How do you review a book which is part of history? Probably very badly as I am sure everyone (or nearly everyone) knows the story of Anne Frank.
What you have with this book is the innocent story of a girl who goes into hiding in 1942 in Amsterdam to escape the Nazi occupation, her and her family, Mother and Father and Sister, Margot’s only crime being Jewish despite being German.
Anne recalls life in the Secret Annexe – the daily struggle to keep amused, educated, fed, entertained as well as the development of her own conscience and place in life in a world which is destroying itself. Added to this we have the confrontations with her mother, and the other people in the annexe.
I remember many passages from when I read this when I was younger, but some of it was new to me or my memory had failed to recall it. The relationship that developed with Peter was rather sweet but one I am in no doubt would not have survived outside the walls of this hidden home. Anne was quite clearly intelligent and her writing was very concise and succinct. Her comments were rather adult for her age and she certainly developed into someone who had an understanding of the world and want to know more. Sadly that was not to be.
As an adult reading this (it was my book clubs choice) I felt I was intruding on something very personal, there was no excitement in reading a diary as if their had been years ago. As an adult, knowledge and experience suddenly make you view the book very differently – I was rather shocked and Anne having to share a bedroom with Albert Dussell (the name she gave Fritz Pfeffer in her diary) but the adults thought nothing of it. It was all about trying to survive. It was in some ways I had lost my innocence view of everything since becoming older than Anne – but when you read the book when you are around Anne’s age – that innocence is still there.
I am glad I have revisited this book as an adult. And I am in no doubt that everyone should read it but I think they should read it at around the same age range as Anne herself. It is a strange thing to pick up a book knowing the ending before reading anything and also having the knowledge of that ending which Anne did not when she started writing her diary.
A moving thoughtful read.
This was my book club’s choice for July and I will report back on how we got on with it.
I am trying to remember what the programmes were like which I recall watching when I was young on the television, I am sure on a Sunday afternoon / tea time. It was around 1987 the programme came out (thank goodness for the internet!) and I would have been about 10/11 at the time so I was probably at the age which is where it affected me the most. There was a more recent adaptation in 2010, which I chose not to watch, probably because you know what is going to happen and I think that was the whole crux of the book. In that respect it is something that everyone should know about – whether it is to learn about history, the holocaust, victimisation, ethnic cleansing it reaches out an teaches us many things about the horrors of humans.