Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay is the heart-breaking tale of 10-year-old Sarah Stravinsky, a French Jew, and her journey during the Holocaust in 1942. Paralleling her story is the account of American journalist Julia Jarmond, in the year 2002, who is living in France and assigned to cover the 60th anniversary of the Vél' d'Hiv', the French round-ups in which little Sarah and her family were arrested and sent to concentration camps. The two women have a tie that binds, as Julia discovers her French in-laws have owned the apartment that Sarah once lived in since her family was removed from it. As Julia desperately searches for Sarah, hoping she was one of the lucky few who escaped death at Auschwitz, she uncovers the unspeakable horror that Sarah endured in the very same apartment a secret that has haunted her in-laws for 60 years.
If the superb simplicity of this saga isn't enough to draw you in, Polly Stone's flawless narration will. She gives each character a distinct voice (complete with accurate accent and pitch), which lends authenticity, as if the characters themselves have come alive within her. This novel, like most accounts of the Holocaust, is weighty, ridden with horrific details. Stone's tone is subtle, letting these details ring out and strike your heart. She's also a master at building suspense, and you'll find yourself so endeared by little Sarah, that you will be white-knuckled for her during her frightening journey.
The last portion of the novel is a bit drawn out, but this is forgivable, as the denouement is touching, and Sarah's struggle is one that will stick with you long after you've finished listening to it. Colleen Oakley
Now a major motion picture starring Kristin Scott Thomas.
Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a 10-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.
About the film: Stéphane Marsil presents a film by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, adapted from the novel by Tatiana de Rosnay published by Heloise D’Ormesson; Kristin Scott Thomas, Melusine Mayance, Niels Arestrup, Frederic Pierrot, Michel Duchaussoy, Dominique Frot, Natasha Mashkevich, with the participation of Gisele Casadesus and Aidan Quinn in the role of William Rainsferd. Screenplay by Serge Joncour and Giles Paquet-Brenner; Produced by Stéphane Marsil; Director of Photography Pascal Ridao (A.F.C.); 1st Assistant Director Olivier Coutard; Casting Gwendale Schmitz; Set Design Francoise Dupertuis (A.D.C.); Wardrobe Eric Perron; Sound Engineer Didier Codoul, Bruno Seznec, Alexandre Fleurant and Fabien Devillers; Editing Herve Schneid (A.C.E.); Original Music Max Richter; Line Producer Clement Sentilhes; Production Manager Antoine Theron. The Weinstein Company presents a Hugo Productions – Studio 37 – TF1 Droits Audiovisuels – France 2 Cinema; Co-Production with the participation of Canal+, TPS Star and France Televisions with the support of Region Ile-De-France; in association with the sofica A Plus Image.
©2007 Tatiana de Rosnay; (P)2008 Macmillan Audio
"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, starred review)
Your emotions will spin with this story ... little children, Nazi occupation, love and war. It's a present day story with a WWII mystery intertwined. I really got absorbed in this one and hated to see it end. A must read.
This book does start off slowly, however, you are captivated by real characters, awesome dual story line, Jewish/French history along with modern France/America. This story was well worth the purchase. The story was so good and touching, that I can't but help think of the book every now and then and smile.
I am not sure why I do not pay much attention to other reader's reviews until AFTER I have read (listened to) the book. But that is how it happens. I probably would have gotten to this book anyway. But as many other reviewer's have already stated, I loved the historical part but was dissappointed with the modern day side. There were other directions it could have taken, but did not. The end was long, drawn out, and boring.
The beginning was slow and difficult to get into. When listening, one is not aware of paragraph changes, chapter endings, and such. Therefore, it was difficult to know when it was 1942 or 2002. But as the story continued, it caught me up in the story. The middle was wonderful. But then as it was ending, it went downhill. The long struggle to find some survivor of Sarah, the marital difficulties, the all-knowing-come-to-the-rescue older daughter, even the story of the son were a bit trite. If the author had kept to Sarah's story she would have been better off.
Narration was excellent. Transition's between characters was well differentiated and accents were wonderful.
This is a wonderful story. Admittedly it's a bit slow getting started. And the cutting from the present to the past and back again takes getting use to; however, it is an excellent way of telling the story. Both stories are told in tandum and are wrapped up in a most satisfying way. It reminded me of a geneological search.
The book is well worth the time to read. I think those that do take the time will be very glad they did. Polly Stone, the narrator, does an outstanding job. Her accents are on point and she gives each character their own recognizable voice.
I found this book fascinating, and learned some historical information. The charachters were realistic. All in all, a very good listen.
Beautiful, poignant and often poetic, the story of Sarah, a heroic, tragic child living in a time of horror left me breathless. At the same time, the novel portrays a believable, smart and quirky contemporary protagonist who is strong and honest. I enjoyed this novel immensely. The reader does a superb job with each voice. I especially enjoyed her rendition of the contemporary protagonist, and I had not expected that at all. Well worth the time and energy. Thanks you.
Not really. The genre was not the problem. The writing was poor.
The narrator was very poor. Her attempt to do character voices made a tragic situation laughable. It was like listening to a poorly performed puppet theater without being able to see the stage. I think almost anyone could have done a better job.
Sarah's story was good but was only a small part of the story and ended way too soon. I did not care about Julia at all.
There are 2 stories in this novel. A tragic story of Sarah who was a Jewish girl in 1942 and a self absorbed one deferential American woman living in France with her philandering husband sixty years later. If the whole story had focused on Sarah's story, this would have been an excellent read. Unfortunately the author spent too little time on Sarah's story and a great deal of time on Julia's sex life with her French husband.
Fascinating novel told from 2 different points of view: Sarah, a Parisian Jewish girl in 1942, & Julia, an American journalist living in Paris in modern times. The author captures so many emotions, & I'm learning so much. The reader is very talented & easy to listen to, infusing the characters with so much - well, character. I listen to books while walking, & can hardly wait to get back to this book - so it makes me walk more!
I want to read books that take me to a "place and/or time" I've never been. On the other hand, I love reading about places where I HAVE been.
The book is about an historical tragic event in Paris. Jews were rounded up in July 1942 by French police under orders of the Nazis and eventually taken to camps to be exterminated. The story follows the fate of one of those Jewish children, a 10 year old named Sarah, who managed to escape. Sixty years later, approaching the anniversary of this "rounding up" event, an American journalist living in Paris wants to write a story about the girl and her experiences. She becomes obsessed with the story of Sarah and wants to find her. Her detective work reveals that many French, including members of her own family(in-laws,) would rather not remember their participation in the events of 1942. Digging up the past and the revelation of secrets creates both agony and hope.
I was left with a conflicting feeling that the revelation of secrets can both harm and free a person. I enjoyed the book, told from the viewpoint of two different time periods. One viewpoint, Sarah's, takes place in 1942 and the other in 2002 from the viewpoint of the journalist who is looking back in time.
This felt like it was junior high school level reading. Harlequin meets Holocaust. Predictable with undeveloped characters.
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