31 October 2013

Review: Margot by Jillian Cantor

Margot by Jillian Cantor

Published: 3 September 2013 by Riverhead

Pages: 352 (paperback)

Genre/s: Historical Fiction

Source: Own library

Synopsis

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.

My Thoughts

From the very moment I first heard about Margo, I wanted it in my hands.  I've said it a hundred times, but Historical Fiction is the genre I grew up reading - I love the insights into life in the past, the characters, the atmosphere - absolutely everything about it.  And although Margot is based on a non-fiction book, the fiction element was strong enough to have me obsessing about reading it.

I admit that I don't remember reading The Diary of a Young Girl although I do own a copy - iconic books are often the ones that I don't choose to read because I'm so fearful of being disappointed, but I don't think it would be considered essential to have read it first - and in some ways I'm glad I haven't.  Although it will be interesting to read it having read this, albeit fictional, book from Margot's perspective.

I had an overwhelming sympathy for Margot right from the beginning - having lost her family and even her own identity, she has ensconced herself in a safe, comfortable life in Philadelphia, and has, for the most part, packed away her past and concentrated on just blending into the background and making it through the next day.  As the story progressed, I really started to admire her as a character too - although cracks start to appear, she continues to hold everything together as best she can.

Cantor's creativity in re-imagining Margot's story was fabulous - it really made me stop and think about how secondary characters in non-fiction and in first person perspectives in fiction are usually very one dimensional because their side of the story isn't told.  I also wondered about Diary of a Young Girl, and how in becoming so famous, that book only tells part of the story of the Frank family as it is from Anne's perspective. 

The plot is not action-packed - when I finished reading and looked back on it, all that really happened was Margot's journey to confront her past and understand how it fit into her present.  But it was a page-turner nonetheless - Cantor sucked me right in to Margot's story and whenever I had to stop reading, I couldn't wait to get back to it.

Margot was incredibly creative, well thought-out and the characterisation was fantastic - I'd recommend this book to anyone.


2 comments:

  1. I've been really curious about this one, but a little skeptical. But your review is definitely making me want to run out and pick it up. I do remember starting The Diary of Anne Frank twice in elementary school, but never got through it. Although now that I'm older I might finally have the patience to get through it.

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    Replies
    1. It's very very good - Cantor's imagination is amazing!

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