Margot: A Novel

( 30 )

Overview

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: ...

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Margot: A Novel

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
What if Anne Frank’s sister Margot, instead of dying in Auschwitz, had survived and gone into hiding in America? Cantor’s latest (after The Transformation of Things) posits this alternative scenario with a modern eye for symptoms of trauma and survivor’s guilt. Wearing long sleeves even on hot days to cover her camp tattoo, Margot is passing as a gentile in 1950s America under the name “Margie Franklin,” avoiding both her father in Switzerland and her own tragic history. But after The Diary of Anne Frank is published by her dad and the movie version arrives in theaters, Margot’s careful reconstruction of herself begins to fray. Joshua Rosenstein, the lawyer for whom she works as a secretary, asks for her help in finding Jews experiencing discrimination, further inflaming long-repressed memories. A troubled pair of love triangles figures in the book—one from Margot’s teenage years in hiding and another in the law office; the first seems unfair to history and the second is a Holocaust survivor’s version of Cinderella. But with Margot having been denied a happy ending in real life, Cantor is determined for her to find one here. Agent: Jessica Regel, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. (Sept.)
Library Journal
YA author Cantor's second adult novel (after The Transformation of Things), which explores what might have happened if Anne Frank's older sister had survived World War II, exerts its grip on the reader from the start and doesn't let go. In postwar Philadelpha Margot works incognito (as Margie Franklin) in a law firm passing as a Gentile, wearing long-sleeve sweaters in the summer heat to cover her concentration camp tattoo while combing the telephone book for Peter, whose family had been in hiding with Franks in Amsterdam. Peter had promised to meet Margot in the city of brotherly love after the war. Margie's yearning for Peter threatens to produce results just as she's falling in love with her boss, who plans to fight discrimination against Jewish workers in America through group litigation. Readers will keep turning pages to find out whether the story of the "'ghost" of Margot is magical realism or whether Cantor's Margot didn't really die at the age of 19, two days before her sister Anne in 1945, but instead escaped the Nazis to start over in Philadelphia. VERDICT Cantor's deft juxtaposition of the specter of Nazi Germany on the American psyche in the days of Marilyn Monroe reveals itself with unexpected force, although her disregard for Margot's actual history throws into question the novel's dramatization of the Nazi war camps.—J.L. Morin, Boston Univ.
Kirkus Reviews
Children's book author Cantor (The Life of Glass, 2010, etc.) shrinks her high concept--what if Anne Frank's sister Margot didn't die at Auschwitz but moved to Philadelphia under an assumed identity--to fit more predictable parameters of women's fiction. In 1959, when the movie version of her sister's diary hits American theaters, Margot is working as a secretary for a firm of Jewish lawyers in Philadelphia. She is 33 years old pretending to be 27 and has taken the name Margie Franklin. Margot seethes with bitterness and guilt: Anne was always the favored younger sister and now her father has published Anne's not Margot's diary; Margot was the one carrying on a romance with Peter while hiding in the Amsterdam annex up until the moment Anne caught them just before their arrests; but she loved Anne too and feels responsible for her death; she finds Americans, especially American Jews, naïvely innocent. She tells the reader she is no longer Jewish but secretly lights a Sabbath candle every Friday night. She and Peter used to fantasize they'd start a new life together in Philadelphia after the war, and she keeps looking for him, hoping that perhaps he survived, too. Otherwise, she tries to disappear into American life. She wears long-sleeve sweaters even on hot summer days to cover the numbers on her arm. She lives alone with a cat but occasionally socializes with another secretary. Even less often she visits her warmhearted sponsor, who loves Margot like a daughter and suspects her past. Margot finds herself falling in love with her boss, Joshua, whose domineering father, Ezra, is a partner in the firm. Joshua is dating Penny, a stereotypical Jewish American Princess and the daughter of Ezra's partner, but he is clearly attracted to Margot (although Cantor makes it hard to see why anyone would be attracted to her). Then an angry Holocaust survivor asks Joshua to sue her employer for job discrimination, and he enlists Margot's help. Cantor diminishes Margot's spiritual identity crisis by introducing a predictable office romance plot.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594486432
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 9/3/2013
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 95,859
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

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. Visit her online at www.jilliancantor.com.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 30 )
Rating Distribution

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(17)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 30 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 3, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Jillian Cantor¿s latest novel, Margot, is a gripping and compell

    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.




    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.

    12 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2013

    I just finished reading it -- best book of the year!! 

    I just finished reading it -- best book of the year!! 

