After reading the first quarter of Rosnay’s Sarah’s Key, I am absorbed in two different stories within one novel. In every other chapter the book changes perspectives. It switches between a Jewish family’s journey through the roundup in 1942 during Velodrome d’Hiver, and a modern American woman’s association with the Vel’d’Hiv when she is assigned to research the event for the magazine she works for because the sixteenth anniversary is coming up. The consistent change of viewpoint the story is being told from was hard to follow at the very beginning of the book, but as the stories go on, they become more comprehendable. Besides the researched topic being the time the family is living through, I am not yet quite sure how the different stories relate to each other and look forward to reading and learning more and discovering this.
So far, the development of the two stories has been contradicting. The evolution of the characters in the story from 1942 is relatively weak. They are seemingly thrown into the novel and it is left up to the reader to interrpret their relations and little to no background is given on them. Despite this approach Rosnay took when telling this story, the characters in the modern story are well introduced and detailed recaps of their background are given. Another way the stories within the novel differ, is the narration. The part told from 1942 is spoken in third person but mainly focuses on the young ten-year-old girl’s thoughts and actions. However, the journalist’s story 60 years later is told from her point of view, and she is forty five. The young girl’s denial and optomism throughout the negativity portrays her lack of understanding of the events taking place. After her research, the journalist can see the harsh ways these families were treated and validates all sadness the people who were involved face.
Despite the obvious difference in their ages, there is a connection between the two stories, through both the young girl and the journalist’s confusion with the larger event their focusing on, the Vel’d’Hiv. Except for brief conversations where she’s recognized the pain and sadness her parents have talked with, the girl is confused and does not understand what is going on. Despite the girl’s uncertainty, it does not affect the reader’s understanding of the events too much due to the third person the story is told from. This confusion of the event is connected to the other story as well, because when first given the assignment, the journalist did not even know of the Vel’d’Hiv. The journalist interviews a Parisian woman who talks about her confusion of the situation as a bystander who saw all these frightened Jewish families leaving in buses with policemen as well. Rosnay has discussed in interviews, that part of her inspiration of writing the book is to educate more people on this historical event because she thinks Vel’d’Hiv is often overlooked. I believe the concept of this confusion in both stories was purposely included by Rosnay to help the introduction to foreshadow later events, and to show the lack of knowledge of this situtation from multiple different perspectives.
There has been mention of the young girl, who’s name is Sarah, and a key she kept through the removal from her house, which can unlock the basement where her brother is hiding from the policemen. I look forward to learning the relevance this specific key has to do with the story, hense the relevance it has to the entire novel because of the title. Up to now, the story has been nothing less than captivating with the balance of the two stories. I look forward to learning how, seemingly seperate at the moment, these stories connect to help the larger plot in Sarah’s Key.