It is so sad that it has brought tears to my eyes.
The way Jews were treated and massacred during the World War II is a known fact, and I’ve read quite a few books and novels about it. Yet, every time I read about it, the effect doesn’t decrease. What a horrible time! And those men treating children so hideously!!! How on earth could they do that? And it wasn’t just one or two men, but lots of them. I guess fear of what might happen to them was a logical explanation, but I still couldn’t understand how these men could live with themselves after treating those babies and children like that. It is easy to judge these events from the safety of my position in the twenty-first century, and I know that I’d have to live those times to have a right opinion, but even so, I still think it’s inhuman and beastly.
Sarah is so brave!! She manages to escape the camp, and even though she knows that wondering around the country is not safe, she’s adamant to find out her little brother. Jules and Genevieve are godsend, and their kindness and compassion really moved me. They risk their lives for this little girl. And naturally, in the flat in Paris Sarah finds out her little brother is dead. Oh God! Just thinking what this little boy went through makes me shudder. Poor boy. Alone and scared! And I imagine that this image of her dead little brother will go with Sarah for the rest of her life, and I guess the guilt will also be present in her forever.
It is in 2002 that we learn about Sarah’s little brother being found dead. The apartment Julia is about to move into is where Sarah’s family lived and were rounded up, and where her brother found her death. Julia is intrigued, and her father-in-law tells her the story of the girl who knocked at the door to find her brother dead. He has been haunted by this secret for 60 years, and now Julia and he want to find out what happened to Sarah after that.
Julia is now pregnant after several miscarriages. Her joy is dampened when Bertrand, her husband, tells her he’s too old to be a father again and she should have an abortion. I don’t like Bertrand at all, and the marriage of him and Julia sounds so cold and uncommitted. The man is always making snide remarks about his wife, is unconcerned about her feelings, and on top of it all, he had an affair a few years ago. Julia says Bernard is very attractive, sexy, and charming, but that sounds so shallow. Is that the only thing she can tell about her husband? Is that what joins them together? Physical attraction? Julia is torn because she wants the baby and doesn’t want an abortion, and I think she would be a fool if she let her husband make this decision for her.
What I don’t like about Julia either is the way she believes stereotypes about the French and makes general statements about them. I’ve always had a thing about stereotypes. I think that in general belonging to a certain nationality might make you more likely to have some characteristics, but I hate it when a stereotype is applied to an entire nation or an entire social group. I believe in individuals, and I don’t think just because you’re Spanish, you have to be loud; or because you are English, you have to be punctual. Living abroad has knocked down many of the ideas that had been put in my mind, and I think we should judge people as individuals, and not because they belong to a certain group.