Book Club Q & A with Tatiana de Rosnay, author of Sarah’s Key

tatiana-de-rosnayIn preparation for our book club meeting, we asked Tatiana de Rosnay, author of Sarah’s Key, reviewed here, if she would answer a few questions for us, and she graciously agreed.  But beware- there are a few spoilers!


Lisa’s questions:
How did you originally find out about the Vel d Hiv roundup?  Did you know right away that you wanted to write a book about it?
  
Tatiana de Rosnay:  I found out through Chirac’s speech, the one I mention in the book. I knew very little about the round up. I was born in France in the 60’s and like many French people of my generation, we were not taught about this in school. However now, students are taught about it.
 
I remember Julia’s shock at being a 45 year old woman living in Paris who knew nothing of the events.  Are Parisians as unaware of the involvement of the French during WWII as they seem to be in SK?  Has your book changed that?
 
Tatiana de Rosnay:  Some Parisians are aware and other are not. I’m surprised at the amount of  emails I get from Parisians who are shocked at what they have learned through my book and others who say they knew, but not to that extent. I think and hope my book may have changed things as I now have a million readers world wide !
 
What has been the reaction to your book in France?

Tatiana de Rosnay:  It has been very good. Especially from the Jewish community, which warms my heart. Another surprise is how much teens enjoy it.
 
The details of the separation of the children from their mothers was horrific- the beatings and the water being thrown on them.  Being a mother myself, that was hard to read, and I cried for those mothers and their children.  Did you interview survivors of Vel d Hiv while researching your book, or were those details something you’d read about in your research?
 
Tatiana de Rosnay:  I met two survivors during my research, and three after the book was published. Wonderful moments that I shall never forget. They told me that they went through exactly what I describe in the book.
 
Do you have any idea how many children were able to escape the camps in the French countryside?  Is there evidence that some had help from sympathetic members of the French police, the way Sarah and Rachel did?
 
Tatiana de Rosnay:  No, I do not have a precise idea. However, France is the country where the largest number of Jewish children were saved and hidden by French people, like Sarah and Rachel were. These people then became «Justs of the Nation».
 
Why did Sarah’s part of the narrative stop after the discovery of Michel?   I missed her!
 
Tatiana de Rosnay:  That’s how I «felt» the story.  Julia’s quest to find her (or William) then becomes even stronger.
 
When will your new book be available?  What are you currently working on?
 
Tatiana de Rosnay:  I am about to publish Boomerang, my first love story ! It is out in France in a couple of weeks, and next year in the US. I am now researching a new book which takes place in 19th century Paris.
 
Valerie’s questions:
The whole issue with the late age pregnancy and Julia”s reaction suprised me. One, that she would have even considered the abortion at all…why?
 
Tatiana de Rosnay:  I have not gone through this, thankfully, but my closest friend has. Her husband refused to have the child. She chose the husband over the child. She still regrets it, ten years later…
 
 and then naming the girl Sarah? An attempt to give something back for such a great wrong being done or another reason?
 
Tatiana de Rosnay:  Because Sarah is dead and gone, bringing into the world another little Sarah is like lighting a candle for all the Vel d’Hiv children.
 
I felt like the ending alluded to a possible romantic relationship between Julia and Sarah’s adult son. Wishful thinking on my part or ??
 
Tatiana de Rosnay:  I did not want a  soppy Hollywood ending, and I guess each reader can make up her own mind ! ( I personally think they get together, but I’m not totally sure !)
 
Was there one particular story, memory or incident about the Vel’ de hiv and its aftermath at the camps that most profoundly influenced and/or effected you and subsequently the story line of the book? Thanks! 
 
Tatiana de Rosnay:  I had all the book planned out in my head before I even wrote it. I wanted to share the horror and disgust I felt when I found out about what happened. The  worst part for me is how the children were separated from the parents at  Beaune. It makes me physically ill.
 
Sheri’s questions:
How has the success of this book affected your life?  What has been the most positive impact of its reception and the most difficult?

Tatiana de Rosnay:  This book has changed my life. I had never written a best-seller before and I have published 8 books. I’m still trying to get used to the attention. I guess the most difficult part is finding time to answer all my readers !
 
Karen’s question:
Since France has so much anti Semitism, have there been any problems with Sarah’s Key being sold in bookstores, since many citizens are wanting to ban the Holocaust teachings in the French public schools and universities?
 
Tatiana de Rosnay:  I don’t think France’s anti-Semitism is to that extent ! I visit a school per week meeting students and teachers to talk about Sarah and the Vel d’Hiv. All bookstores here carry my book.
  
