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If the superb simplicity of this saga isn't enough to draw you in, Polly Stone's flawless narration will. She gives each character a distinct voice (complete with accurate accent and pitch), which lends authenticity, as if the characters themselves have come alive within her. This novel, like most accounts of the Holocaust, is weighty, ridden with horrific details. Stone's tone is subtle, letting these details ring out and strike your heart. She's also a master at building suspense, and you'll find yourself so endeared by little Sarah, that you will be white-knuckled for her during her frightening journey.
The last portion of the novel is a bit drawn out, but this is forgivable, as the denouement is touching, and Sarah's struggle is one that will stick with you long after you've finished listening to it. Colleen Oakley
Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a 10-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.
About the film: Stéphane Marsil presents a film by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, adapted from the novel by Tatiana de Rosnay published by Heloise D’Ormesson; Kristin Scott Thomas, Melusine Mayance, Niels Arestrup, Frederic Pierrot, Michel Duchaussoy, Dominique Frot, Natasha Mashkevich, with the participation of Gisele Casadesus and Aidan Quinn in the role of William Rainsferd. Screenplay by Serge Joncour and Giles Paquet-Brenner; Produced by Stéphane Marsil; Director of Photography Pascal Ridao (A.F.C.); 1st Assistant Director Olivier Coutard; Casting Gwendale Schmitz; Set Design Francoise Dupertuis (A.D.C.); Wardrobe Eric Perron; Sound Engineer Didier Codoul, Bruno Seznec, Alexandre Fleurant and Fabien Devillers; Editing Herve Schneid (A.C.E.); Original Music Max Richter; Line Producer Clement Sentilhes; Production Manager Antoine Theron. The Weinstein Company presents a Hugo Productions – Studio 37 – TF1 Droits Audiovisuels – France 2 Cinema; Co-Production with the participation of Canal+, TPS Star and France Televisions with the support of Region Ile-De-France; in association with the sofica A Plus Image.
" Sarah's Key unlocks the star crossed, heart thumping story of an American journalist in Paris and the 60-year-old secret that could destroy her marriage. This book will stay on your mind long after it's back on the shelf." (Risa Miller, author of Welcome to Heavenly Heights)
"The story is heart-wrenching, and Polly Stone gives an excellent performance, keeping a low-key tone through descriptions of horror that would elicit excessive dramatics from a less talented performer." ( Publishers Weekly, starred review)
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Benson on 04-15-10
Important subject and plot, pedestrian execution
As a longtime member of a university Holocaust Studies Advisory Board, this was a must-read. Alternating Sarah's and Julia's voices was audacious and successful as the plot unfolded, particularly the Sarah segments. But the novel became diffuse after Sarah (maybe halfway through the book), with plots, subplots, distracting detail, and an almost narcissistic and distracting focus on Julia's marriage and personal life. It began to read like another book--not very different from many other fictional looks at women's lives, identities, careers, marriages, hopes and disappointments. Yes, a very important genre, but it would have taken a much greater gift than Ms. de Rosnay has to meld these two novels into one. As the plot drifts, and Sarah becomes a small penumbra, the writing becomes pedestrian, and though it is not a long book, I was glad to finally reach the end.
I give the book three stars because of the subject matter and the quality of Sarah's segments.
The narrator is very good throughout, rendering the accents and affects of the many characters with skill and confidence. What must have been a lot of hard work in this voicing challenge was well worth it.
31 of 33 people found this review helpful
By Kathryn on 03-28-10
Interesting history, fair story.
I learned some history I didn't know, and that's good. I was very disappointed with the character development. This should have been a strong, memorable story, but it fell way short. I would have much preferred to see only Sarah's story told. The current day characters were shallow, boring, and added pretty much nothing to the book.
16 of 17 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Elizabeth Davies on 03-04-09
A good listen.
I listened to this book as I travelled by train to Yorkshire and back and it engrossed me the whole journey. The characters were very strongly drawn and the story is well crafted. The only itrritation for me was some instances of cliched dialogue ... but the reader did a good job!!!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By J. Savage on 02-14-12
Fascinating, heartbreaking and a little too long
This is a heartbreaking story based around an event I had never heard of - and for the first two thirds of the book I was expecting to give it four or maybe five stars. The narration is excellent, and the story of Sarah told so well, that I could not stop listening.
Often when I finish a book I wonder "What happened next? What did the characters in the book go on to do?" In this case, I think I would have preferred to wonder - the last part of the book feels a bit unnecessary and is far less interesting than the rest of it. That said, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it (but have some tissues handy!).
1 of 1 people found this review helpful