Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Margot, by Jillian Cantor

What if history got one tiny detail wrong, and Margot, the less famous older sister of Anne Frank, actually survived the Holocaust?  Perhaps she moved to America, and started a new life.  In this fictional revisionist history, Margot has become Margie Franklin, and she lives in Philadelphia in 1959.  She lives the life of a gentile, and is fiercely protective of her secret.  But as the whole country is talking about Anne Frank, Margie is forced to face her past.

This book was so incredible, I read it straight through in one sitting.  First off, the premise of the story is fascinating.  Many of us are familiar with The Diary of Anne Frank, and I would guess that most of us have given little thought to Margot Frank.  We forget that she had a story, and a diary, and that her voice, along with countless other victims, has been lost over the years.  So the idea that this minor historical figure may have not only survived, but totally changed her identity to hide in plain sight, is pretty fascinating.

Margie, as a character, is incredibly complex, and richly written.  We learn about her experiences through a series of flashbacks interspersed with her present life in America.  Because she had not really dealt with her past, she carries complex emotions regarding her sister.  While she loves Anne, and feels responsible for her death, she also feels forgotten and neglected due to Anne's fame.  Margie also mourns the loss of her father, despite the fact that he is still alive; he would not be happy to learn she survived instead of Anne.

A large portion of the book deals with Margot's secret romance with fellow annex dweller Peter Pels.  Most people think he and Anne had a romance, and once again Margot is a historical footnote.  She struggles with letting go of that romance, and her past bleeds into her present.  It is almost as it Margot has been emotionally stunted by her past.  You really feel for Margot/Margie, and you desperately want for her to be happy.  

This book will certainly appeal to fans of historical fiction, particularly those who are interested in the Holocaust.  It will also appeal to fans of contemporary fiction.  All in all, I thought the book was really exquisite.  

I received a review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine program in exchange for my honest review. 

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