Sarah’s Key: Interview with Author Tatiana De Rosnay

“Sarah’s Key,” starring Kristin Scott Thomas, is relased by the Weinstein Company. 

It’s tricky for a writer to accept a director’s vision of her book, but I had decided to put my trust in Gilles Paquet-Brenner from the start.  When he explained “his” vision of “my” Sarah, it was so thrilling and he was so clearly excited at the prospect.  And then there was Serge Joncour, a loyal friend and talented novelist, and I knew that a new Sarah would be reborn through his vision.

I read the script.  I liked it.  It has to be said that we writers always find a script a bit dry, lacking in descriptions and nuances.  You have to factor in the actors’ performances.  I hadn’t learned to do that, but I saw that Serge and Gilles had respected my book.  They hadn’t radically changed anything.

Then the adventure of the shoot began.  The unforgettable encounter with Mélusine Mayance, who plays Sarah.  I can still see her coming towards me with her yellow star on her chest, her pert little face and big bright eyes.  My Sarah!  An intense and almost unreal moment.  And then later, Kristin Scott Thomas as Julia Jarmond.  I’m an extra in a scene with her – that was another magical memory that will be engraved in my mind forever.  Then the day I saw the movie for the first time, with Serge.  I’m apprehensive, scared I’ll be disappointed.  Scared I won’t recognize “my” Sarah.  The first ten minutes are a blur, I can’t break out of my novel.  I force myself and suddenly I’m immersed in the movie.  I fall in love with the film.  And at the end, watching the final scene, an incredible wave of emotion overwhelms me, and I start crying.  Yes, I cried.

The film is restrained, like the book.  There’s no pathos, no mawkishness.  Kristin Scott Thomas gives a wonderful performance as an American journalist who wants to know the truth at all costs.  Michel Duchaussoy is spot-on and amazingly moving as Edouard Tézac.  Gisèle Casadesus as Mamé enchants me.  Niels Arestrup as Jules Dufaure charms me with his gruff affection.  Aidan Quinn and his intense gaze just overwhelm me.  All the actors have their place in the movie – Frédéric Pierrot, Dominique Frot, Natasha Mashkevich – and in the heart of this novelist because they have become my characters on screen.

Gilles Paquet-Brenner has captured the emotion I wanted to share with my readers when I wrote the book.  The portrait of a woman who opens Pandora’s box.  The heartrending image of a little girl whose life is shattered.  A man who knew nothing of his mother.  The taboo, sixty years on, surrounding one of the darkest moments in our history.  Thank you, Gilles.


About Tatiana


Tatiana de Rosnay is one of the most widely-read French novelists in the United States with sales of over a million copies of ‘Sarah’s Key’.  ‘Sarah’s Key’ was on the New York Times bestseller list for 120 weeks.   It has been published in 38 countries and has sold over 3 million copies worldwide.


Tatiana de Rosnay was born on September 28th, 1961 in the suburbs of Paris. She is of English, French and Russian descent.  Her father is French scientist Joël de Rosnay, her grandfather was painter Gaëtan de Rosnay.  Tatiana’s paternal great-grandmother was Russian actress Natalia Rachewskïa, director of the Leningrad Pushkin Theatre from 1925 to 1949.  Tatiana’s mother is English, Stella Jebb, daughter of diplomat Gladwyn Jebb, and  great-great-granddaughter of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the British engineer. Tatiana is also the niece of historian Hugh Thomas.  Tatiana was raised in Paris and then in Boston, when her father taught at MIT in the 70’s. She moved to England in the early 80’s and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in English literature at the University of East Anglia, in Norwich. Returning to Paris in 1984, Tatiana became press attaché for Christie’s and then Paris Editor for Vanity Fair magazine till 1993. Since 1992, Tatiana has published ten novels in France (published at Fayard, Plon and EHO).  ‘Sarah’s Key’ is her first novel written in her mother tongue, English.

Tatiana published ‘A Secret Kept’ in September 2010 in the USA. Called ‘Boomerang’ in Europe, this book, written in English, is also an international bestseller which has been published in 15 countries and movie rights have been sold.

Tatiana works as a journalist for French ELLE and the Journal du Dimanche.  She is married and has two children. She lives in Paris with her family.