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 13, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Another in the list of books about WWII and its aftermath, Margo

    Another in the list of books about WWII and its aftermath, Margot by Jillian Cantor puts forth the supposition, what if Anne Frank's older sister had survived the war? The author herself says that she got the idea while reading The Diary of Anne Frank for the second time. She began to wonder, what of the other sister, Margot? Did she keep a diary, too? What was she like? Apparently, after doing some research, she found that not much information exists about Anne's less famous sister. This opened the door for a fictional story about surviving the holocaust with Margot as the central character.




    It is 1959. and the movie The Diary of Anne Frank has just hit the theaters in the US. Margie Franklin is living a quiet life in Philadelphia and working for a law firm. But Margie is really Margot Frank, the older sister of Anne, who was able to survive the holocaust. She eventually makes her way to America where she changes her identity, re-inventing herself as a Gentile. Once her father publishes Anne's Diary and it is made into a movie, her new life starts to unravel, bit by bit.




    Once I picked up Margot, I found it very hard to put down. The story alternated between the story of Margie, the girl hiding in America, and Margot, the girl hiding in the annex in Amsterdam. I was amazed at what a great job the author did presenting the two sides of the main character. I was particularly impressed with the way she was able to craft a believable story of what Margot could have been like while still staying true to the words of Anne's diary. On the other hand, Margie's life in America was all fiction, but incredibly well told and highly believable. I could really put myself in the place of a person in her situation, her survivor's guilt, the elements of PTSD inherent in her situation, the ever prevalent fear that someone would discover the truth about her, and the constant inner struggle to not lose sight of who she was. Through the author's words I was transported into Margie's mind in the best way.




    What really sold this book for me, though, was the fact that it was more than just a "what if" book about Margot Frank. To me, it was really an exploration of the after effects of the holocaust on Jewish Americans. Some, like Margie, immigrated to America and re-invented themselves to create a distance between their new lives and their old ones. Others, like Bryta, came to America looking for a better life, only to find themselves taken advantage of. Then there were the American Jews, like Joshua, who were removed from the worst of the war and lived a relatively unscathed life, which brought on its own brand of survivor's guilt. Through the exploration of all of these characters, the author was able to craft a story that should not be missed.




    This was definitely a 5 star book for me and will be on my highly recommended list for quite a while. I have yet to come across a book that deals with these issues in such a readable and believable fashion. A heartfelt Thank you to Jillian Cantor and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Book for making this book available to me in exchange for a review.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2013

    Heart touching!

    Amazing look into the mind of a holocaust survivor!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2013

    A

    This is well written fiction. It puts a new human face on an outrage of history that we Americans have become a little immune to hearing about. Thank you very much Ms. Cantor for writing it!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2013

    Great read!  I had misgivings as I began reading this book but l

    Great read!  I had misgivings as I began reading this book but loved the author's explanation of her choice of  Margot, Anne Frank's older sister , and the purposes the author feels for writing about Margot.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2013

    Hey ppl!!

    This sounds amazing. Should i read it?

    2 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2013

    Fantastic

    It was beautifully written I couldn't put it down

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 21, 2013

    A pretty good "what if" book.

    This was a story about Margot, the sister of Ann Frank. It puts forth a story about what might have happened IF Margot lived and moved to America. It was a good story - but I had such a sad feeling reading it knowing it was just a fairy tale kind of book. It was well-written, done nicely, but it made me sad and I am kind of sorry I chose this book. Not the fault of the book itself though. Worth reading if WWII isn't a sore spot for you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2013

    ¿The truth is, I have wanted to find you for a long time, but I

    “The truth is, I have wanted to find you for a long time, but I have been afraid. Afraid of what you might think if I told you everything. Afraid of what you’ve become since I’ve seen you last. Afraid, even, of what you might think of what—and who—I’ve become. I am not a girl anymore. Neither am I a Jew. And I have done things that I can’t understand or explain, even to myself.”

    Jillian Cantor’s “Margot” offers a fresh perspective on the Holocaust narrative. At once compelling and heartbreaking, this novel is an exploration of what it is to be a survivor of the twentieth century’s largest genocide. Seamlessly blending this fictional account with the historical record, Cantor creates an achingly raw and utterly believable story that breathes new life into Anne Frank through her sister Margot’s eyes. It is, overall, a novel of what-ifs. What if Margot Frank did not die in the camps along with her sister and mother? What if, in fact, she escaped?

    April, 1959. Margie Franklin, formerly Margot Frank, has risen from the ashes of her previous life and created a new identity for herself in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Working as a legal secretary for a Jewish law firm, she lives a simple and even boring life, from all appearances. But in reality her world flirts with the danger of being discovered for who she truly is. For the past fifteen years, she has done her best to deny her religion and her homeland, claiming to be a Polish Gentile. The Anne Frank portrayed on screen and even in her diary is not the Anne that Margie knew, and Margie can’t help but wonder why her own diary was never published. She also wonders if Peter van Pels could have survived and also moved to Philadelphia, as they planned. However, for the most part she tries to forget the past—until it is brought crashing down upon her when her boss, Joshua Rosenstein, decides to pursue a group litigation against anti-Semitism.

