By Samantha Samel
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Anne Frank has long been a historical icon, recognized for her unparalleled courage during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. While most identify her as a symbol of hope, few recognize Anne Frank as a sister. A poignant reimagining of the past, “Margot” (Riverhead Trade Paperback Original), a new novel by Jillian Cantor, spotlights Margot Frank, Anne’s older sister, illustrating a compelling portrait of what might have transpired had Margot survived. Cantor will appear in Brooklyn on Sept. 9 for a reading and book signing at BookCourt in Cobble Hill.
Narrated in the present tense and first person, Cantor brings Margot to life with a beautifully raw sense of immediacy. The novel opens in the spring of 1959, when Margot Frank is living in Philadelphia and working as a secretary in a law office.
Though reported to have died, Margot survived the war, escaped the Nazis, and began a new life as Margie Franklin in America. While on the surface she lives a steady, simple life, Margie is concealing intimate secrets.
In the very first chapter, Margie is confronted with her sister’s haunting legacy. Shelby, another legal secretary in the office who is unaware of Margie’s true identity, wants to see “The Diary of Anne Frank,” which was released in theaters that spring. “I’ve read the book and seen the play. The movie will complete the trifecta, and I don’t want to see it alone,” Shelby urges Margie. “’The Diary of Anne Frank’ is much too sad for that.”
After moments of staring, Margie manages to whisper, “I can’t believe they’ve made a movie.” She goes on to experience a physical panic; she breaks into a sweat, her hands shake and she runs home.
As the novel continues, Anne Frank becomes an increasingly famous symbol of hope and bravery. The more public her image becomes, the more Margie’s new life seems to unravel. As her past and present lives begin to collide, Margie must learn to reconcile the two and embrace her complicated past while striving to move forward.
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The September 9 event will begin at 7 p.m. BookCourt is located at 163 Court St. in Cobble Hill
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. She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.