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September 4, 2013

Book Notes - Jillian Cantor "Margot"


In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Jillian Cantor's novel Margot is a provocative and compassionate account of what the life of Anne Frank's older sister could have been.

Stream a Spotify playlist of these tunes. If you don't have Spotify yet, sign up for the free service.

In her own words, here is Jillian Cantor's Book Notes music playlist for her novel, Margot:

In my novel, Margot, a young woman named Margie Franklin works as a secretary at a Jewish law firm in Philadelphia in 1959. However no one else in the office knows her secret, not only that she is Jewish, a Holocaust survivor, but also that she is really Margot Frank, older sister of Anne, who in 1959 has just come to the American silver screen, played by actress Millie Perkins. In the law firm, Margie sits across from Shelby, who is American and obsessed with pop culture of the time. Everything Margie learns about music comes from Shelby, who plays her radio in the office on Friday afternoons after all the lawyers have left for their weekend homes. What follows are some of the songs mentioned in the book that Margie hears on Shelby's radio, and a few not mentioned in the book that I think Margie could've heard.

"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" - The Platters

Margie hears this song on the Friday the book begins, and she says it is a song that always reminds her of Peter, even from the very first time she heard it. The book is very much about hiding, about people not being able to see things clearly for what and who they are, and so it is fitting that she hears this as the book begins.

"Venus" - Frankie Avalon

This song plays at a crucial moment for Margie in the book, just as her boss asks her to do something that will begin to unravel the new life she has created for herself. As Shelby turns up her radio to enjoy the music, Margie thinks that Frankie Avalon is shouting at her: Surely the things I ask can't be too great a task. . .

"Lonely Boy" - Paul Anka

When this song plays from Shelby's radio Margie focuses on the line All I want is someone to love. . . And really this is all she wants throughout the book. This song plays at a moment, where Margie isn't sure who she loves, whether to stay in the past or open herself up to a future.

"I Wanna Be Loved By You" - Performed by Marilyn Monroe

This song was in Some Like it Hot, a movie Margie says Shelby dragged her to see just before the book begins, and which she doesn't understand the humor in. Hiding isn't funny to her, even the screwball American comedy version. If she heard this song playing on Shelby's radio, she would think of that. She may also think about her love interest in the book, whom she secretly pines for but believes is out of her reach. I won't say any more, as I don't want to give anything away!

"All Shook Up" - Elvis Presley

This describes the state that Margie is in for most of the book, and at one point in the book there is a significant pink Cadillac, which someone tells Margie is the same car Elvis Presley drives. I imagine if Margie heard this on Shelby's radio she would think about that pink Cadillac again and whether that might be tied to her past, an idea that continually shakes her throughout the book.

"Sisters" - sung by Rosemary Clooney & Betty Clooney

So much of the book is about sisters. What it means to have a sister and to lose one. How complicated the relationship is, how Anne is such a big part of Margie's thoughts and life, even many years after her death. If Margie were to hear this song on Shelby's radio one Friday afternoon in 1959, I know she would think about Anne, as she often does.

Jillian Cantor and Margot links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

O. The Oprah Magazine review
Publishers Weekly review
Time review

Arizona Jewish Post profile of the author
CarolineLeavittville interview with the author
Women in the World essay by the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists

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