Yesterday, Jillian Cantor wrote about religion and having children. Her most recent book, Margot (Riverhead), is now available. She has been blogging here all week for Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning.
In my novel, Margot, I reimagine Margot Frank, Anne’s older sister, having survived the war and come to Philadelphia where she works as a legal secretary living under the assumed name of Margie Franklin. My book takes place in 1959, just as Anne’s diary is coming to the silver screen, and where Margie Franklin’s present and Margot Frank’s past begin to collide.
As I was writing the novel, I had trouble finding much information about the real Margot Frank. Though Margot also kept a diary when the family was hiding in the annex, hers was never recovered after the war, and very little is known about her today. I could gather only small tidbits from the descriptions of Margot in Anne’s diary and from a few other books published about the family.
But one thing that stood out to me in my research was the reason why the family went into hiding when they did: Margot received a call-up notice from the Germans to report to a forced labor camp. The family moved up their plans, and went into hiding the next day, essentially to keep Margot safe.
I read that Margot Frank left for the annex separately from Anne and their parents, so as not to arouse suspicion. She layered on clothes and rode her bike (which Jews were restricted from doing at the time) in the pouring rain. She rode to the annex with Miep Gies, as if the two of them were simply Gentile secretaries, on their way to work.
The fictional events of my novel are far removed from this bike ride that the real Margot Frank took, but that was the vision I began with of Margot – a young woman terrified and without her family, but composed enough to ride her bike through the pouring rain to go into hiding, to save herself. A woman who was brave even when she must’ve been deeply afraid. A woman who understood how to hide herself, even when she was out in the open.Jillian Cantor is the author of award-winning novels for teens and adults including, The September Sisters, The Life of Glass, and The Transformation of Things. Her latest novel for adults is Margot (Riverhead Books). Read more about Jillian here.
Jillian Cantor has a BA in English from Penn State University and an MFA from the University of Arizona. She is the author of award-winning novels for teens and adults, including, most recently, the critically acclaimed The Lost Letter, The Hours Count, and Margot. Born and raised in a suburb of Philadelphia, Cantor currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.