mardi 8 avril 2008

In the bookshop it is fun to say that this novel is Le Divorce meets Suite Française- I say this not so much for the style(s) but for the time periods - as it is a novel that links Paris in 2002 and Paris in 1942., This is a novel that explores the extremely sad and sickening act of the French round up of jewish adults and children on July 16th, 1942 in Paris - the consequential passage through the Vel d'Hiv (in the 15th arrondisement) and French camps (where children were separated by force from their mothers) and then extermination in Germany and the modern tale of an american journalist and mother ( with a typical cheating French husband). There are two heroines, one the child (Sarah) who locks up her brother in a cupboard on the day the French police come to collect her family and tries to return to save him, and secondly our modern day American who decides to investigate what happened to the apartment they are renovating in the Marais district during that period and discovers that her French family she has married into is rife with family secrets that need to be aired. The book is an important one- the author chose to write the novel in her mother tongue English because as she wrote in her writer's blog : " I felt that writing the book in English and not in French, and having an American heroine, could give me the distance I needed considering the touchy subject matter where France is concerned.... "

Reviewed by RWB's Penelope Le Masson

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