I had heard many positive reviews of this book and borrowed the audio book from a friend who recommended it.
I expected an important or at least accomplished book on a rarely discussed subject.
So I was a little surprised while reading the first few pages to feel a deja vu of the 1980s. The style reminded me very much of Judith Krantz, Danielle Steel or Jeffrey Archer. I read quite a few of them in my teens - the type of airport books that were made into successful mini-series, with a basic but uninspiring use of language and rather melodramatic storylines.
Once we reached the narrative from Sarah’s point of view the story become more engrossing but as we got to the more distressing parts of the story I felt that such a bland, banal writing style collapsed under the weight of the subject matter. She should have horrified me, she should have made me cry but instead I felt distant.
Following the research on the Paris round-up was interesting but the author took the easy way out and was very careful not to let the protagonist encounter anyone who could be held to blame.
I wish the author had take a more ambitious path, making the in-laws slightly more culpable in the arrest of Sarah’s family (Nothing sensational. Maybe they could have been aware that the concierge would inform on the family and had an agreement with her that they would move into the house once it was vacated)
The book went from bad to worse once we came to Sarah’s story after the war. I found it incredible that a journalist who was researching events of the Holocaust had never heard of survivor guilt. I realise that my knowledge of the subject resulted in me immediately understanding what had happened but the protagonist’s total lack of comprehension just seemed like a false extension of the suspense as was later employed more obviously with the baby’s name.
The final third dragged so with the constant repetitions and her musings about the baby. It seemed to be unnecessary filler. I really began to dislike Julia and I had the urge to skip that part altogether.
Worst of all as the love interest developed I began to feel slightly queasy as it seemed more and more as if the horrifying history of the Paris round-up and Sarah’s fate was a merely a background Mcguffin for a rather badly written romance.
Normally I would just say this book was mediocre both in the plot and the writing but considering the weight of the subject it was dealing with I found it appallingly awful.
Its only appeal is that it brings the fact of the Paris round-up to a wider audience.