From Orchid:  
I‘ve visited France twice, and I thought based on stereotypes that the French might be rude, but I found them to be very helpful and kind to me, a tourist who didn’t know the language that well.  So my question is.. the French family in the book is portrayed as very private and somewhat arrogant.. did you embellish on stereotypes or did you find that to be actually true in your experience or research?
 
Tatiana de Rosnay:  The French family I describe is a typically high class, wealthy Parisian family, certainly not representative of all French citizens ! So are the Parisians that Julia pokes fun of! I am French myself, born in the Paris suburbs, and I think I know my country men well… 🙂

Many thanks to Tatiana de Rosnay for her openness and willingness to answer our questions, and for writing this incredible book!

One Last 100K Celebration Giveaway: Things I Want My Daughters To Know by Elizabeth Noble

9780061122194Happy Valentine’s Day!  I hope you are canoodling with your honey and staying warm!

For this final 100K Celebration Giveaway, Danny from HarperCollins looked over my blog and thought my readers would be interested in the book Things I Want My Daughters To Know by bestselling author Elizabeth Noble!  It seems appropriate since I talk about my preteen girls so much.  

There will be a Book Club Girl On Air show occurring online on Tuesday, February 17th, at 7 pm with Elizabeth Noble on www.authorsonair.com.  It’s an interview with the author where book club members can call in or write in with questions about the book.  Pretty cool!

6a00d8341c9ac653ef010536f1eeee970b-120wiHere’s a little information about the book:

How do you cope in a world without your mother?

When Barbara realizes time is running out, she writes letters to her four daughters, aware that they’ll be facing the trials and triumphs of life without her at their side. But how can she leave them when they still have so much growing up to do?

Take Lisa, in her midthirties but incapable of making a commitment; or Jennifer, trapped in a stale marriage and buttoned up so tight she could burst. Twentysomething Amanda, the traveler, has always distanced herself from the rest of the family; and then there’s Hannah, a teenage girl on the verge of womanhood about to be parted from the mother she adores. 

But by drawing on the wisdom in Barbara’s letters, the girls might just find a way to cope with their loss. And in coming to terms with their bereavement, can they also set themselves free to enjoy their lives with all the passion and love each deserves?

This heartfelt novel by bestselling author Elizabeth Noble celebrates family, friends . . . and the glorious, endless possibilities of life.

My Daughters, My Loves

My Daughters, My Loves

Sound good?  For a chance to win a copy of Things I Want My Daughters to Know, leave a comment by Saturday, February 21st, telling me something that YOU’D like your daughter (or future daughter, or niece, or random young girl) to know.

As for me, there are a million things I want my girls to know, not the least of which is how to behave themselves!  But also how much I love them and how much being their mom has changed me forever.  Happy Valentines Day to you and yours!

Interview and Giveaway: DeLaune Michel, author of The Safety of Secrets

Before we begin with the interview, here is a bit about the book The Safety of Secrets from the author’s website: 

“Now we’re just alike.” So begins Fiona and Patricia’s friendship that warm Autumn morning in first grade in Lake Charles, Louisiana, a friendship made as close as sisters by Fiona’s abusive mother and Patricia’s neglectful one, and by the fantasies that the two girls share.

Fiona and Patricia’s relationship is a source of continuity and strength through their move to LA to become actresses; through Fiona’s marriage and not-yet-famous career; and through Patricia’s ups-and-downs with men and rise to fame. Then when their husbands’ needs and the pressures of Hollywood begin to exact a toll, the women are forced to wonder if their friendship can survive. But the true test of their devotion is just beginning. When a dark secret from their past begins to emerge, it threatens to destroy not only the bond the women have shared, but all they’ve worked for as well. 

What happens when your most treasured friendship suddenly seems broken beyond repair? Humorous and poignant, The Safety of Secrets is a beautifully written exploration of the bonds forged in childhood and challenged decades later, of the fulfillment of dreams and the damage they sometimes cause, and of secrets being uncovered and the truth that we find inside.  

BOTB:  Welcome DeLaune Michel, author of The Safety of Secrets!

First off, I’d like to know how your name is pronounced!  I’ve never seen the name “DeLauné” before.  Is it a family name?  Is it French? 

DM:  That’s sweet of you to ask! It’s pronounced duh-LAWN-ay, and it is French. Some people say it with more of a French accent, but I don’t really care, as long as they don’t call me de-lawn-ee – or late to dinner. Sorry, I can never resist a stupid joke! I was named for Helene DeLauné, the first woman over from France on my momma’s side of the family.  Helene DeLauné was in the court of Marie Antoinette. Her husband, Jules André, fought in the French Revolution. Antoinette gave Helene DeLauné jewels to help her and her husband escape to South Louisiana. Ever since I was young and heard that story about my namesake, I have thought of her whenever things were difficult because no matter what I am going through, I can’t imagine it being a harder than leaving the court of France, and ending up in the wilds of South Louisiana. So in a funny way, I have always felt very connected to her.