    “Margot” is a haunting and unrelenting psychological profile of survivor’s guilt. It invites readers to ponder what it would be like to live through the hellish concentration camps for being a Jew only to spend years trying to escape one’s identity. For Margot, hiding became second nature after spending two years in the annex, and even in America it is a survival technique. She becomes neither a Jew nor a Gentile, a lonely woman for whom everything serves as a harsh reminder and triggers painful flashbacks as she struggles to maintain pretenses. At the same time, Joshua Rosenstein deals with the guilt of living an easy life as an American and trying to compensate through his profession, introducing the dichotomy that exists between German Jews and American Jews in post-WWII society. Ultimately, though, there is no safe place when the person you’re hiding from is yourself.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 2, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I¿m a survivor yet I am still haunted by my past. Any footstep

    I’m a survivor yet I am still haunted by my past. Any footsteps behind me, I hear boots… loud and heavy, I quicken my pace for I’m sure it’s Nazis, I hear “Walk, Jood,” whether anyone else can hear it or not. Oh, how your memory can haunt you. I’ve changed my name as that was what our plans were when we parted many years ago, Peter and I. And now I wait. I wait in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love for Peter while working at a law firm for Josh. There are Jews all around me but when I came here; I tried to put my past behind me. Working in the law office, the client’s cases got a bit too close for comfort, they brought up past issues and current struggles for me and it was hard to be professional when I was hiding behind a mask. My sister is famous, I’m sure you have heard of her. I don’t know what happened to my diary, but I can only hope someone still has it. Sure, I’ve read my sister’s diary even before it was published in book form. My book copy is worn and shabby from use. The marquee down the road, cries out in red bold lettering, my sister’s book which was just made into a movie. I’m hesitating about going; everyone is talking so much about it. I don’t know if I can sit through it, the poster boards are wrong, the title is the only thing that’s right, The Diary of Anne Frank.
    I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was interesting how Anne Frank had a sister and how she struggled to hide herself even though she was free. Working at a Jewish law firm, she still did not want to be identified and she hid in so many different ways. Her lies, one right another until the truth was buried so far under. Her sister was a powerful figure and here she was hiding out, I thought that was incredible. Working in a law office of all places, where people want justice or where you’re having to defend individuals who are in the wrong, what a struggle she dealt with every day. Her past was still haunting her. The story is not a powerful, dramatic story but one that quietly creeps up on you and leaves you shaking your head and filling your heart. Great passion and grace lifted me. A wonderful story.
    “What would happen to a Jew who pretends not to be a Jew?” “Well, this is America in 1959. Not Germany during the war. The Nazis are gone now.” Are they? Are they ever gone?.......”Miss,” the rabbi calls after me and I stop and turn and look at him again. “God knows,” he says. “You can’t hide from God.”

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2014

    Po Wonderfully written

    A truly great "what if..." story. From the moment I began reading, I could not put this book down.

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  • Posted March 20, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    This story is incredibly moving. I had heard many good things ab

    This story is incredibly moving. I had heard many good things about the book and was anxious to read it. I was not disappointed. Not only was the story compelling but the writing was amazing. I was swept away from the start.




    There is not much information on Margot Frank but the author stayed true to what is available in developing her character. Ms. Cantor took the little that was known and crafted a captivating character. Margie’s fears and insecurities felt very real. I wondered at some points if she was not only hiding her identity from others but also from herself. Her struggle to regain a sense of self, acknowledge her past, and begin to move forward was particularly touching.




    This is a great book and I recommend it highly. It is thought provoking and emotionally charged. It is the first book by this author that I have read. The writing was incredible. I will probably read more of her books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2013

    Loved this

    Great to see tjings from another perspective

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  • Posted October 18, 2013

    Incredibly hard to put down.  I can feel her aloneness seeping o

    Incredibly hard to put down.  I can feel her aloneness seeping off the page and am rooting for her like crazy.  What a wonderful book!!

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  • Posted October 18, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I would highly recommend this book!

    Beautifully written!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2013

    Unique Idea

    A work of fiction with historical references and facts. I found it interesting and easy to read.

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  • Posted October 4, 2013

    Interesting

    If you liked Ann Frank's Diary, you will enjoy this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2013

    GREAT!!!!!

    GREAT "WHAT IF?" BOOK> HAVE TO KEEP TELLING SELF THAT IT IS FICTION>

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  • Posted October 4, 2013

    I really enjoyed this read!

    Ms Cantor did a great job in creating a story that seemed so real without using graphic details. I was anxious to return to this book each time.

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