Synopses & Reviews
Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a 10-year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel dHiv roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.
Paris, May 2002: On Vel d'Hiv's 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.
Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode.
"Tatiana de Rosnay offers a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround the painful episode in that country's history. De Rosnay's U.S. debut fictionalizes the 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, in which thousands of Jewish families were arrested, held at the Velodrome d'Hiver outside the city, then transported to Auschwitz. Forty-five-year-old Julia Jarmond, American by birth, moved to Paris when she was 20 and is married to the arrogant, unfaithful Bertrand Tezac, with whom she has an 11-year-old daughter. Julia writes for an American magazine and her editor assigns her to cover the 60th anniversary of the Vel' d'Hiv' roundups. Julia soon learns that the apartment she and Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand's family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants: Wladyslaw and Rywka Starzynski, parents of 10-year-old Sarah and four-year-old Michel. The more Julia discovers — especially about Sarah, the only member of the Starzynski family to survive — the more she uncovers about Bertrand's family, about France and, finally, herself. Already translated into 15 languages, the novel is de Rosnay's 10th (but her first written in English, her first language). It beautifully conveys Julia's conflicting loyalties, and makes Sarah's trials so riveting, her innocence so absorbing, that the book is hard to put down." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Masterly and compelling, it is not something that readers will quickly forget. Highly recommended." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"This is the shocking, profoundly moving and morally challenging story....It will haunt you, it will help to complete you...nothing short of miraculous." Augusten Burroughs
"A powerful novel...Tatiana de Rosnay has captured the insane world of the Holocaust and the efforts of the few good people who stood up against it in this work of fiction more effectively than has been done in many scholarly studies. It is a book that makes us sensitive to how much evil occurred and also to how much willingness to do good also existed in that world." Rabbi Jack Riemer, South Florida Jewish Journal
"Just when you thought you might have read about every horror of the Holocaust, a book will come along and shine a fierce light upon yet another haunting wrong. Sarah's Key is such a novel. In remarkably unsparing, unsentimental prose...through a lens so personal and intimate, it will make you cry — and remember." Jenna Blum, author of Those Who Save Us
Haunting and suspenseful, life-affirming and beautiful, Sarah's Key offers a compelling portrait of occupied Paris and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this little-known episode in French history.
About the Author
Tatiana de Rosnay was born in the suburbs of Paris and is of English, French, and Russian descent. She is the author of nine French novels and writes for French Elle, and is a literary critic for Psychologies magazine. Tatiana de Rosnay is married and has two children. Sarah's Key is her first novel written in her mother tongue, English.