Hello My Little French Hens,
So I will be reviewing my first book here on my blog. If you are looking for a simple review, you are better off at Amazon.com. I will be talking about all the reasons this book touched me deeply. In other words, this may take a while.
Here it is: Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.
Basically while I was at the airport waiting to catch my flight to New York at the crack of dawn. I had some time to kill, so I decided to blow some cash at the bookshop. I bought an issue of Cosmo.
I then stumbled upon the cover of the book above. Just the picture alone resonated with me. Two children running with their backs facing the reader, and Old Europe as the backround. I had a feeling it was about sad, historical events. Turns out, it was about France, and their participation in the Holocaust. I was intrigued. France isn't usually a country that comes to mind when discussing the Holocaust. It looked like a non-fiction book and I really wanted to learn something.
I bought the book and decided to continue it on the plane. When I opened the book, I realized that it was a work of fiction. I don't like fiction. I don't like stories. I don't like fantasy. I want to read about peoples' stories that actually took place.
But I decided that I would give the book a try anyway. I am glad that I did. Although I was disappointed in some of the fictional storyline, the book touched me deeply overall. The characters were fictional, but the historical aspect is true.
Europe is so beautiful and rich with history. It's such a shame that such beautiful countries with wonderful cultures have such an ugly past. But I know it's not just Europe. Pretty much everywhere you go has an ugly past even if it isn't in the history books.
In Sarah's Key, the reader gets to see how beautiful Paris, France has such an ugly past in World War II and how the government tried to cover it up for so long. If you go to Paris, you would never know that the French government(acting under orders form the German Gestapo), was responsible for rounding up their Jewish-French citizens and cramming them into the Vélodrome d'Hiver, (an indoor cycle track) before deporting them to concentration camps in July of 1942. For years the French government denied its involvement until French President Chirac decided it was time to own up to their culpability and appologized in 1995.
What is sad, is that none of these locations are mentioned in travel books. You really have to seek out this place in Paris or search for it online and read about them from other travel blogs, which is what I did. I will also cite my sources.
In Sarah's Key, Sarah a ten year old girl and her family are woken up in the middle of the night by the French Police. Sarah locks her brother in a secret cabinet, holds on to the key and promises her brother to return and save him.
Meanwhile, Julia Jarmond, an American journalist in Paris ends up investigating the Velodrome d"Hiver roundups of July 1942 known as La Grande Rafle. Sarah's story hits closer to home than she originally thought.
Each story was told separately until they started coming together as one in the book.
The book covers three topics:
1.) The story line of Sarah and her family, and that of the American reporter Julia Jarmond, who has lived in France for over 25 years. (Fictional)
2.) The actual history behind the Velodrome D'Hiver roundups in July 1942
3.) Being American and living in Paris France, and the struggle of being accepted into Parisian culture.
I will discuss more in my next post along with pictures, blog links and the flaws in the storyline.