by Jillian Cantor

Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Published: September 3rd, 2013
by Penguin




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.


And let us not forget Margot, who kept her own diary, which was never found.

– Miep Gies

While I really enjoyed Cantor’s Searching for Sky, I absolutely fell head over heels for her historical retelling Margot. Margot hit me on a much more personal and emotional level than her other novel did, as well as leaving me with a lot to think about too.

If you’ve read Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, you’ll remember that Anne has an older sister named Margot, who has somewhat been forgotten in history in place of her vivacious younger sister’s famous diary.

Margot is a historical “what-if” retelling about Margot (surprise, surprise!). Margie Franklin is a young lawyer with a secret: she’s really Margot Frank and has made a new life for herself in the United States. When her sister’s diary is published and begins gaining popularity, Margie is forced to come to terms with the young girl she used to be.

One of the things I loved most about this novel was the way Jillian Cantor crafted Margie. You can see how daftly Margie is struggling to forget the horrors of the war and the concentration camps, so much so that she pretends to be a Christian lawyer. She’s layered in layers and layers of secrets and lies, so much so that she doesn’t know what’s real anymore.

I am good at keeping secrets. I am wrapped in them now, the way I am wrapped in lies, like my sweater, clinging tightly to my skin, even on the hottest of days.

The character growth in Margie is pheonominal. She goes through a 180 character-wise and your heart really reaches out to hear as she learns to accept her past.

Told in heart-poundingly beautiful prose with a unique and unforgettable narrative voice, Margot is truly one of a kind, and as someone who was truly touched by Anne’s diary, it adds a wonderful extra layer to the original story.


54 thoughts on “Margot

  1. Oh I haven’t even read The Diary of Anne Frank, BUT THIS SOUNDS AMAZING. Did you say this was the same author that wrote Searching for Sky, oh yep. I haven’t read that either, but I should probably get on that huh?

    AWESOME REVIEW ZOE AS USUAL. I’m adding Margot to my TBR!

      And it is! You should definitely put both on your TBR – they’re very different from each other, yet both fantastic in their different ways. Thank you!

  2. This one sounds amazing! And to think that I’ve never even heard of it. I read The Diary of a Young Girl and remember how much that touched me. I’m always for alternate historical works and I’m glad that Margie’s characterisation is done well. And beautiful prose is what I love the most. Thank you for the WONDERFUL review, Zoe! I’m DEFINITELY going to have to read this one! <33 x

    1. If you liked The Diary of a Young Girl like I did, definitely check this out too! It’s a really interesting what-if retelling if you’re into that kind of thing. πŸ™‚ Thank YOU for the lovely comment!

  3. Great review Zoe! I’ve read ‘Searching for Sky’ and ‘Diary of a Young Girl’ and really enjoyed both of those, so I’m looking forward to reading this one. I love historical fiction, and reading this novel looks like something I would really enjoy πŸ™‚

    1. If you liked both of those, then WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!? Go pick this up! I’m looking forward to seeing your thoughts. πŸ˜‰

    1. I completely understand where you’re coming from Keertana. It’s a difficult read, but it’s definitely worth it. Thank you!

  4. This kind of reminds me of Prisoner of Night and Fog in the way it tells a “What If” story with characters that are familiar to us. I know I had to read
    The Diary of a Young Girl when I was in school but can not remember it for the life of me, shame. LOVE those quotes you picked, I can tell I would like the writing already. Plus character development? πŸ˜€ Definitely going to check this one out!

    1. It is definitely similar to Prisoner of Night and Fog! If you like the sound of the writing and characterization, definitely give this a try! πŸ™‚

    1. I KNOW! πŸ˜€ Such an interesting premise, right? πŸ˜€ I hope when you read it you end up enjoying it as much as I did! πŸ˜€ Thank you!

