North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Dark episode in French history told eloquently


Sarah's Key

By Tatiana de Rosnay

($13.95, St. Martin's Griffin)

Tatiana de Rosnay has put her pen to a remarkable and memorable novel, filled with drama and an episode in history that never surfaced in our history books.

An American journalist is living in Paris with her French husband when she is assigned to write about Vel' d'Hiv', the roundup of the Jews in Nazi-occupied France. "Sarah's Key" tells of her search for details about this event, paired with what happened to Sarah, a young Jewish girl who lived with her family in Paris until mid-July 1942. The stories of the journalist and of Sarah are easily differentiated by the different typestyles that are used as they rotate throughout the book.

In 1942 Europe was experiencing an expulsion of Jews, but the French felt secure. They were afraid of the German Nazis who would come after their citizens; they were not afraid of the French police. When Sarah's mother opens the door to these trusted uniforms, the family is given little time to grab a suitcase before being marched down the boulevard to the trains. Sarah's little brother runs into their secret cupboard in the bedroom and begs her to keep him safe. She loves him so much that she helps him close the door before she joins the other people forced to leave their homes. She is sure that she will be able to return for him later in the day.

She takes the key with her.

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