Published October 2011 by St. Martin's Press
Source: I purchased my audiobook copy
Narrator: Polly Stone
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.
de Rosnay here has taken a little known French World War II event and crafted a story about a fictional family destroyed by it combined with that of a modern journalist who discovers a link between her in-laws and the Jewish family. Which is an interesting, although improbable, idea. Most people seem to love this book. I had a lot of problems with it. Not the least of which is the fact that I'm getting really tired of books that have dual story lines with one set in the past. So often one takes a back seat to the other, often the one I'm more interested in. As it did for me here.
Also, it didn't seem to me that de Rosnay could decide whether or not Sarah was as naive as a typical ten-year-old or amazingly perceptive; in the beginning, she only knew that secrets were being held from her yet later she seemed to have been aware of much more about what was happening in her world. And then there was the love story twist - which almost made me stop listening to the book before I got to the end. I knew, long before we reached that point, that de Rosnay was working that way (it's a given when the husband is kind of a lout that the marriage will end, isn't it?). I just hated the idea that the whole story had been a way to bring these two people together.
The reason there are so many books with World War II as a central point is because there are so very many stories to tell. I had never heard of the Vel' d'Hiv roundup before; Tatiana de Rosnay, who is French and went to school there in the 1970's, had not even been taught about it.
|A race at the Veldrome d'Hiver|
|Memorial to those taken July 16 and 17, 1942|