Summary and book reviews of Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Sarah's Key

By Tatiana de Rosnay

Sarah's Key

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Book Summary

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.

Soon to be a major motion picture!

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&#...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. What did you know about France's role in World War II—and the Vél d'Hiv round-up in particular—before reading Sarah's Key? How did this book teach you about, or change your impression of, this important chapter in French history?
  2. Sarah's Key is composed of two interweaving story lines: Sarah's, in the past, and Julia's quest in the present day. Discuss the structure and prose-style of each narrative. Did you enjoy the alternating stories and time-frames? What are the strengths or drawbacks of this format?
  3. Per above: Which "voice" did you prefer: Sarah's or Julia's? Why? Is one more or less authentic than the other? If you could meet either of the two characters, which one would you ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews
Sarah Galvin, The Bookstore Plus, Lake Placid, NY

Sarah's Key is told from both the perspective of an 10-year-old girl whose family is rounded up during the Vel D'Hiv in France in 1942 and an American who presently lives in Paris. The heartbreak is real, the love is true, and the need to find out how their two lives are connected made this one of my absolute favorites!

Roberta, The Book Stall at Chestnut Court (Front Line, Newsletter)

I was overwhelmed by a novel that I had missed when it first came our way - Sarah's Key. It is a page-turner about World War II, the Holocaust and contemporary Paris. I couldn't put it down.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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.

Library Journal

Starred Review. Masterly and compelling, it is not something that readers will quickly forget. Highly recommended.

Sacramento Bee

Exceptional, emotional, and compelling…

Reader Reviews
Doris

Sarah's Key Book Review
Sarah’s Key is written about Tatiana de Rosnay. It takes place in Paris, France and deals with the Holocaustand the Vel d’hiv round up in 1942 where the french police captured hundreds of Jews and took them to their deaths. This was a heart-...   Read More

Care

Very sad but a must to read
I found this book so terribly sad, it brought tears. I wasn't going to finish it but I am glad I did. Everything should read this so they know what happened to the Jews during Hitler's reign. He was so evil, is surely in Hell. The French were ordered...   Read More

Brooke

Sarah's Key
Sarah's Key was very intriguing. I loved it from the very beginning. I highly recommend this book if you are into historical fiction books that are exciting and have a touch of romance in it. I loved it, and I hope that you do to. Do not be afraid to...   Read More

Melli Reeds

Sarah's Key
This novel drew me in from the beginning. The way de Rosnay intertwined two stories were well done. And the various dramatic situations and circumstances make the readers contemplative and in some ways makes an emotional connection. However, I felt ...   Read More

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