By: Jillian Cantor
Publisher: Riverhead Trade
Publication Date: September 2013
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: September 4, 2013
Jillian Cantor’s latest novel, Margot, is a gripping and compelling story of Holocaust survivor, Margot Frank. Margot is not only a survivor; she is Anne Frank’s older sister.
“The third day of April 1959 seems, at first, just like any other Friday of my American life…” She is known to no one as “Margo.” Rather, the essence of reinventing oneself is to change one’s name. But “Margo” does not stop with her name. She is also no longer Jewish. Margie Franklin works for Joshua Rosenstein as a secretary in the law offices of Rosenstein, Greenberg and Moscowitz. The fact she is alive is the very essence and further affirmation toward her mission of never allowing the truth to surface and find Payter. It was what they promised each other: “…I will no longer be a Jew, he’d whispered to me as we were lying on the divan in his room, more than once. I will leave everything behind. Hiding who you are, it’ll be so much easier than hiding where you are. He would be Peter Pelt, and I would be Margie Franklin. We would come to Philadelphia, and we would be Gentiles together, safe together…”
After the war, Margie leaves Europe and seeks a place halfway across the world to her new life; Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love. Sponsored by Ilsa and Bertram, cousins to Eduard, Margie’s mother’s friend, Margie is welcomed as the daughter they never had. They willingly nurture her with her adaptation into her new American life. It is when the movie The Diary of Anne Frank is released that Margie’s well-kept secrets begin to unravel. She is consumed by survivor’s guilt and the struggle to understand why she is alive. She is tormented with the thought that her father, Otto ‘Pim’ Frank, found her diary in the Annex when he found Anne’s. Did his plans include telling Margie’s story next?
Margie finds solace in her office mate and friend, Shelby. She is everything Margie is not—outgoing, carefree and happy to live in the spontaneity of life. Unfortunately, when Holocaust survivor, Bryda Korzynski, meets with Joshua Rosenstein, Margie soon learns Bryda’s case entails righting anti-Semitic assaults Bryda and her co-workers have endured. Margie’s hidden truths begin rising uncomfortably close to her once secure and very protected surface.
Jillian Cantor has taken a compelling topic and has woven a beautiful story. She portrays the horrific and emotional torment a human being endures when they are faced daily with the reality they have survived an epic tragedy in the history of mankind. “Margie Franklin” is the modern day reminder of the real young girl we are all familiar with—a child who endured the perils of the very essence of the definition of Axis of Evil we know as the Holocaust. Cantor does not spin a tale of maudlin woe. Rather, she paints reality through her word placement and subliminally reminds the reader that this is an event we must never forget and most certainly, mankind will (hopefully) never repeat. Her precision writing has enviable merit. There is never a moment when her words must “coax” the reader to turn the page. To the contrary, her word placement entices the reader to consume the next page and the page after that. This is a beautiful story and it compels me to pick up The Diary of Anne Frank and read it again. Bravo Ms. Cantor! You have gained a new fan of your writing!
Quill says: This book is as much a story about the deeply-rooted scars a survivor must bear as it is about healing and the hope truth provides once it is set free.