Friday, May 07, 2010

Sarah's Key ~ Food For Thought

I'm joining

Food for Thought

the brainchild of the very talented Jain from

Once in a Blue Moon

and editor of

Food With Style.

The book, Sarah's Key, is based on the historical facts surrounding the roundup of thousands of Jewish-French citizens in Paris, which took place under the auspices of the French police during World War II.

It was the local French police, not the Nazis, who dragged French Jews from their homes, separated parents from children & sent them on to their deaths, all of which was witnessed by French citizens who did little to stop these horrific events.

To be fair, there were a few Parisians
who tried to help the starving children
as they were taken to the trains.

One woman did attempt to hand Sarah
some bread as they marched past.

I rode my bike for some much needed exercise &
to buy some fresh flowers & French bread.

(still waiting for the danger of frost to pass before I finish planting)

The bright pretty colors of the flowers &
the carefree look to this scene,
although very reminiscent
of France,
conflict with the somber feel of this book.

It should look more like this...

Scenes of a happier time gone by.

I found this book to be chilling & haunting &
the only reason I did not give it 5 stars was due
to the somewhat random wandering of the last few chapters.
It seemed like a very anti-climactic ending &
it was as if the author didn't want it to end.

Truthfully, neither did I.

The book starts out in Paris in July of 1942. Sarah is a ten year-old Jewish girl who is arrested along with her family in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard, intending to be back within a few hours to rescue him.
Thus the "key" in the title.

The chapters in this book alternate between the
unbelievably heart wrenching happenings in Paris of 1942 & those of Paris in 2002, during the 60th anniversary of that Jewish round up by the French police at the behest of the Nazis.

The second character in the book, Julia Jarmond is an American journalist, married to a smug, arrogant Frenchman (can you tell I didn't like him?) & living in Paris in 2002. Her boss asks her to write an article about this ugly day in France's past. Through her research, she stumbles onto a trail of hidden family secrets that connect her to this little Jewish girl, Sarah. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own life & marriage.

The author, Tatiana de Rosnay, who actually does live
in Paris, creates a vivid portrait of France under occupation & brilliantly reveals the taboo of silence that surrounds this painful episode of history.
I felt her characters were realistically portrayed,
Sarah more so than Julia, though.
Your heart just aches for Sarah throughout the book.

I made a knock off version of Panera Bread's Broccoli Cheese soup &
served it with toasted, buttered French bread.

The recipe link came from Foley's blog.
She mentioned it in a comment on my post
about Asiago cheese bread.
Panera Bread Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups chicken stock or bouillon
1/2 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup carrots, julienned
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar (no substitutes)
dash of hot sauce (optional)
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (optional)


Saute onion in butter. Set aside. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half. Add the chicken stock whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Pour in batches into blender and puree or use a hand held blender. Return to pot over low heat and add the grated cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in the nutmeg and serve.

Serves 4

Thank you for telling me about it, Ms. Foley...
It was Wonderful!
If you try the recipe, be sure to use sharp cheese &
add the suggested Dijon mustard & dash of hot sauce.

I could not get this book out of my mind.
I woke up several nights in a row,
thinking about how I would write this review.

I wonder if that is how a writer feels when they are working on a book...
chewing on it, mentally, day & night &
feeling compelled to get it down onto paper.
I'll have to ask Michael Lee on her blog
Designs by Gollum
since she is a well published author.
I'm linking this recipe to her

as well as the

It is Lori's turn to host at her blog All that Splatters.

Most of us read not only for entertainment but
for education & awareness as well.
This book fulfilled all those requirements.
It stays with you in your mind & in your heart.
That, to me, is the sign of a good book!
I highly recommend this one.

Thank you, Jain, for hosting the Food For Thought bi-monthly meme.
It challenges me, stretches my mind & opens my eyes to new ways of looking
at things as well as
provides new recipes & cooking ideas.

Thanks also to Lori & Ann for Sat. Blog Showcase
& Michael Lee for Foodie Friday providing such access
to some wonderfully inspiring recipes, too!

