One of my all time favorites, here is Sarah’s Key. A must read if you are a lover of all things history and deeper relationships.
Sarah’s Key Book Review
The story of Sarah’s Key revolves around the Occupied France during the summer of 1942 and more specifically, the great Velodrome d’Hiver round up, that took place in the center of Paris on July 16th, 1942.
The plot unravels through the eyes of the Narrator, Julia who lives in the present day of Paris, beginning in the book May of 2002. The chapters indulges back and forth from the past to present, in this case, from 1942 to 2002 and then vice versa. The first chapter talks about the night of the round up told by “the girl”who is to become a victim of the round up by Nazis and whose name the reader is not aware of until much later. We see and hear her as “the girl” for quite some time. She and her Mother and the little brother are woken up by the French police during the middle of the night to be taken to a camp which is not told to them at the time. The Girl’s father is already in hiding in the wake of few other round ups happening late at night during the recent months.
The Girl’s little brother advise her to lock him up in a secret room which is not visible through the wall in their home and take the key with her. Even though girl is scared to do this, she thinks that they would be back in a little while and then set her brother free in a matter of hours. The girl concedes and the brother is locked up according to plan. They leave the house in the middle of the night with the French police. The girl thinks since the police is French men, they would not harm her or her family and will let them go in the morning. But she doesn’t realize that it is not to be and her parents tell her so on their bus trip towards the designated camp area. Her father comes out of the hiding place when he realizes that his family is taken away for good and decides to face the tragedy together. The girl is shocked and immediately worries about her little brother’s safety and stares at the key in her hand that could unlock the secret hiding place of her brother at home. She wouldn’t know when she would see her brother again who is sitting in the dark with his teddy in hand and a flash light waiting for her. Sarah’s version of this tale revolves around the grief and sadness that she experiences about the plight of her little brother and the chances that she would take to get him out of that locked room.
We are whisked to the present of 2002 Paris where Julia Jarmond (the narrator) and her family is visiting a new apartment that they acquired very recently from her husband’s grand mother, Maman. They see that the apartment is quite old and in a very bad shape and would be in need of lot of repairs. Julia is also a Journalist working for an American Magazine. Julia is by birth, an American but was always fascinated by Paris and its culture. When she was young, she moved to Paris for studies and later met Bertrand and married him. They have a twelve year old daughter, Zoe. Julia was asked by her Boss to do a story on Velodrome d’Hiver round up on its 60th Anniversary. Like many other Parisians, Julia did not know much about the round up and takes this as an opportunity to study the historical event that took place decades ago. Needless to say, as Julia gets deeper and deeper inside the happenings and events that lead to the notorious round up, her life started changing in ways unimaginable. Her marital life witnesses discords which obviously accumulated over for a long time due to the cultural differences between her and Bertrand, her inability to give Bertrand a second child, preferably a boy in spite of trying for years, her unhappiness in living as a shadow and making herself inconspicuous when Bertrand rains down insults on her time and time again etc.
In the course of events, Julia comes close spiritually and mentally to the girl with whom the story of Sarah’s Key started and who turns out to be Sarah herself. Julia couldn’t reconcile herself with the horror she faced when she realized that the Velodrome d’Hiver round up killed thousands of Jewish babies and children along with the hundreds and thousands of Jewish families. The round up of 1942 happened very secretly, organized by the French Government with little or no opposition from the citizens who could have raised their voices for their fellow Jews citizens.
Did Julia eventually learn the truth about Sarah’s predicament? Did she find out about Sarah’s little brother who was locked up in the secret hiding place and was he ever released from that room? Was Sarah able to come back for her little brother after all? Did She and her family survived the round up and came back to their home and country to tell their story? What happened to their house after they left that night? Was it demolished after or Sarah came back and lived in there for many more years? Or some other family moved in? What happened to Julia? Was her life ever the same after she did the story on round up?
Hope you liked my book review on Sarah’s Key.
Read it yourself. I guarantee, it will not be a disappointment. I loved it! Sarah’s Key is available on e-readers as well, the last I checked. Or else, there is always local library. Happy reading.