  5. Oh I didn’t remember about the sister but it sounds so interesting! I think I would love to read her story. I’m glad you had a good time, it’s the first time I hear about this one but I’ll try to keep it in mind now! Great review!

  6. I had to read Anne Frank in school six different times, so I know it quite well. I like that this story tells about her older sister and that she got to survive in this story. I think she’d have some terrible PTSD though. I’m glad that it was handled in a positive light. It must have been risky for the author to write such a book. I’m glad that you like it.

    1. She definitely does have PTSD here, but the entire story is definitely about her overcoming that and having her come to terms with the person she used to be. And I completely agree – it was definitely a risky but rewarding topic. Thank you!

  7. Oh. OH I NEED THIS. Mostly because I love Jillian Cantor, but also…a historical retelling?! I read one once about what if Hitler had a daughter, and it was so thought-provoking and interesting and I just love that kind of speculation. This is absolutely getting added on goodreads. Gosh, Zoe, YOU are not helping my tbr now. x)

    1. Was that Prisoner of Night and Fog Cait? πŸ˜‰
      And ha! Says the person who gives out 5 stars willy nilly. πŸ˜‰ Haha…just kidding…but really now.

  8. I hate to say that I haven’t read Anne Frank’s diary, but a huge reason for that is because I’m terrified to read it. I know it’s going to be really emotional and I don’t do well reading really emotional books like that. πŸ™ But I will read it eventually!

    I like the idea behind Margot, and I’m very interested to read this. It’s such a unique and interesting concept, and brings to light many questions about what history books always tell us. ;D

    Awesome review, as always. πŸ™‚

    1. Sydney – I completely understand. Neither Anne’s diary – nor Margot – are easy reads, so if you’re not into emotional books, this probably won’t be the right book for you, as good as I think it is. I’m glad you’re intrigued by the concept though! Thank you! πŸ™‚

    1. So glad you’re intrigued Shannon! πŸ˜€ IMO, it was even better than Searching for Sky, so if you liked SfS, I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts on this! πŸ˜€ Thank you! :heart:

  9. Valerie said it first, so I should probably admit it too- I’ve never read The Diary of Anne Frank either. It was never assigned in class, and i think we read excerpts but for whatever reason, never the whole thing. As time went on, I guess I just didn’t think to read it but I do really want too because I think Ann is fascinating. Love the idea for this book too; that’s great you liked it so much.

    1. YOU HAVEN’T READ ANNE’S DIARY?!?! Lauren – you need to get on that pronto! It is absolutely fantastic, and I’m interested in seeing what you think!

  10. BAHAHA I BARELY SEE AN AUTHOR WITH THE SAME NAME AS ME, THIS IS COOL!! I had no idea Anne Frank had a sister!! I really liked learning about Anne Frank and her diary because I’m interested in historical stuff. I’m definitely going to read this! Your review literally convinced me πŸ™‚ I have a question though: Are some parts of the book true?? πŸ™‚

    1. HAHA! πŸ˜€
      If you liked Anne’s diary, this is definitely something I’d recommend! πŸ™‚ I’m so glad to hear my review convinced you!
      And I think some parts of the story are true (unfortunately not Margot surviving obviously), but I think the way Cantor portrays Margot’s personality in this story is real, or at least based off of how Anne portrayed her in her diary if that makes sense. πŸ™‚

  11. Anne’s diary was a beautiful read and I remember clearly the emotions that spilled out of me at its conclusion. I really loved Searching for Sky as well and the way Cantor has a way with her words. It’s amazing how she can take history and give it a twist in a what-if sense. Not enough people know about Margot, so I’m definitely really interested in reading this one. Wonderful review Zoe! xx

    1. If you loved Anne’s diary AND Searching for Sky, this is definitely something I’d definitely recommend Joy. πŸ™‚ Like you said, unfortunately not many people are familiar with Margot, so I thought it was sweet that Cantor tried to give her a happy ending; even if it was fiction, you know?