Thank you, also, to everyone who visits the Gazebo House.
I am always honored & touched by the comments that you leave.




  1. Very good review! I love your bike with the basket!

  2. goosebumps... seeing the bread gave me the chills. this book just haunts me, you want to share it, but in a somber respectful way and your black and white pic is spectacular.

    your soup looks fantastic, i almost went that way to, but there was a line when he hung his head and stared at the pasta, but then i ran out of time to even make that...

    i LOVE how you discuss mulling over how we are going to create our reviews, thats just how i feel! i love the extended enjoyment we get with the books interacting like this... i mean really, look at your parisian bike pic, how many people read a book and then get to go imitate art? and then EAT IT!

    i loved her book, i gave it 5 stars, it sticks with me, it truly affected me... i enjoyed how she captured the french american thing too. she is frances #8 most popular author, i wish they would translate all her prior books to english for us, i think she is an extremely talented artist, and i think you are an EXCELLENT reviewer. you did a wonderful job sharing, i always want to hold back, less is best, but in reality the more we know the more you want to read it...

    thank you so much for participating every time, i love love love seeing what we all do, especially when we have read the same book, and even better when its darn good one! fabulous review, would be fun if tatiana found us, i love when the authors contact us!

    thanks again, super review!

  3. Truly an interesting post. Stories from WWII make my heart ache. My late father was a military historian with two books and many articles in WWII history magazines... and he a veteran. I am always moved by oral recounts of these stories. I am unable to read them since I do know people who were in those situations... someday.
    The soup and bread look wonderful. Definitly comfort food!!
    Bravo to you on a job well done.
    Ladybug Creek

  4. I loved that book, "Sarah's Key". It was one of the best reads I have had in a while and I read a alot. Thanks for your post. It was great to kind of re-live reading the book.

  5. Rett, you did a remarkable job with this review. This book is one I want to read, but just haven't gotten a copy yet. I know it will be full of emotion for me, but we all need to read this type of book at times to keep us grounded with the reality of the world.
    Your photo of the bike is like a painting. I got chills when I saw the photo and then the black and white version. You are very talented. It's like painting a picture. Kudos to you, my friend!

  6. Wow, Rett! That sounds like a very moving book, and you did such a great job reviewing and portraying it.

    I just bought a book about Churchill and the Jews. I remember reading once that he was the lone voice crying in the wilderness when many other leaders wanted to bury their heads in the sand due to the fact that they couldn't even bear to think of another world war and Germany attempting something like that. Hence, when I saw this book, I bought it. Haven't started it yet, but I will let you know about it.

    I did a lot of research on the camps in college under one of my professors whose expertise was in the field of social psychology. It changed my life studying about them and also reading other books about Corrie Ten Boom and Anne Frank. Your book sounds very moving, too.

    On a brighter note, sending you hugs for a Happy Mother's Day...


    Sheila :-)

  7. Great review, Rett. Thanks. Love their broccoli soup so must try that.

  8. Thanks for the comments on my tablesetting but I am loving your post! I don't know if I want to read this book or not, might be a bit hard to digest. But the soup recipe, I so want to digest! Thanks for sharing that! Beautiful photos! Love your front porch!

  9. What a gorgeous, gorgeous post!! I want to read the book, I want to make the soup... such elegant photos. What a treat to come to your blog!

  10. I enjoyed your post about Sarah's Key. My book club is reading it this month. I am looking forward to our discusson. I agree with you though, the ending wasn't the best. Love your photos!

  11. Oh my God...this is the best type of book review ever. The colors & then the black & white photo set the mood beautifully. I so want to get this book now. Wonderfully portrayed, thks


  12. What a wonderfully written post, and your photos are just amazing. The food looks scrumptious- love it! Thank you for sharing.

  13. book: it sounds good (very sad, but good).

    bike: adore. it. in. sepia!

    soup: i'm tempted to lick my computer screen it looks so yummy. sharp cheedar is all i buy anyway. yay!

