How we all wish that she had survived. That bright-eyed and brave child diarist, whose candid, wise-beyond-her years journal of her undercover exile in an Amsterdam house—bearing heartrending testimony to a young life cut short by the Holocaust—has become one of most admired autobiographies in the western canon. In this novel, David R. Gillham imagines what would have happened, had Anne Frank not died in Bergen-Belsen, but returned to the Dutch capital after the war and reunited with her beloved father in order to start life anew, albeit without her mother and sister, who perished in the camps. Now a teenager, Anne is determined to fulfill her ambition of achieving global fame as a witness to Nazi terror—however, the diary she kept in Prinsengracht has gone missing, and while she desperately searches for its whereabouts, the ghost of her murdered sister Margot haunts her, and she is overcome by an uncontrollable anger at the agonies she has been forced to endure. Will Anne overcome her fury, once she finds her lost journal? In order to survive, she must recapture her child-like self, which was able to love existence despite its attendant horrors.
Although the act of writing is often tantamount to raising the dead, the resurrection of Anne Frank in Annelies is a daring feat. The words she wrote as a trusting, precocious child still resound with the reader, and so it is a challenging, and often unbearably sad experience to accompany Anne on her journey into adulthood. Her incarceration at Bergen-Belsen is impressively portrayed, as is her survivor’s guilt after she escapes the Nazi death machine. And although her belated success as a writer can heal some of her wounds, her deepest traumas remain unresolved. A tour de force.