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Sarah's Key (2007)

by Tatiana de Rosnay

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,544611536 (3.97)379
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.… (more)
  1. 153
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer (vulgarboatman)
    vulgarboatman: Similar themes surrounding a journalist discovering the layers of secrets about a mystery from WWII, along with an exploration of the effect of these events on the survivors, their families, and ultimately on the journalist herself.
  2. 111
    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (vvstokkom)
    vvstokkom: Ondanks dat het een zwaar onderwerp betreft, leest het net zo makkelijk weg.
  3. 90
    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (vulgarboatman)
  4. 30
    Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: Both are novels that take place in Nazi-occupied France during WWII.
  5. 52
    The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier (JGoto)
    JGoto: This book has the same format and setting, but is a much better novel. The past deals with the Huguenots in France rather than the persecution of Jews.
  6. 30
    Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (dara85)
    dara85: This also deals with the Holocaust. The book revolves around secrets that covers two generations.
  7. 30
    Shadows of a Childhood by Elisabeth Gille (smcwl)
    smcwl: In this novel, written by Irene Nemirovsky's daughter, a young girl in Paris during the Occupation successfully hides during a police search, then stays hidden by a convent girls school during the war. Memorable images of the hotel set up as a post-war hospital and center for finding lost family members. Highly recommend.… (more)
  8. 10
    The Sixth Lamentation by William Brodrick (cransell)
    cransell: This novel also deals with the Vichy period in France, the aftermath of events that had happened there, and family secrets. It's a great read, if you found that time period interesting.
  9. 10
    The Things We Cherished by Pam Jenoff (dara85)
  10. 00
    Ik schrijf u vanuit het Vel d'Hiv de teruggevonden briefjes van geïnterneerde joden in het Vélodrome d'Hiver van Parijs by Karen Taieb (guurtjesboekenkast)
    guurtjesboekenkast: Ook Sarah werd naar het Vélodrome d'Hiver in Parijs gebracht voordat ze naar het concentratiekamp werd gedeporteerd. Tatiana de Rosnay heeft zelfs het voorwoord geschreven voor dit boek.
  11. 00
    Children of the Stars by Mario Escobar (Micheller7)
  12. 03
    The Girl From the Train by Irma Joubert (guurtjesboekenkast)
    guurtjesboekenkast: Dit boek gaat ook over de tijd van de Holocaust

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» See also 379 mentions

English (542)  Dutch (52)  Spanish (7)  French (6)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (611)
Showing 1-5 of 542 (next | show all)
I had seen the film version of this book when it first was released, and was very moved by it. The book is just as good as the film, and a heartbreaking story. Never forget. ( )
  kerryp | Jul 4, 2020 |
I haven't felt this emotionally ravaged since reading "Last Stop Klindenspiel" by Marta Tandori and it surprised me when I checked my GoodReads list that I read it in 2014. "Last Stop Klindenspiel" is historical fiction based on The Nazi Party: The “Lebensborn” Program (1935 - 1945) and the novel "is dedicated to all war children but especially to the surviving Lebensborn children scattered across the globe. May you find peace at last."

"Sarah's Key" is also historical fiction based on the Vélodrome d'Hiver (or "Vél d'Hiv") roundup which was the largest French deportation of Jews during the Holocaust. It took place in Paris on July 16, 1942. In a similar way, Tatiana de Rosnay shares in her "Author's Note"...

"This is not a historical work and has no intention of being one. It is my tribute to the children of the Vel’d’Hiv’. The children who never came back. And the ones who survived to tell.”

I had tears in my eyes as I read most of the story and sometimes my eyesight became so blurry that I had to brush them away so I could continue to read. I think the words spoken by Julia Jarmond, an American journalist investigating the roundup describes the poignancy of much of my reading of historical fiction and especially this story of the Holocaust.

“Sorry for not knowing. Sorry for being forty-five years old and not knowing."

I am >20 years older than the character of Julia at the time of reading this novel and I did not know. I was profoundly moved.

