15 July 2011

Vel' d'Hiver and Sarah's Key, A Powerful Reminder And A Book Review

Publisher's Review:

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ 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.

Some of the facts behind the story:

La rafle du velodrome d'hiver  (Vel' d'hiver Police roundup) was the arrest and eventual deportation of Jews in Paris on the 16 and 17th of July 1942. The Nazis called this Operation Vent Printanier (Operation Spring Breeze).
13,152 were arrested, 5802 were women, 4,051 were children according to French Police records and some 7,500 were taken by buses to the Vel' d'Hiver. Others were immediately sent to internment camps.
With its painted glass roof and windows screwed shut for security, the velodrome's heat soon became unbearable...No lavatories, one water tap... those who tried to escape were shot whilst others took their lives...
Five days later, they were sent to internments camps and from Austerlitz train station to extermination.

In 1995 French President Jacques Chirac formerly apologized for the role of French Police and Civil servants in this raid.

My review of this particular book:

Tatiana de Rosnay has written a most poignant story that no one will soon forget! Too often events such as the one described have been hidden away in the hope no one will remember. 
But it happened and we should not forget!
Her writing is eloquent, her story can only be termed as mesmerizing and this is a novel I highly recommend you read!
Most of all, this is a story of an undeniable atrocity against people whose only crime was their race and many of these were French citizens!

Sarah's Key is a book you will feel compelled to finish no matter the powerful emotions you will experience at the series of events leading to the eventual climax of the story. 
Sarah and all the other victims of that fateful spring 59 years ago should never be forgotten!

Finally, Tatiana de Rosnay choice of ending is one of hope and survival and I very much doubt anyone will dispute its ultimate message! We need to believe there is a better future for us all...
May God be at our side always...
Forgive but NEVER FORGET!

To learn more about Tatiana de Rosnay, read (here)

I gave this book 5 stars!

Note: This story has now also been turned into a movie. As an after thought, this post reflects my opinion only and was not solicitated! 

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