Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Sarah's Key

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay: I got this book because, not only is it a novel of the Holocaust, but it takes an aspect of the Holocaust that I knew nothing about and fictionalizes it. Sarah's Key is set against the backdrop of The VĂ©lodrome d’hiver Round-up: July 16 and 17, 1942 -- a massive roundup of Jewish families by the French police. From camps inside occupied France, men, women and children were sent to their deaths in Auschwitz. Before the deportations, the families were kept in a stadium for several days under deplorable conditions.

I find I am of two minds about this book -- which is fitting since part of the book takes place in 1942 and part of it happens in contemporary France. The main character, Julia Jarmond, is assigned a story on the roundup for the sixtieth anniversary of the event. She learns that her life is deeply entangled with the life of a 10-year-old girl, Sarah, caught up in this mass-arrest. While I found Sarah's story compelling, Julia annoyed me. I found her to be whiny, and her deep emotional involvement with Sarah's life before she even knew that there was a connection between them was insufficiently explained.

Even the parts of the book that tell Sarah's story from her own point of view instead of from Julia's seem to be better written and less whiny than the sections of Julia's life that are told from the first person point-of-view. I found some of Julia's actions inexplicable; she gave no thought as to if or how her actions might hurt other people. And Julia's husband, Bertrande! For Pete's sake! I found I couldn't muster any sympathy for him at all. In spite of the book's faults however, I did enjoy it and was interested to read about this aspect of the Holocaust.

5 comments:

Chan said...

I'm looking forward to this book's release!

Les said...

I've considered nominating this for a book club selection. Sounds like it might have a lot of depth.

Katya said...

It would make a good book club selection -- there's even book club stuff in the back of it.

Anonymous said...

I am reading this book now and found your blog when I googled the title. Though I disagree with your view that Julia is "whiny", I appreciate you opening up discussions about what you are reading. I look forward to reading some of your other posts!

Nap Mom said...

My coworker read the book. Couldn't put it down and recommended it to me. I just started the book, but I tend to agree with you already. Thanks for the review.