My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Superb. I inhaled this book in about 36 hours. A proverbial tour de force. Very well written. 10 star rating. I highly recommend it.
Excellent contrapuntal plot device throughout the first half of the book, expertly woven together in the second half. Whenever I thought it was about to slip into the angst of personal romance (something I don’t care for myself) the story moved on, though a fictional personal story is central to the plot and in the end is well-presented in its own right.
I’m a young old man. 65 years young as we like to say. Physically active and in good health, most of the time, coping with and then ignoring various illnesses and infirmities as they come and go with slightly increasing frequency.
I have to keep reminding myself Sarah’s Key is a work of FICTION. Still those of us who are not WWII Holocaust deniers must appreciate the historical context of stories such as this, in the case of this book the July 1942 round-up of Jews in Paris and their subsequent shipment to Auschwitz for execution.
Reference my age I find myself emotionally more fragile than in earlier years. I’m not an incessant weeper (I like to think) but these days I find myself easily moved to tears at heart-wrenching stories such as those about the Holocaust. (I could never do the 6 o’clock news.) Stories, movies, and re-presentations such as Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, and Sarah’s Key. (At the very least ‘Private Ryan’, ‘Schindler’s’, and a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. should be required viewing for every high school student in perpetuity. They could read Sarah’s Key for extra credit. Iranian President and Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should be required to view also, but I digress.) I didn’t sob while reading this book but my eyes did well up numerous times. I was MOVED.
In the last 2 years my lady and I have been on 2 bus tours in Europe focused on following the footsteps of her father’s WWII infantry division in their part in liberating parts of Belgium and Holland. I am equally moved to tears when I try to talk about the profound appreciation for that liberation that still exists and is expressed, particularly by the Dutch, in southern Holland (vicinity of Zundert, Oudenbosch, and Staandarbuiten) and northern Belgium (such as Wuust-Wezel).
WWII may well have been the last war in which there was a clearly defined enemy and a clear, common goal to pursue in their defeat. I still find it hard to believe that atrocities such as the Holocaust could be committed in the 20th century.
Any book like Sarah’s Key that reminds us of these horrors does a service to us all. I trust intelligent people throughout the ages to come will not let these memories be suppressed or fade into antiquity.