Pivotal to this novel is the key in ten-year-old Sarah's pocket. It opens the cupboard in which she has hidden her younger brother from the French police, who are rounding up Jews in Paris. It is July 16, 1942, and Sarah, along with her parents and hundreds more people, are brought to the stadium Vlodrome d'Hiver, where they spend several days without food or water before being sent to French camps en route to Auschwitz. Arriving at the camp Beaune-la-Rolande, Sarah is separated from her parents and manages to escape. Nearby farmers not only protect but eventually adopt her. In alternating chapters, we read of American-born journalist Julia Jarmond, who's working on a magazine story about the "Vel'd'Hiv" roundup on its 60th anniversary. Because the grandparents of Julia's husband moved into the apartment once owned by Sarah's family, we learn what Sarah discovers when she finally returns ten years later with the key--knowledge so traumatic that it changes Julia's life forever. This debut by French-born de Rosnay has been translated into 15 languages and will surely be an international best seller. Masterly and compelling, it is not something that readers will quickly forget. Highly recommended.--Lisa Rohrbaugh, East Palestine Memorial P.L., OH[Page 78]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
De Rosnay's U.S. debut fictionalizes the 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, in which thousands of Jewish families were arrested, held at the Vlodrome d'Hiver outside the city, then transported to Auschwitz. Forty-five-year-old Julia Jarmond, American by birth, moved to Paris when she was 20 and is married to the arrogant, unfaithful Bertrand Tzac, with whom she has an 11-year-old daughter. Julia writes for an American magazine and her editor assigns her to cover the 60th anniversary of the Vl' d'Hiv' roundups. Julia soon learns that the apartment she and Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand's family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants: Wladyslaw and Rywka Starzynski, parents of 10-year-old Sarah and four-year-old Michel. The more Julia discovers--especially about Sarah, the only member of the Starzynski family to survive--the more she uncovers about Bertrand's family, about France and, finally, herself. Already translated into 15 languages, the novel is De Rosnay's 10th (but her first written in English, her first language). It beautifully conveys Julia's conflicting loyalties, and makes Sarah's trials so riveting, her innocence so absorbing, that the book is hard to put down. (July)[Page 38]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.