Created on Tuesday, 06 December 2011 00:00
Written by Samantha See
Brilliantly done, Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay is not one but two stories interwoven together into an engaging and informative read of one of the darkest pages in French history.
The first begins in Paris July 1942 where 10-year-old Sarah Starzynski is taken together with her parents by the French police as they arrest Jewish families through the night. Innocently thinking that she could protect her four-year-old brother Michel by hiding and locking him up in their secret hiding place in the family cupboard, she promises to return quickly.
60 years down the road, we fast forward to Julia Jarmond, a journalist who is assigned to research and tell the story of the largely unknown or ignored Vel d'Hiv. And as she writes her article, she rediscovers herself partly and makes an important decision through her discovery of Sarah's story.
The stories are presented in short alternating chapters that would leave you craving for more until midway where Sarah's eventual fate is left a mystery. I wished more could have been written on Sarah's struggles that led up to and explained her final choice. I also wished less was written on Julia's struggles as they seem a tad too trivial and even expected as the book progresses.
Regardless, though the movie adaptation does a better job of allocating screen time for the two stories, the novel is an engaging read for a thoughtful weekend and especially if you are planning to visit Paris for your year-end holiday.