A story in two parts

Sarah’s Key is a story that I read in two parts. Fittingly, it’s also written in two parts.

I had started this book earlier this year, but something made me set it aside for awhile. I only recently came back to it.

Despite what the break may signify, I did enjoy this novel.

Sarah’s Key (by Tatiana de Rosnay) centres around World War II, and the round-up in 1942 by French police of Jewish citizens. The round-up is known as Vel d’Hiv. The book follows the story of a  young Jewish girl who is arrested with her family and, 60 years later, a journalist who is writing an article about Vel d’Hiv.

Prior to reading Sarah’s Key, I had not heard of Vel d’Hiv. Awareness is a theme of the book, whether it’s the French people in the 1940s ignoring what was happening to their Jewish neighbours or 60 years later when the round-up is a mostly unknown part of French history.

I enjoyed the two stories embodied in the book. Interweaving two story lines is a common tactic for some writers. It’s a way for writers to explore key themes and develop parallel story lines. Usually the two stories come together later in the book. In Sarah’s Key, de Rosnay delves into families, secrets and childhood as the journalist uncovers the story of the young girl and tries to find her all those years later.

It’s unusual that I would set a book aside, like I did with this one. As I looked at it sitting on my nightstand, I would think back to the story and the characters. I was drawn in by both story lines and as they switched throughout the book, I kept wanting to get to the next part and see what was going to happen to each character.

Photos, letters, speeches and news articles all play a part in bringing Sarah’s story from 1942 to light in 2002. It’s interesting to think of the different documents and records we have in our lives and how someone would tell our story in the future.


Two more two-story books:

  • All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – Another story set in France in World War II. This book follows two characters–a young boy and young girl–through the same time period. Eventually the two meet up.
  • The Lake House by Kate Morton – Similar to Sarah’s Key, in this book the stories are separated by time–many, many decades.

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