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Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife    by Francine Prose order for
Anne Frank
by Francine Prose
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Lori Waddington

In 1942, thirteen-year-old Anne Frank went into hiding from the Nazis with her sister, mother, father, and four others. During that time, Anne kept a daily diary in which she recorded her innermost thoughts and feelings that she 'hoped would go on living' even after her death. All eight people hid in a warehouse for twenty-five months until they were discovered by the Nazis and sent to concentration camps. All of them perished except for Anne's father, Otto Frank.

It was summer of 1945 when Otto Frank discovered Anne's diary, and 'he was persuaded that Anne had wanted her diary to be published as a book.' But this was no easy task, as 'the manuscript was rejected by every editor who read it, none of whom could imagine that readers would buy the intimate diary of a teenage girl, dead in the war.' It was eventually published in the Netherlands in 1947, and in the United States in 1951.

I must admit I was surprised to learn that 'roughly 25 pages were cut from the manuscript,' mainly the ones 'where Anne wrote too freely about sex and about her body, ... which has resulted in the book's being banned from schools and libraries.' It wasn't until 1995, that the Definitive Edition of Anne's diary restored certain passages that Otto Frank had deleted per his publisher's request.

'The saga of the Broadway production of The Diary of Anne Frank is so rife with betrayal and bad behavior ... that at least four books have attempted to explain what happened and why.' An American novelist named Meyer Levin 'was convinced that he was the perfect choice to adapt the play for the stage,' but Levin, 'whose every hour was haunted by Anne Frank's ghost,' eventually 'became impossible to deal with on any terms,' and was bent 'on destroying both himself and Anne's play.'

The job of writing the play eventually went to husband and wife screenwriting team Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich, who were told that 'the only way the play will go on will be if it's funny,' and were persuaded to leaven the tragic story 'with moments of lovely comedy.' Unfortunately, this led to 'Anne's true seriousness' being left out of the script. Hackett and Goodrich also adapted the play for the big screen, the adaptation advertised as 'a psychological thriller' rather than the diary of a young girl.

Now I will admit that Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife is not a simple read. Author Francine Prose has done an amazing job of putting together page after page of behind the scene facts that can at times be a bit overwhelming. That being said, if you want to know more about what became of Anne Frank's diary after her death, this book is not to be missed.

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