(Image courtesy of massviolence.com)
Did you realize that in June 1942, 12,000 Jewish adults and children were removed from their homes in Paris and sent to Nazi death camps? It was the largest mass arrest in wartime France. I did not know this and from what I have been reading neither did a lot of other people.
In Sarah’s Key we learn about this roundup and the horror that these people were put through for the mere reason that they were Jewish. Sarah’s Key tells the story of 10-year-old Sarah Starzynsk, who placed her little brother in their secret place that she held the key to, so that he would not be taken away in the arrests. She thought she would be able to come back for him and that he would be safe.
(image courtesy of guardian.co.uk)
The first half of the book goes back and forth between Sarah’s story and Julia Jarmond, who 60 years later is researching the Velodrome d’Hiver and finds a connection to her husband’s family. They lived in the apartment where Sarah lived with her parents and where she hid her brother. The second half is Julia’s story that tells what she found out and what she did with that information.
I was enthralled by Sarah’s story and I wish the author would have written more about Sarah from her point of view and less about Julia and her troubles. For me, Julia was not a likable character. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not connect with her. I feel the book would have been so much more interesting if it had concentrated on the events in Paris in 1942 instead of being so much Julia’s story. I would have liked to have known more about Sarah growing up with the French couple who helped her, why she made the decisions that she did.
The audio book was narrated by Polly Stone, who did an excellent job. At times her French accent was a bit hard to understand but she was spot on with the reading. It was very enjoyable to listen to and not once did I find myself zoning out like so often happens to me with audio books.
While it was not the book I thought it would be, I still think it is a book that should be read or heard. This is a horrible time in our history that should not be forgotten and I am glad that the author brought it to so many with this novel.
Sarah’s Key is now a movie starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Mélusine Mayance and Niels Arestrup. You can find more information about the movie here.