Review: Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

“Sarah’s Key” Kept Me Up Late, But The Ending Left Me Flat
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay was recommended to me a while ago and yet I let it sit on the shelf because, among other reasons, a Holocaust story involving a four-year-old boy (I’m not giving away the plot it is on the blurb) gave me pause: some things I just can’t read. But, the film is coming out and I got stuck in over Labor Day—and stayed up until 1am to finish it. Anything that keeps me up after 11pm had better be a darn good read. And it was.

The reader follows two parallel stories that eventually converge. The first is of 10-year-old Sarah, taken from her home in a Vichy round-up of Jews in Paris, 1942. The second is 45-year-old Julia Jarmond, living a life perhaps just a tad too cliché’d in Paris, 2002 and on the verge of moving into Sarah’s old apartment.

Of the two storylines, I was more compelled by the story of Sarah—her struggle to stay alive, cope with her guilt, the loss of her family—those were the plot points that kept me turning the page. Paris, circa 2002 with a cheating French husband…not so much. Nor did I think the life/death drama for Julia and her husband—I won’t spoil it for you—was well done. It felt contrived, yet I do understand the author was trying to give some balance to the two storylines. It is hard to balance anything against the apocryphal tragedy of the Holocaust.

When the storylines finally converge, I was on the edge of my seat—and yet I think the author lingered too long. Sometimes, lives do not converge, stories are not neat and tidy—but Sarah’s story and Julia’s merge and are tied up with a pretty bow—a bit too pretty for me. All that said, it is definitely worth a read and I’ll be in line for the movie when it opens, especially because the magnificent British actress Kristin Scott Thomas is playing Julia.

7 comments on “Review: Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

  1. […] WWII story-though admittedly I’ve read less non-fiction than fiction (Charlotte Gray, Atonement, Sarah’s Key, among great historical fiction reads).  I also love WWII movies—”Bridge over the River […]

  2. susie says:

    Hi Geri,
    I agree, I thought the book was worth “staying up to finish”! Even thought the one plot seemed too tidy, I didn’t mind at all. I think it was needed to contrast with the historical plot. Have you read The Postmistress? The setting is in England just before the United States enters W.W. II, it also has two story lines, but both are during the same time – one story in the U.S. one in England. I think you’d love it.

    • I haven’t, but I will put it on my list. I’m reading that “Game of Thrones” series–which is fantasy fiction and oh so good. I don’t normally read fantasy, but really enjoyed the HBO series. (And hey, it has so many echoes of medieval society, it is not that far off!)

  3. I would have rather the story lines stayed separate– followed Sarah and how she dealt with the ‘discovery.’ Much more interesting than the Julia story, I thought. There were also parts that I thought the author telegraphed chapters in advance. Like the very end.

    • Thanks Mary, You mean like two separate books?! I agree with you though. It is interesting that you knew what was coming for Sarah, but it didn’t matter, it was compelling –and you knew what was coming for Julia and it did matter, it was as predictable but less compelling. Still, I really did like the book, and kept turning the pages. I just think the author did a better job of Sarah’s story than Julia’s.

  4. Linda Schmalz says:

    Are you signed up at Goodreads? You should be! 🙂

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