Sarah’s Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay, became available for download from the library yesterday. I started reading it in the laundromat this morning. I’m 12% of the way through it, and I am loving it. (Thank you, Elle, for the recommendation!)
Sarah’s Key (original title: Elle s’appelait Sarah) is a fictionalized account of the actual Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup of 1942 in which several thousand French Jews were relocated, not by the Nazis, but by the French police, to the Vélodrome d’Hiver, where they were held for days without food or water, until being sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.
The book is following two plots, so far, alternating between the two. One plot takes place in 1942. A ten-year-old girl and her mother are in their Paris apartment, about to be arrested and relocated. The girl is under several misconceptions. She thinks the Germans are sending only men to “the camps” (whatever those are). She thinks her father is hiding in the cellar. She thinks the police will release them in a few hours. So, she locks her 4-year-old brother in a hidden closet with only some water and a flashlight. She pockets the key. Her father shows up outside and he is also taken to the vélodrome before anyone is able to rescue the brother.
The other plot takes place in 2002. An American woman, married to a Frenchman, is living in Paris. They are planning on moving into an apartment once owned by the husband’s grandparents. The woman is working as a writer for a magazine, and has been given an assignment to write about the upcoming 60th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup. It’s not going to be an easy assignment, she’s told, because the French tend to be ashamed of that part of their history.
It’s grim reading, but it’s well-written.
After we got home from the laundromat, Phillip and I had brunch at a little restaurant in Belltown named Twisted Pasty. It was our first time there. We’d actually never heard of the place until Phillip bought a Groupon. It was a rather elegant restaurant, and yet casual. (It is the new Belltown, after all.)
I was only vaguely familiar with the concept of a pasty – the working-class lunch of meat and vegetables wrapped in a pastry. I’m assuming the “twisted” refers to the inventiveness of the pasties served there. Phillip had the Bangers & Mash pasty and I had the Curry Chicken pasty. It was delicious and reasonably priced.
There was a map of the British Isles on the wall of Twisted Pasty. It was an outline map with major cities pointed out. Phillip and I have recently realized that we are both fairly ignorant of the geography of the region. Several days ago – I’ve forgotten what brought it up – we were trying to picture, from memory, where Ireland is in relation to England. It turned out that we were both picturing Ireland too far north. Today, looking at the map on the wall, we tried to figure out where Wales is. I thought it was in that bay area just south of Scotland. Phillip thought it was in that part jutting out to the west, just south of that bay area. It turned out, of course, that Phillip was right.
After a party on Friday, cruising around Everett on Saturday, laundry and brunch today, it felt good to simply relax this afternoon.