  14. Excellent review~ I love your bike with the bread and flowers in the basket & then the sepia version of it for contrast... I'm afraid this subject matter is something that I would shy away from, even if this is a great book. Thanks for sharing it. Your soup looks tasty :-)

  15. Enjoyed your comments. I just can't imagine what people went through during that period in history. I need to get this one.
    I've read several books lately that were really good until the last 2 chapters, and then it was like "let's hurry up and get through!" Very disappointing.
    The soup looks soooo good. We went from it being 90 here yesterday to the 60's this morning. I was shivering on the patio.

  16. I swear, one of these days, I WILL be showing up at your door unannounced. The soup looks soooooo good, I just had to copy the recipe (again). And your review of the book was marvelous, although sad. I haven't read it. Now, probably I won't......I need upbeat! Again, you have done a fantastic post.....I'm so envious!

  17. Your review of the book was fantastic - makes me definitely want to read it. Your photos were perfect!!
    So glad you enjoyed the soup! It's still so chilly here that I may decide to make it again - never tire of it!

  18. I've picked that book up a number of times and read the description and then put it back as something I'd need to read if I was in a really 'up' mood, since it looked pretty sad. Now I think I'll go and get it - thanks for the recommendation,

  19. Love the photo of the bike, flowers, and bread. Amazing what taking it to black and white can do for the mood.

    When a book wakes you up in the middle of the night it is worth reading. Thanks for the review.

    Now if that soup was just made I could have lunch. Stella

  20. Haven't read it..sounds good..just finished one about Nantucket..real fluff!
    Your bike and flowers and bread and soup look wonderful!
    Happy Mother's Day, Rett!
    I have an embroidery machine ques for you..I'll email it!

  21. This will be a must read this summer. Great review and I loved the photographs! I could sit down for a bowl of the soup and the bread, right now! Makes me hungry...

  22. was just enjoying your review again and admiring your reading lists, we have so many books in common. what did you think of cutting for stone, i have that on kindle, eager to hear your opinion on it.

  23. Sounds like a really interesting book, Rett. I love the picture of your bike in front with all the beautiful colors.

    I have visited the first German concentration camp in Dachau several times and it is an extremely moving experience. I may have to check out this book. I am already intrigued by your dislike for the character's husband!
    Great review!

  24. I have just looked at your blog, specifically because you wrote a very lovely comment on mine last week. You are creative, and you have a whimsical side to you, which comes through in your work. I especially enjoyed the Cinco de Mayo party with the men in their mustaches. We have small group parties (folks from our church) about every six weeks, and I am always thinking about themes. The Pink Panther is on tap for the summer, but I am not sure anything can top those handsome men in your pictures!! Blessings, and, again, thank you for writing!

  25. It is an excellent recipe! I have been making that recipe for the last couple of years!

  26. Rett, Based on your review, I plan on reading this book! Your soup recipe looks good- I'm always replicating restaurant recipes.
    I wish you could be able to join us for our Ohio Bloggers get-together. I saw that your comment on Jo's blog that you are too far from Tipp City to make it.
    There are girls from Cincy, Columbus, Mansfield, and Lancaster who are interested in coming. Please e-mail me and let me know what you think might be more convenient. Hope to hear from you. ~ Sue

  27. What a fantastic review of this intriguing book. I will most certainly be putting it on my list to read very soon.
    Your photos are beautiful. Almost as haunting as the book sounds like it was. great job


  28. Great book review, Rett! Love your pics! I wish I could ride my bike to the store...but here in GA, you'd get run over by a car since there are no sidewalks in some places and we have horrible hills. So, I'd be a disgusting sweaty mess by the time I got there. :-) I dream of living where I could do that one day. Is it fairly flat where you live with sidewalks?

    I did not know that about the French police. It's like people lost their minds during that time. I can't fathom how or why those things happened...make me literally sick to my stomach. I can't read books like I'm glad you gave such a good review. It would have kept me awake at night for weeks!

  29. I enjoyed your post. Went to Eastern Europe and toured the camps. Very emotional. ALL children in Poland are required to visit a camp before graduation so that they never forget this and make sure others never repeat this.


Thank you so much for leaving a comment. I read them all & each one is so very special to me & I try really hard to return the visit!