Okay, so I told you all about joining book club in my neighborhood a while ago. I have not been very good at all updating you on the books the past couple months. So here goes.
May was a novel named "Rebecca", which I have not made it halfway through at this point. It is very dull and boring. The grammar is so horrible I can not bear to read it at all. I know that is a poor excuse, but what can I say grammar is very important when reading and writing.
I know I am not perfect, however I try as hard as I can to get it right. So I have stopped reading it and put away for now.
June was "Sarah's Key", by Tatiana De Rosnay. This was a wonderful historical novel, a fictional story based on historical facts. I really learned a lot about the French police and the Vel' d' Hiv' Roundup from 1940 to 1944. An amazing perspective on an event from World War Two which has not been taught in school, neither in Europe, the United States and especially in France.
Tatiana De Rosnay is from Paris France and was surprised to learn of this historical round up of Jews in WWII in her very own land, because it is not taught in school. She came across the information on the Vel' d' Hiv as she was researching for another story to write about events in homes and apartments in the Nelaton area of France. As she learned more about the roundup she knew it was time to write about it in the manner she chose so those who do not know may learn of the horrible things that came about during Germany occupied France in WWII.
Sarah is not mentioned by name until just about half way through the book, she is only referred to as the girl. When her name is finally revealed it is a heart wrenching moment in her story.
On July 16, 1942 a pounding on the apartment door wakes the girls mama. She is terrified to answer the door because of the previous roundup of men that took place. The girl urges her mama to answer the door only to find the French police standing there. They tell her to pack a small bag and gather her children and follow them to the street. The girl goes to get her four year old brother from his room, she gives him some water, a book and his teddy bear and hides him in a secret place in her room. She tucks the key in her pocket thinking she can get her brother out soon and promises him so. She tells her mama she will leave the key for papa. The police start to question her about the whereabouts of papa, he comes out of his hiding place and states he is there as well.
Out in the street they are stared at and laughed at by the Parisian citizens. The girl recognizes her former friends and a man who plays music on the street. The man tries to tell the police they are wrong and they are good people. The police tell him to stay out of it.l They are paraded to the Vel' d' Hiv' stadium and locked up without bathroom facilities, food or water for several days before they are put on cattle cars and sent to a camp not far from O'rleans, which is out in the country.
At the camp they are separated by men, age 12 and up, and women and children under age 12. after over a month in the camp, which is not run by the Germans but by the French police under orders of the Third Reich, they take all the jewelry and money they have. Some were treated very cruelly during this portion of the stay. The girl is afraid they will discover the key in her pocket, but hey are to preoccupied with her mother to check her as they did her. The mothers are taken away at that moment and the children are left alone with no one. all the men and women over age 12 were then take to Auschwitz and executed. The younger children left alone with no food, water or love.
The girl escapes with the help of one of the other children and the French policeman that took them from their home on the fateful day. They get to a farm in O'rleans where a couple, the Dufaure's, take them in. They feed them and clothe them. Then Rachel, the girls friend, get sick with dysentery and the Dufaure's send for a doctor. The doctor they are used to is missing and no one will tell them, a German doctor comes and leaves with a warning.
Later the Germans come and take Rachel, but they do not discover Sarah in the cellar when they search. Sarah makes them take her back to Paris to get her brother. The Tezac's had moved into her home and could not help her.
Sarah runs in and opens the door and they find the boy dead. Sarah never gets over her brothers death. After being adopted by the Dufaure's she grows up sad and lonely because of the events in the war. At 18 she leaves for the U.S. to be a nanny.
Julia Jarmond is a journalist investigating the roundup for a 60 year commemoration happening across France. She is an American who has lived in Paris for 25 years and has a daughter of her own, Zoe, who she adores and a husband who is less than he should be.
They are remodeling the apartment on the Rue de Santonge, where Sarah's family lived. She finds out the story about Sarah and makes it her goal to let Sarah's son know about the round up and that the Tezac's cared for her financially as long as they could, and made the arrangements to bury her brother at the time he was found in the cupboard.
This was a disturbing historical event, the Jews were not and are not bad people. They did not deserve to be discriminated against them or now. I am saddened by a historical event which was kept hidden for so long. This is part of a terrible war that we should be aware of. I cried through out this book often as I read the events. They remind me of what happened across Europe during WWII. I am so grateful to not have lived during that time. This is a book I recommend to all.