My book club met this past Wednesday night to discuss the debut novel by Lori Nelson Spielman - "The Life List." I had read a description of it somewhere and found it intriguing. So it ended up on my Amazon "wish list" (I find this so much easier than scribbling the title and author of a book on the back of an envelope or a slip of scratch paper). Then it became a suggestion for the November book. Perfect. It will give me a reason to read it right away.
"The Life List" is an interesting premise. Brett, a 34-year-old woman living in the Chicago area, has just lost her mother, a cosmetics mogul of sorts who runs her own company. At the reading of the will, Brett learns the only way she can get her part of the inheritance is to complete this "life list" she wrote when she was 14. Items on the list included get a dog, buy horse, fall in love and have a baby, maybe two. And she has to complete this list in a year. This forces Brett to face these challenges, trying to become the woman her mother wanted her to be. It was a quick read and a very captivating plot. I can't wait to see what else Spielman will have to offer down the road.
Another book I found myself reading in the last couple of weeks is one of those "what if" novels. Here's the scenario - imagine if Anne Frank's older sister, Margot (who isn't mentioned a whole lot in Anne's diary) did not die in the concentration camp and was 33 and living in Philadelphia as a secretary in a law firm. The movie based on her sister's diary had just come out, and Margot, known now as Margie Franklin, has basically made herself a Gentile from Poland. She is always wearing a sweater, even in the summer heat, to hide the tattoo she got when she entered the concentration camp. She works for a Jewish law firm - and she's falling in love with her boss, Joshua. In the years since she came to America, Margie looks for Peter, the boy who also lived in the annex with his family and the Franks. While they were in hiding, they had made plans to come to Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love and change their names and leave their heritage behind.
Margie continually has feelings of guilt, for living and leaving behind her sister. Even though she has put away the past, Margie still quietly practices her religion in her apartment.
Then a Jewish woman comes into the law firm. She had survived the concentration camp and was working at a factory. It's an anti-Semitism case that the woman wants the firm to take on. And the woman is suspicious of Margie. And rightfully so.
Sure it may have been a little much creating a fictionalized version of the story of the sister of a well-known girl that died in the Holocaust.
But I was interested in the story and how Jillian Cantor, the author, would do with it. It spurs me to look up other "what if" or fictionalized stories about other well-known people. There's a book titled "The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank" by Ellen Feldman where Peter van Pels survives the Holocaust and escapes to America. Feldman also wrote a book "Lucy" about Franklin Delano Roosevelt falling in love with his wife's social secretary, Lucy Mercer.