Friday, April 24, 2009

Review: Sarah's Key

Book: Sarah’s Key


Author: Tatiana De Rosnay

Challenge: Orbis Terrarum Challenge

My Review: Yet another powerful book set during WWII. Very moving and a must read!

My Rating: 4.5 Stars




I knew I’d like Sarah’s Key. I knew it from the very first time I saw a review of it in one of the book blogs. And then practically everyone read “Sarah’s Key” and I kept reading all the reviews and loving the book even more. I don’t why I waited for so long to pick the book up.

Is it possible to love a book that describes atrocities committed in the past? Is it possible to love a book in spite of the descriptions of the pain and the torture that people had to go through? What is it about these books? They make me cry and they leave me feeling useless and helpless and almost guilty for having a perfectly normal life. And yet, I love them. I hunt them down with a vengeance. I consciously stayed away from the World War II Challenge because I knew I’d read more than enough books for it and it somehow doesn’t feel right to “enjoy” those books. I hope I am not rambling and I hope you get what I am trying to say here. I know a lot of you love reading books set during World War II and the holocaust. How do you feel when you read those books? Do they tear you apart? I know they do that to me!

Anyway, Sarah’s Key starts off as two separate stories and in the middle of the book, the two stories merge. The first story is set in France during World War II. It is set against the backdrop of the round up at The Velodrome d’hiver on July 16, 1942 – a massive round up of Jewish families in France by the French Police themselves. Before they were sent to the camps at Auschwitz, the families were kept in the Vel d’Hiv under very deplorable conditions. Sarah is a young girl, whose family is also part of the round up. Before leaving her house, Sarah locks her brother in a secret cupboard and leaves the house assuring him that she’ll come back soon to let him out.

Sixty years later, Julia Jarmond is assigned to do a story on the Vel d’Hiv round up and she comes across the story of Sarah Starzynski. At this point, the two individual stories – one narrated by Sarah and the other by Julia merge into one. And it was at this point, that the book started getting a little slow for me. The horrors associated with Vel d’Hiv are replaced by Julia’s personal fights against her dominating husband and her quest for Sarah. Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t mean to say that I didn’t enjoy the book. I enjoyed it very much but I can’t help thinking that in the end, the book was more about Julia than about Sarah and that wasn’t what I was expecting.

I know many of you have already read this book. What did you think of it? Share your views with me! If you haven’t read Sarah’s Key, I would definitely encourage you to read it. It is a fast moving contemporary fiction with a touch of history. Perfect for even those who do not like books that deal wholly with World War II.

17 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Can you imagine the agony if you had locked your sibling in with a key and couldn't get back?!!

I also liked the part about the past better than the contemporary story.

bethany said...

I have been wanting to read this. Thanks to YOU I will now have to buy it. AHHH! Why do you do that to me?! :) Great review, obviously.

Ramya said...

@rhapsodyinbooks - I can't even imagine it! I have a younger brother and we've played by locking each other in oversized cupboards when we were kids. The very thought of leaving him in there scares me!

@bethany - Thanks! But yeah.. you should read this book. I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this one!

Jo-Jo said...

Ya know...I've had this one on my TBR pile for the last 3 months! I know I need to read it soon, especially after your review. Glad you liked it Ramya.

bermudaonion said...

I'm sure I'll like this one too. It's in my TBR stack.

softdrink said...

I have similar feelings about 1/2 of a Yellow Sun...I loved the book, but it does feel weird to gush about a book based on a tragedy.

bkclubcare said...

I want to read this book and thus have NOT read any reviews! But I read these comments so I guess it will have to be YEARS from now... :)

Just wanted to stop by and thank you for your comment (somewhere) about review styles. I borrowed your recommendations for my latest review. THANK YOU.

Kaye said...

I really enjoyed this book but some of the plotline with Julia's marriage could have been eliminated as far as I was concerned. Sarah's story could have been expanded.

ANovelMenagerie said...

I loved the book! Here's my review. http://anovelmenagerie.com/ghost/2009/02/10/book-review-sarahs-key/

Sheri

LisaMM said...

Great review. I loved it too. Our book club read it so I got to discuss it with others, which was nice because it's one of those books that you want to talk about. I agree with Kaye's comment, though, that the part about Julia could have been minimized so that the Sarah part could have been expanded. I missed Sarah's voice in the book once that stopped.

S. Krishna said...

I really need to read this one. Thanks for the review!

Angie said...

Thanks for the review. That looks like an interesting book.

gautami tripathy said...

I loved this book. I had read it in December 2008. One of my best reads of 2008.

BTW, everything distils into reading is my new blog. Please do visit it, subscribe to it or follow it! Do help me spread the word.

Corinne said...

This one ripped my heart out. Great review :)

Anonymous said...

I must admit that I liked the story about Sarah much better than Julia. Upon reflection, I think that Julia was a bystander in her own life just as much as the French were bystanders during the roundup, until she took control of her life and left France.

My grandparents are Holocaust survivors (they were in several camps, including Treblinka and Auschwitz and actually survived) Because of this, I felt the pain that Julia inflicted upon both families when she revealed what she found out.

Yes, we should never forget what happened. But survivors and their families try to everyday.

Anonymous said...

I just read this book and I am so compelled to read more into World War II literature than ever before. The reason being is because this story was so great when it was talking about Sarah, but in my opinion ended up being more about Julia. I want to read more books regarding the Jews and what they went through. Any suggestions?

Anna said...

I finished this book a couple of weeks ago, but haven't reviewed it yet. I really liked it, but I found that I cared more about Sarah's story than Julia's. I hope it's okay that I linked to your review on War Through the Generations.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric