Sarah's Key

Monday, August 10, 2009


I've been informed by my V.P. - who continues to refuse to call me Commander in Chief despite the fact that I humor her and call her Biden all the time - that I am horribly misinformed about what "Books You May Have Actually Heard Of" Week is supposed to be all about. I was under the impression that the original idea (which came from Matt), was that I should read books that have just been released. Apparently, I'm supposed to be reading books that are already popular. So I had to inform her that sometimes when you're the Commander in Chief of the blog, you have to make difficult decisions that aren't always popular with the public - because that's what separates the good blogging Presidents from the great ones. So I'm amending "Books You May Have Actually Heard Of" Week, and making it a combination of books that have just been released and books that are really popular already.

Today's book, "De Rosnay's U.S. debut fictionalizes the 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, in which thousands of Jewish families were arrested, held at the Vélodrome d'Hiver outside the city, then transported to Auschwitz. Forty-five-year-old Julia Jarmond, American by birth, moved to Paris when she was 20 and is married to the arrogant, unfaithful Bertrand Tézac, with whom she has an 11-year-old daughter. Julia writes for an American magazine and her editor assigns her to cover the 60th anniversary of the Vél' d'Hiv' roundups. Julia soon learns that the apartment she and Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand's family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants."

Today's book is not a recent release, but I have been hearing about it all over the book blog world, and I have had several people recommend it to me. I also picked the book because I really like the cover. In the past picking a book based on the cover has always ended badly for me. But, the streak is officially broken, because I loved today's book. In fact, I think it might be my favorite book for the whole year.

There was only one flaw to the book - the chapters were very short (3-5 pages), so I got a mild case of literary whiplash in the beginning from switching back and forth from 1942 to 2002 so often. The one little flaw only seemed like a problem in the beginning of the book, because once I reached the middle of the book I began to feel relieved that the chapters about 1942 were so short. It's hard to deal with such a difficult subject for long stretches of time - and since I'm reading the book all in one day and don't have the option of taking a break from it - it was nice to have those little breaks from the emotionally draining parts of the book.

I'm really looking forward to discussing this book with my Great Uncle Vic the next time I see him. At Christmas he shared some stories about his time in General Patton's army, and his experience of liberating a concentration camp. He's full of interesting stories - including one about heading to Hollywood after the war and working on the construction crew that renovated Frank Sinatra's house. Every time he's around I feel like I should be recording everything he says. Or maybe I should convince him to write his own blog - I could tell him that blogging is in our DNA and that he can't fight the DNA.