Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother, Michel, in a cupboard in the family’s apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours. Paris, May 2002: On Vel’d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France’s past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connects her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl’s ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d’Hiv’, to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah’s past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life. Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode.
- In July 1942, Paris police rounded up thousands of Jewish families, eventually sending them to the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Told in flashback, this event alternates and overlaps with the story of Julia Jarmond, an American journalist writing an article for the sixtieth anniversary of this dark, almost-forgotten chapter in French history. Polly Stone's delivery of Sarah's story is riveting with its spare emotional power. When Stone becomes Julia, she's less successful; however, this weakness is not her fault as Julia's part of the story is predictable and detracts from the power of Sarah's story. The story broadcasts well in advance hidden connections between Sarah and Julia, leaving no surprises, just disappointment that Julia's less-compelling story overpowers Sarah's tale. N.E.M. (c) AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine
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