BOTB:  Your book, “The Safety of Secrets” centers on a female friendship.  Do you have a lifelong friendship like Fiona and Patricia’s?

DM:  I feel very blessed that I have a number of lifelong friendships, some from early childhood, and some from high school, though none of those were an exact model for Fiona and Patricia’s friendship in this book.

BOTB:  Do you think friendships are more important to women than to men, and if so, in what way?

DM:  I don’t think that they are more important to women than to men, but I think they get expressed differently. There was a study from UCLA that showed that contrary to long-held beliefs, not everyone has the fight or flight reflex when faced with stress or danger. Only men do. Women don’t respond by fight or flight. Women turn to their community, to their friends. We process, and get feedback, and find strength by turning to a friend. Not to say that men don’t, but it isn’t their first impulse when faced with those situations. I think that is how they are different. And that is one area that I wanted to look at in this book. Fiona’s connection with Patricia is so strong that Fiona feels she has to juggle her loyalty between Patricia and her husband. A lot of readers have told me that they really related to that. I don’t think that is something men go through the way we do. 

BOTB:  Do you think women feel more secure, or safe, in telling their secrets to other women?

DM:  It depends. There are secrets I’ve told to men that I know will never be revealed. But I think that a close friendship between women is marked – at least the ones I have – by an ability to tell each other pretty much everything, so in that sense, revealing a secret to another woman is easy because it is so natural. Definitely in this book, Fiona feels more safe keeping secrets – particularly the big one – with Patricia than with her husband, and the effects of that is something she has to deal with.

BOTB:  How much do you think childhood friendships shape our lives as adults? 

DM:  Very much, particularly ones that are like siblings, as Fiona and Patricia’s is in this book. And I think sometimes we find a friend to be a kind of family member that we didn’t get to have, or for us to be the person that we can’t be with our own family. 

BOTB:  The book is mostly based in Los Angeles and the main characters work in the film industry.  You seem to know LA and the business of Hollywood quite well- the realistic side of it rather than the glamorous.  Do you live there?  Were you/are you in the industry?

DM:  I live just above New York City, right near the Hudson River. But I lived in LA for many years, and while I was there, acted in television and film, so, yes, that world is one I know quite intimately. And I loved writing about it. It was wonderful to be able to take a trip there every day in my mind, and then return home easily. I wanted to show a side of that industry that isn’t written about very much. Most books that are set in Hollywood only show the upper echelon, and while Patricia is hugely successful, Fiona works steadily but hasn’t achieved that level of fame or fortune yet, if she ever will. I thought it would be interesting to show what that kind of career is really like, since that is the kind of life most working actors in LA have. And besides, some aspects of that life are so ridiculous; it was fun to be able to write about it, having lived through it myself.

BOTB:  What would you like readers to take away from The Safety of Secrets?

DM:  I hope that it will enable them to look at their own friendships, and the issues of loyalty and betrayal that are at play in them, even on the smallest scale. Eudora Welty said that the novel is the most intimate art form because it is the writer’s words in the reader’s mind with the reader’s life, and imagination, and beliefs creating the story. I love that. I also think that that old saying that if a tree falls in the wood and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound applies, too. I think novels don’t really exist until someone reads it and brings it to life, so I hope that the life that the reader creates with me is one that has resonance for them, and enables them to see their world from a new angle. I do a lot of book clubs in-person and via speaker phone chats (I can be contacted at delaune@delaunemichel.com), and I love getting to hear how women view Fiona and Patricia’s friendship and how it relates to their lives. 

BOTB:  What are you currently working on? 

DM:  My third novel. I wrote my first two novels while I was pregnant with my two sons, so this will be the first novel that I write without being pregnant. I’m enjoying not being sleepy or nauseous while I work! My husband asked me how I’ll be able to finish the new book without that built-in deadline, but I assured him that I will find a way! 

BOTB:  Thanks so much for your time!  

DM:  Thank you for your very thoughtful questions!

BOTB:  Many thanks to DeLaune Michel and to Jennifer Ballot from Over the River Productions for sending me 2 copies of the book- one for me and one to give away- and for arranging this interview with DeLaune!  If you would like a chance to win a copy of The Safety of Secrets, leave a comment here by Friday, August 8th.  Good luck!

You can read fellow blogger Sheri’s review of The Safety of Secrets at a Novel Menagerie.