  12. Oh, wow. This sounds haunting. I was a little worried reading the description about how Anne and Margo would be portrayed . . . because that’s a sensitive thing and I’d hate to see who these girls were be rewritten and warped into something less. Reading your review though <3 this sounds so beautifully handled and like a wonderful exploration of what could have been

    1. I was a little worried reading the description about how Anne and Margo would be portrayed . . . because that’s a sensitive thing and I’d hate to see who these girls were be rewritten and warped into something less.

      That was my fear too Allie! Anne and Margot are both such inspiring people; and it would be a shame if they were written as anything less than that. I know that some people were uncomfortable reading this because they felt like it was just not morally right to write a story like this, but I thought it was really well done, and if you end up reading it, I hope you feel the same way.

  13. Ermergerd. Its sad to say this, but I haven’t read the Diary of Anne Frank. *hides* but I’ll read that first, before I try this haha. HURRAY FOR CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

  14. WHAT. This is SUCH a fascinating idea for a story. The concept alone would have been enough to get me interested, but your praise sealed the deal. Like Allie said, it would have been a shame if the characters were badly portrayed, but your description of Margot’s struggles makes it sound like the author put a huge amount of time and thought into getting them right. I’m off to add this title to my TBR now!

    1. I KNOW RIGHT?! So glad you’re as intrigued by it as I was. πŸ™‚ I was scared about that too! Anne + Margot are such inspiring people and it would be horrible if they were written as anything less than that, you know? I know that some people were uncomfortable reading this because they felt like it was just not morally right to write a story like this, but I thought it was really well done, and if you end up reading it, I hope you feel the same way.

  15. I haven’t read Searching for Sky yet, since I’ve read mixed reviews for it, but didn’t even know about this! Sounds much more interesting. Though with ones like these, taking a real person, it can go either way, so glad it come off good. πŸ™‚

    1. I definitely agree Kristy-Marie – it’s such a risk basing a character off of someone real, especially someone as inspiring and historically significant as the Frank sisters; but I found it to be really well done personally, so I hope you end up feeling the same way when / if you read it. πŸ™‚

  16. I simply must grab a copy of this. It sounds brilliant. I wasn’t a fan of Searching For Sky. At all. But this sounds simply beautiful. I remember reading Anne Frank when I was at school. You had me beautiful prose. The character development sounds both stunning and heartbreaking. Thanks for the incredibly review Zoe, can’t wait to try this one <3

    1. The characterization and prose combined to make an absolutely wonderful story in my eyes, so I really do hope you end up feeling the same way. πŸ™‚ Thank you for the lovely comment!

  17. It’s fantastic that the author was able to make her protagonist undergo so much character growth in only one book, and I have a weakness for beautiful prose. It’s definitely an added bonus when you’re able to connect with a story on both a personal and emotional level. I’ll keep my eyes open for Cantor’s novels in the future.

    1. Thank you Carmel! I completely agree – character growth and beautiful prose are absolutely amazing, but if you’re able to connect with it on a personal / emotional level it makes it that much better, you know? πŸ˜€

  18. WOAH this book sounds freaking horrific and fantastic, I didn’t know about it until you reviewed it Zoe! That character development for Margot sounds so intense, and I could just imagine it would be heart breaking like how Jillian Cantor could deliver. Really wonderful review Zoe!

  19. Wait, wait! Margot that Margot. I have no idea how did the author get the idea to write about her, but I’m here giving her standing ovations. Amazing idea and I’m so happy that the story was this good too. Amazing review, Zoe πŸ™‚

  20. Oh this is totally new to me and it sounds really good! I don’t often read historical novels but the writing and characters in this one sound super well done and worth it! Plus I love me some dark books!

  21. That you for this review because otherwise I don’t think I’d have even heard of this book. It sounds amazing! And like it might break my heart a little. This is going straight on my TBR list and I will be hunting down a copy as soon as I can.

Leave a Reply