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Sarah's Key

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. 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...

Customer Reviews

8 ratings

Sarah's Key is History Made Real

Anyone who loves history and particularly World War II history will enjoy this book. I enjoyed it simply for the story which interwove more current times with what had happened during the war. Following hidden clues and unearthing surprising facts the story kept me involved to the end. Well written!

Loved it!!

I read this story long time ago and it was one of the best decisions. I highly recommend this book!!


I had seen this title on a variety of lists, and decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed. Sarah's Key was extremely readable. The story moved quickly and was driven by emotions. This story provides a different perspective on the perpetuation of persecution during the Holocaust.

Sarah's Key

A most fascinating but disturbing story about the atrocities to the Jews in France and French involvement.

A must read

So glad that I read this for a book club's monthly read or I would have missed a well-written and interesting story, based on a French historical event that is not well-known/discussed. The story is very emotional, leads to good discussion and everyone I know who has read this book, has loved it. Don't miss it!

One of the best reads of 2008

This novel was a great piece of historical fiction tying the events involving Sarah, a ten-year-old girl in 1942 Paris to the life of Julia Jarmond in 2002. Jarmond is an American journalist who is investigating the holocaust roundup that took place in Paris. The events and surprising connections will keep you spellbound. I have to warn you this mesmerizing book is hard to put down and is one of the best reads I've had all year.

Unforgettable events, unforgettable story

The Vélodrome d'Hiver, once a stadium for bicycle races and concerts in Paris, no longer exists. Its grim significance in the most shameful part of France's WWII history is detailed on a sign that marks this spot: "On July 16 and 17, 1942, 13,152 Jews were arrested in Paris and the suburbs, deported and assassinated at Auschwitz. In the Vélodrome d'Hiver that once stood on this spot, 1,129 men, 2,916 women, and 4,115 children were packed here in inhuman conditions by the government of the Vichy police, by order of the Nazi occupant. May those who tried to save them be thanked. Passerby, never forget!" Sarah Starzynski, a 10-year-old little girl was one of those children, and along with her parents, Wladyslaw and Rywka, her world collapsed that fateful day in 1942 in Nazi-occupied France. Shortly before their arrest by the French police, she locked her little brother, Michel, in a closet that was their hiding place in order to protect him from the gendarme who ambushed their home. Thinking that it was all a mistake and that they'll be released soon, she promises Michel that she'll be back to get him and pockets the closet's brass key. Sarah's story alternates with that of American journalist, Julia Tézac née Jarmond, in 2002. Julia has lived in Paris for twenty-five years and is married to a self-centered Bertrand, but she is adrift. Regarded as 'L'Americaine' who doesn't quite belong in the city she's lived in for so long, her marriage is starting to unravel, creating a marital chasm that widens as the story progresses. The Tézac family is polite but aloof, and only her smart daughter, Zöe, and her friends provide Julia the support and encouragement she sorely needs. Julia's editor wants her to cover the story of Vélodrome d'Hiver and the roundup of Jews in time for the 60th commemoration of the tragedy. She throws herself into her assignment, and as she researches the shameful events of that summer in 1942, she becomes obsessed with Sarah's history and what has become of her and the little Michel. Not long after, she uncovers a startling link between her husband's family and Sarah, a secret kept in shame for six decades. Along the way, Julia discovers her true self--as a mother, and as a woman. Tatiana De Rosnay has created a memorable story, made poignant by the reality of Vel' d'Hiv' and the camps in France, such as Pithiviers and Beaune-La-Rolande, that served as antechambers to Auschwitz. Her unwavering narrative underscores France's complicity in the murder and deportation of the Jews in Europe, a fact acknowledged by the Chirac government decades later. Called, ironically enough, Operation Spring Breeze, under the Vichy regime, France sent nearly 80,000 Jews to the death camps as fellow Frenchmen stood by and watched. A story of two families connected by deep sorrow and a tragic secret becomes even more affecting set against these true and contemptible events. Holocaust fiction presents a unique challenge to a writer.

It's called Elle s'appelait Sarah in the French Version

I'm here in Paris for the summer for an NEH Seminar entitled Visions of the Dark Years: World War II and its legacy in France, and I'm doing a project on the "rafle du Vel d'Hiv"- the massive round-up of Jews that took place in Paris on July 16th, 1942. I purchased this book in French at the bookstore at Le Memorial de la Shoah, not knowing that it had been translated from English. The story is haunting, and interesting, as we follow it in flashbacks. I am doing an annotated bibliography of books on the subject for my seminar project. This story will appeal to my younger students, teaching them at the same time of this shameful episode of French collaboration with the German occupiers, under the Vichy government. France was the only occupied European country to pass its own laws regarding Jews, which were even stricter than those of the Third Reich. By looking the other way,and pretending not to know where the Jews were being transported after the local French camps at Drancy and Pithiviers (they were immediately transported to Auschwitz) some 9,000 French police catalogued and arrested over 13,000 French and foreign Jews residing in France, and sent them to the Velodrome d'Hiver, a large stadium in Paris. This is a shameful episode in French history, retold in a poignant and gripping fashion.
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