Publisher: Riverhead Trade (September 3, 2013)
Anne Frank has long been a symbol of bravery and hope, but there were two sisters hidden in the annex, two young Jewish girls, one a cultural icon made famous by her published diary and the other, nearly forgotten.
In the spring of 1959, The Diary of Anne Frank has just come to the silver screen to great acclaim, and a young woman named Margie Franklin is working in Philadelphia as a secretary at a Jewish law firm. On the surface she lives a quiet life, but Margie has a secret: a life she once lived, a past and a religion she has denied, and a family and a country she left behind.
Margie Franklin is really Margot Frank, older sister of Anne, who did not die in Bergen-Belsen as reported, but who instead escaped the Nazis for America. But now, as her sister becomes a global icon, Margie’s carefully constructed American life begins to fall apart. A new relationship threatens to overtake the young love that sustained her during the war, and her past and present begin to collide. Margie is forced to come to terms with Margot, with the people she loved, and with a life swept up into the course of history.
(Actual Margot Frank)
Here are my thoughts:
In this fictional account Jill Cantor chose to imagine what might have happened if Margot Frank, older sister to Anne Frank might have survived instead of perishing of Typhus in March 1945 in Bergen-Belsen.
My first reaction to Margot was an overwhelming wish the clock could be turned back and this unassuming young lady might have had the opportunity to move to then Palestine Mandate and become a Maternity Nurse!
I can just imagine the feeling the author must have experienced when she first put pen to paper! To be able to rewrite history!
So little is known about Anne Frank's older sister but it is recorded that she was the first of the Franks to receive a letter for relocation thus prompting the whole family to hide in the annex for the next two years before being discovered and their eventual deportation to Auschwitz-Birkeneau.
Prinsengracht 263 would become the background of all of Margot's dreams including perhaps a touch of romance with Peter van Pels.
Philadelphia fifteen years later: Margot/Margie Franklin is now working for a Law office. She is still hoping to reconnect with Peter in the city of 'Brotherly Love' and uses the gentile name both agreed upon so that he might find her as well. She has never entirely assimilated herself in America, she stills observes Shabbath quietly in her little bedsit and never removes her sweater in public so as to keep her tattoo hidden.
She knows her father is alive and well in Switzerland and has now a new family. She questions his reasons for publishing her sister's diary and not hers.
Entirely narrated at the present tense by Margot herself, the intriguing possibility of her survival and subsequent new life lack enough weight to be plausible. You can never truly hide from the past but neither the apparent reason for Margot' survival or even the actual records of anti Semitism in the 1950's USA mentioned in the narrative allows readers to realize the emotional depth of a concentration camp's survivor.
That said, Jill Cantor brings to our imagination countless possibilities and she does it with her whole heart!
If her novel comes out on the light side, perhaps we should credit her with instilling her plot with hope which is after all, life itself! Even Margot herself could not deny this is what she wanted: living!!
Note to Readers: Jill Cantor's wide research is not to be missed and just like her, you might wish to read again 'The Diary of Anne Frank' with adult eyes! I know I will!
About the Author:
Jillian Cantor has a B.A. in English from Penn State University and an M.F.A. from the University of Arizona, where she was also a recipient of the national Jacob K. Javits Fellowship. The author of several books for teens and adults, she grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia.
Visit her website (HERE)
Note to Readers: This was a library loan. A review was not requested and this post reflects ONLY my opinion!