This book is set in two times, 1942 and today. The author states that she did not set out to write historical fiction. All the characters and specific stories are fictional but the main scenario in July 1942 in Paris really did happen.
In 1942 our fictional family are Jews living in Paris. The parents have immigrated from Poland and the two children were born in France. The French police go door to door and round up all the Jews still left living in Paris and take them to the Velodrome d'Hiver (an indoor cycling arena). There, with 4,000 some odd other Jews they are held for several days with no food or water and unsanitary conditions. From there they are bussed to the train station and taken to camps. From these camps, they are taken to Auschwitz. None of the children and few adults ever return.
The modern story is told from the voice of an American woman living in France and married to a French architect. He is preparing to renovate the family apartment and then they will move in and live there with their daughter. The American is a journalist working for an English-speaking magazine in Paris. She is given the assignment of writing a story about the 60th anniversary of the Vel d'Hiv as it has become known. She has no idea what the Vel d'Hiv is about and her research shocks her and takes her back to 1942 in a way she never imagined.
The families become connected and as best as can be, the present comes to terms with the past and people begin to heal and move on but never forget.
This book was very engaging. So much so that I read it in 5 hours staying up way too late to finish the book. I highly recommend the book although keep in mind there are some saddening and horrifying details of the treatment of the Jews in 1942.