Book Review: Margot

September 5, 2013 Anne Frank, book review, historical fiction, Holocaust survivors, Jillian Cantor, Post WWII 5

Written by:  Jillian Cantor

Published by: Riverhead an imprint of Penguin September 3, 2013

Length:  352 pages

Source: E galley from Edelweiss via Riverhead

Imagine that Anne Frank’s sister had somehow escaped the concentration camp.  Imagine she somehow makes it to American, and she is now living as Margie Franklin, a non Jew.  She’s hiding still…searching for who she really is.

Jillian Cantor imagined all this and much more as she wrote this intriguing what if story about Margot Frank, the older, lesser known sister to the very well known Anne Frank.  The year is 1959 and Margie Franklin is living in Philadelphia PA.  Margie is working as a typist/secretary in a Jewish law firm. She is hiding her past and her religion, and the number that is tattooed on her arm.  No matter the weather, she is always wearing a sweater.  Margie is balancing her single image, occasionally going out with her office mate, but typically hard working and dreaming of the young man she once made long term plans with…plans for what they would do when they were no longer in hiding.

Margie is torn between what she knows, and what others perceive.  The movie version of her sister’s diary has just been released, to much acclaim.  She knows the reality, the movie is not as she remembers it.  As Margie begins to have feelings for the Jewish lawyer she works for, she is  again torn.  Helping him with a special project brings to the surface feelings she has worked hard to bury.  Margie/Margot continues to evolve and much decide who she can trust and if she can truly be herself.

This book captured me from the very beginning.  Taking the historical facts that we do know of Margot Frank and using her gift for creating the fictional story of her escape and remaking her life in America, Jillian Cantor is genius.  While I was concerned if the leap from concentration camp to living in Philadelphia was going to seem plausible, Cantor details Margot’s long journey very well.  Carefully weaving the story of her hidden identity and her attempts to fit in I was sad in realizing how Margot was still in many ways not who she wanted to be. 

I’ve given this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.  I highly recommend it.  I look forward to reading Jillian’s back list and much more from this talented author. 

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