfortable Parisian life begins to crumble. She tries desperately to return home to free her brother but at almost every turn is met by terror. The first scenes — of the arrest and at the velodrome — are the most indelible. You may want to hide your eyes. No need. The film looks away for you, by cutting to the present-day story and going limp, as life-and-death drama is replaced by life as we know it.