The plaque located at the Vel d'Hiv.


Creating a Safe Haven was key for our Novel Gathering 


This book left me feeling uneasy and sad, my choice would to create the setting from the home of Jules and Genevieve Dufaure.  These two welcomed the girls and whispered that they would be safe.  What a great environment for this book club.

Setting the scene

Near the front door have a sack (burlap or otherwise) filled with potatoes.  You may want to put a doll or something in there to represent Sarah hiding in the basement from the Nazi’s.

Make the area where the discussion is to take place very ‘homey’.  If there is a chill in the air, light the fireplace, have kerosene lamps lit or on display.  Sirka goes on to describe the area, “The girl thought she had never seen a lovelier, more peaceful place…The garden and the flowers and the trees and all the animals…”  Have fresh vegetables and fruit in bowls scattered around the room.  Bring in fresh herbs in jars with a touch of fresh flowers too.  In one corner you could have a stool with two fresh towels, sprigs of fresh lavender and a fresh box of soap.  Remember how Genevieve had been so gently on their arrival and gave them a bath? If there is a space for you to create a makeshift bookshelf, be sure Jules Verne and Comtesse de Segur are on it.  Go to your local library and take out other French books.  Place a sign that says, Nicolas Dufaure on the shelf too.  The girls stayed in his old room after all.

Cut out large yellow stars and have small safety pins ready to pin them on a few of your guests.  Ask those guests who wear the star how it feels.  We hope these stars no not change anything. (image taken from



To start, offer your guest a glass of water, a few papery biscuits and some canned fish.  This is what Sirka was given when the family was crammed into the Velodrome.

An idea would be to create the meal Jules and Genevieve created for Sirka and Rachel.  They served a bowl of delicious soup, fresh soft bread, creamy rich Brie cheese, and succulent velvety peaches.

If you want to prepare a more French fare, Bertrand and Julia’s dinner out has some tasty ideas.  Julia ordered the Confit de canard; leg of duck and Bertrand had cassoulet (a casserole dish with beans and meats).  They started with an order of asparagus. 

Remember Zoe in the kitchen cooking with her grandfather?  Edouard was ‘overly fond of cooking’.  He prepared pot-au-feu, onion soup, a savory ratatouille or a truffle omelet.

Other foods you may want to include are pate (served to the Germans by Jules), croissants, crepes, crème brulee, and quiche.  The list is endless really. Browse Julia Child's 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' for more food ideas.

My sister makes delicious Asparagus Wrapped in Bacon Appetizers.  Here is her simple recipe.

Preheat BBQ (or oven if you prefer 375 degrees)

12 Asparagus spears
6 slices bacon
Olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cut about 1/2 inch off the bottom of spear.  Cut bacon in half and wrap around each spear. Brush the bacon and asparagus with the oil and season to taste.  Place on grill for about 10 minutes and turn until other side brown, about 4 minutes.



Chardonnay (which was served at Christophe and Herve's dinner)

French Sidecar                

3/4 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz lemon juice
1 1/2 oz cognac

Shake well with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass that has had its rim rubbed with lemon and dipped in sugar.


If you would like to do invites, perhaps include the above plague.  You could say come and discuss "Operation Spring Breeze".  My feeling is to keep this gathering simple and subdued.


Sarah's Key has a motion picture soundtrack available on iTunes.  





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