Book review: Sarah's key

'Sarah's key' by Tatiana de Rosnay, tells two parallel stories.  One is set in modern Paris, where American journalist Julia Jarmond (married to a Frenchman) has been set the task of investigating the Vel d'Hiv roundup in July 1942.  The other story is that of Sarah Sarzynski, a young Jewish girl, who is taken with her parents during the Vel d'Hiv roundup.  In her desperation Sarah locks her little brother in a hidden cupboard, thinking that she'll return to get him later - thus the title of the story.

The Vel d'Hiv was a velodrome in suburban Paris where thousands of French Jewish families were held for days without water, food or toilets in the middle of summer.  They were then transported to German concentration camps and eventually to their deaths.  The scandal of the Vel d'Hiv roundup was that it was undertaken by the French police under orders of the Germans.

This book is a page turner and an easy read (although as with anything to do with Holocaust, always slightly traumatic too).  It's been made into a movie that I haven't seen but stars Kristen Scott Thomas.  While the stories are intertwined it is a much the story of the modern day Julia, as it is Sarah.

I did think that towards the end of the book the story became a bit contrived, but if you go along for the ride and don't think about it too deeply it has a nice feel to it.


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