There are so many times in the history of the world when hate, racism and religious persecution has brought heartbreaking tragedy to so many and especially to children. Will it never stop? "Sarah’s Key" has been published in 40 countries and has sold over 9 million copies worldwide and a movie adaptation by Gilles Paquet-Brenner was released in 2010. We that have read the book or watched the movie must continue to share the story. We must lead by our actions not just our words. In the ending words of one of the remembrance plaques, “Passerby, never forget.”

Tatiana de Rosnay was born in the suburbs of Paris and lives in Paris with her family. Her father is French, and her mother is British and she grew up in France, USA and UK, learning both languages at the same time. In the FAQ section of her website she shares "I was not taught about this event at school, during the 70’s. And it seemed to be shrouded by some kind of taboo." I believe it is all the more powerful that the author has brought this part of French history into the light writing with sensitivity. It is riveting, compelling, page-turning reading and a story I will never forget. ( )
  FerneMysteryReader | Jun 6, 2020 |
I finished this book in 4 hours. If you like books about the devastating acts that took place during the Holocaust this book is definitely for you. It’s a heavy heavy read, and will make you cry. You will be encapsulated within the first few chapters, and you’ll NEED to finish it..... quick. I always find these hooks very hard to read, but I’ll always finish them. Most of them are written so beautifully and allows you to explore what life was like during these times, its heartbreaking, and this book did not disappoint. ( )
  LiveLaughRead | May 17, 2020 |
This is a heartbreaking, beautiful, tragic story. Even having a good idea as to what happened with Sarah's brother from reading the back of the book, it still broke my heart. But the true story underneath the fictional story got to me also. I never learned anything about Jews in France being rounded up and taken to concentration camps. It just never occurred to me that those things happened in non-Germanic countries. Between this book and Unbroken, I am learning that my history classes in school were sorely lacking as to what really happened in history. ( )
  melrailey | Apr 7, 2020 |
Loved the book... learned so much that I had not known (obviously I was not paying attention in HS history) Not sure I liked the ending. ( )
  nwieme | Mar 19, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 542 (next | show all)
"Tatiana de Rosnay offers a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround the painful episode in that country's history. De Rosnay's U.S. debut fictionalizes the 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, in which thousands of Jewish families were arrested, held at the Velodrome 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 Tezac, 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 Vel' 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." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
added by nicole_a_davis | editPublisher's Weekly
This is without a doubt the best book I've ever read. I was actually reading it during finals today, and I reached the saddest part in the book and began to cry. This book touched me and made me think like no other book ever has.
added by tonystark444 | editDuluth News Tribune

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rosnay, Tatiana deprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eggermont, MoniqueTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Michaux, AgnèsTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pouwels, KittyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vermeulen, JorisAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My God! What is this country doing to me? Because it has rejected me, let us consider it coldly, let us watch it lose its honor and its life. --Irene Nemirovsky, "Suite Francaise" -1942
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Could frame they fearful symmetry? --William Blake, "Songs of Experience"
To Stella, my mother To my beautiful, rebellious Charlotte In memory of Natacha, my grandmother -1914-2005
First words
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!"
Listening to Joshua, I realized how little I knew about what happened in Paris in July 1942. I hadn't learned about it in class back in Boston. And since I had come to Paris twenty-five years ago, I had not read much about it. It was like a secret. Something buried in the past. Something no one mentioned.
There had been over four thousand Jewish children penned in the Vel' d'Hiv', aged between two and twelve. Most of the children were French, born in France.
None of them came back from Auschwitz.
On July 16 and 17, 1942, 13,152 Jews were arrested in Paris and the suburbs, deported and assassinated at Auschwitz. In the Velodrome d'Hiver that once stood on this spot, 1,129 men, 2,916 women, and 4,115 children were packed here in inhuman conditions by the government of the Vichy police, by order of the Nazi occupant. May those who tried to save them be thanked. Passerby, never forget!
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Book description
Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten-year-old girl, is taken with her parents by the French police as they go door to door arresting Jewish families in the middle of the night. Desperate to protect her younger brother, Sarah locks him in a bedroom cupboard -- their secret hiding place -- and promises to come back for him as soon as they are released. Sixty Years Later: Sarah's story intertwines with that of Julia Jarmond, an American journalist investigating the roundup. In her research Julia stumbles onto a trail of family secrets that link her to Sarah, and to questions about her own future.
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