Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sarah's Key

Now that was worth popping the bubbly!  Blondie in from Sun Vally and a full house.  Plus, we figured out all it takes is champagne to get Ms. K. to drink.  No mere wine for her any!  But you don't have to be if you just pick up a $10 sparkler from Trader Joe's.  Refreshing, tasty, and the best part of all is that its distinctive orange label could be mistaken for Veuve from a distance.

Cremant de Bourgogne.  $9.99 at Trader Joe's

We caught up on the month's gossip over spicy tuna rolls, toro on crispy rice, and a few other options on the other side of the table that were out of El Jefe's reach.  Why would she reach with champagne in one hand and sushi in the other?  No need.  We then continued on to a mixed green salad and a hearty tortilla soup topped with sour cream, shredded jack and cheddar cheese, and crispy tortilla strips.  ¡Muy caliente y lishy!  And in a sort of post-Valentine's Day homage, chocolate chip cookies baked in a copper heart-shaped pan polished off a fantastic dinner.

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay rated 8.13--plus 2.  Not to entirely shut out Ms. K's all-time-TCOB-low rating (being the hostess no less!), but rather to separately acknowledge it as an outlier among the rest of the generally high scores.  This was a Children in Peril book, Ms. K's least favorite genre (even lower ranking than "ghetto lit") and of course not easy for anyone to read.  According to the reports, there was not a dry eye among us (except perhaps the steely Blondie--or did her tears just freeze to solid ice in that snowy Sun Valley clime?).  Certainly El Jefe blubbered the whole way through, although admittedly that's not saying much coming from someone who gets equally choked up watching the GE Healthymagination commercials or the ads for the United Negro College Fund.

But aside from featuring Children in Peril, Ms. K thought the story was contrived, excessive, and written with the sole purpose of tugging at one's heartstrings from cover to cover.  The other main critique of this book was that its protagonist, Julia, went off on a self-indulgent lark when she started flying around the world to track down Sarah's only remaining family member--her son who knew nothing of the circumstances of Sarah's tragic childhood.  Some of us couldn't understand what possessed her to undertake this mission, which was bound to bring shock and hurt to Sarah's unsuspecting kin.  Others of us empathized with Julia's need to make an apology, to clear her conscience, and to see that Sarah's legacy was not forgotten.  Nor will the horrific events of the Vel'd'Hiv' be forgotten thanks to this book.  It was stunning that none of us, at least those educated in the United States, had ever been taught about the Vel' d'Hiv in our high school history classes, and barely about the Nazi occupation of France at all.  Even La Mademoiselle said that her knowledge of that time and some of the political figures involved was only partly learned in school, the rest picked up from the dinner table grumblings of her pere every time the controversial Francois Mitterand came on TV.  Kudos to this brave, French author for bringing to light a sad and shameful subject that many would rather leave in the darkness. 

Rafle du Vel' d'Hiv.  July 16-17, 1942, Paris.

Inside the Vel' d'Hiv.
Le Monument Commemoratif de la Rafle du Vel' d'Hiv.  Paris 15e.

Our next meeting, as of now, is on the regularly-scheduled day in April.  Blondie is going to try to host while she is in town.  If memory serves (and usually it doesn't), the Doctor is bringing apps and Red dessert.  The May meeting will be at Chez Jefe.  Our two books are below, and my favorite advice is above.  

P.S.  Can we give it up for Kathryn Bigelow?!  The first female to win the Best Director award in 82 years of Oscars!  And a Columbia grad to boot...

Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I guess I had some strong opinions about this book. So what is the score if you don't exclude my rating?!


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