Monday, March 20, 2017

Week 11: Historical Fiction Annotation

Sarah's Key
by Tatiana De Rosnay
Publication Date: September 30, 2008

Number of Pages: 295 pages

Geographical Setting: Paris, France

Time Period: 1942 & 2002

Plot Summary: 
Using a little known horror from French history, Tatiana De Rosnay weaves a tale between two women living 60 years apart. 

 In Paris of 1942, the French police, working with the Nazis, go house to house for all the Jews in what is known as the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup. A young girl named Sarah finds herself dragged from home with her mother and father. Before she leaves, however, she locks her little brother in a hidden cabinet to keep him safe and promises him she will be back shortly. Little does she know, she will break this promise as she and her family are sent to concentration camps.  

Sixty years later, Julia is a journalist who is assigned to cover the anniversary events for the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup. She is a middle aged woman who finds herself in a unhappy marriage and desperate for a change. As she researches her topic, she discovers connections between her and the young Sarah. This takes her on a journey that will change her life forever.

Subject Headings:    Jews--France--Fiction.
                                World War, 1939-1945 -- France -- Anniversaries,etc. -- Fiction.
                                Americans -- France -- Fiction.
                                Women authors -- Fiction.
                                Family secrets -- Fiction.
                                France -- History -- German occupation, 1940-1945 -- Fiction.
                                Paris (France) -- Fiction. 

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Character-driven, Compelling, Thought-provoking

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):
3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
  • The Paris Architect- Charles Belfoure: Like Sarah's Key, this historical novel is also set in France during WWII. It focuses on an architect given the task of creating hidden spaces for Jews to hide.
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society- Mary Ann Shaffer: Both novels discuss life under German occupation during World War II. It is about a woman that learns through letters about a secret society going against the Germans.
  • Orphan Train- Christina Baker Kline: While one takes place in France and the other in America, both novels deal with children who were separated from their families and have never found their place. 

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
  • Night- Elie Wiesel- The author's firsthand account of his time in a concentration camp during the Holocaust.
  • The Zookeeper's Wife- Diane Ackerman- The true story of a Polish couple who saved refugees during the Holocaust by hiding them in their zoo.
  • Born Survivors- Wendy Holden- This title tells the story of three young women who were pregnant and widowed during the Holocaust.


  1. Hello Melissa! After reading your annotation, I really want to know now what happened to Sarah's brother. Did he get out? Was he caught? I might just have to read this book now to find out. Also, isn't there a movie based on this book? I think it came out a few years ago. It would be interesting to see how the movie compares to the book. Great job on annotation!

    1. Sorry, this comment above is actually from me, I just realized I was signed in with my work account when I commented!

  2. This book has been on my to read shelf for ages, your summary makes me want to read it even more! Full points!