In this sure-to-be divisive reimagining of history, City of Women author David Gillham asks readers: What would Anne Frank’s life have been like if she’d survived the Holocaust? After much research from her diary, Gillham gives us an idea of how the Frank family struggled to live with trauma, fear, and grief. Although difficult to read at times, this is ultimately a story of hope, forgiveness, and love.
A powerful and deeply humane new novel that asks the question: What if Anne Frank survived the Holocaust?
The year is 1945, and Anne Frank is sixteen years old. Having survived the concentration camps, but lost her mother and sister, she reunites with her father, Pim, in newly liberated Amsterdam. But it’s not as easy to fit the pieces of their life back together. Anne is adrift, haunted by the ghosts of the horrors they experienced, while Pim is fixated on returning to normalcy. Her beloved diary has been lost, and her dreams of becoming a writer seem distant and pointless now.
As Anne struggles to overcome the brutality of memory and build a new life for herself, she grapples with heartbreak, grief, and ultimately the freedom of forgiveness. A story of trauma and redemption, Annelies honors Anne Frank’s legacy as not only a symbol of hope and perseverance, but also a complex young woman of great ambition and heart.
Anne Frank is a cultural icon whose diary painted a vivid picture of the Holocaust and made her an image of humanity in one of history’s darkest moments. But she was also a person—a precocious young girl with a rich inner life and tremendous skill as a writer. In this masterful new novel, David R. Gillham explores with breathtaking empathy the woman—and the writer—she might have become.
About the Author
David R. Gillham is the New York Times bestselling author of City of Women. He studied screenwriting at the University of Southern California before transitioning into fiction. After moving to New York City, Gillham spent more than a decade in the book business, and he now lives with his family in Western Massachusetts. In writing this book he has spent six years researching Anne Frank and her world, immersing himself in the available material and traveling to important landmarks of her life.
“Gillham is a powerful storyteller, and Annelies is marbled with spare eloquence that captures the absurdity of life after the camps. . . . A novel that reminds the world to remember Anne Frank is most welcome.” —USA Today
“A tour de force.” —Historical Novels Society
“In this haunting what-if, David Gillham asks us to reflect on the quandary of how one learns—in the unimaginable wake of the Holocaust—to live again, shedding a powerful, human light on the tragedy of lost potential.” —Georgia Hunter, New York Times bestselling author of We Were the Lucky Ones
“To imagine the could-have-been life of Anne Frank, one of the real-life pillars of our understanding of the Holocaust, is a risky undertaking, but David Gilham delivers his story with sensitivity and grace. The result is not only a poignant reminder of all that was lost during the war, but a vivid, searching exploration of what it meant to exist in the aftermath.” —Jessica Shattuck, New York Times bestselling author of The Women in the Castle
“I had to slow down reading Annelies to better absorb the beauty and power of David Gillham’s words. His depth of understanding of human resilience and our capacity to survive and find the light after unimaginable darkness is a gift. A stunning evocation of the human spirit and its ability to inspire across borders, languages, and decades.” —Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything
“In Annelies, David Gillham not only explores what might have happened if Anne Frank had survived, but also draws an intimate portrait of life as a Jewish survivor in post-war Amsterdam. By turns a coming-of-age novel and a story of survival, redemption, and family—Annelies is a meticulously researched, emotionally resonant what-if.” —Jillian Cantor, author of Margot and The Lost Letter
“Gillham has given Annelies Marie Frank the life so brutally taken from her, in the process honoring all the ‘Annes’ who were lost in the Holocaust. . . . Gillham’s beautifully crafted novel is a respectful tribute to the creative and passionate writer who died so young. . . . Frank’s life thereafter is so vividly realized that readers will have to keep reminding themselves this is fiction. Highly recommended for admirers of literary historical fiction such as Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelley’s Lilac Girls.” —Library Journal
Praise for David Gillham’s City of Women
“I can’t wait for Gillham’s next novel—play it again, Sam.” —Stephen King
“The writing is a great mix of the literary and commercial, page-turning and suspenseful, with a morally complex, intelligent heroine at its center. If you’re a fan of well-written historical novels in the vein of Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, this one is for you.” —Slate
“Philip Kerr and Alan Furst have outdone their literary counterparts. Now, with his first novel, City of Women, David R. Gillham joins their rank.” —Charles Finch, USA Today
“Gillham’s writing is often stunning . . . The characters are complex . . . Deeply felt and mercilessly real.” —The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
“A meticulously researched and beautifully told love story—and a remarkable look at life in Germany during World War II.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“A thriller of searing intensity that asks the most urgent of questions—how to love, who to trust, what can be saved in the very darkest of times. . . . Utterly compelling.” —Margaret Leroy, New York Times bestselling author of The Soldier’s Wife
“A moving and masterful debut . . . Powerful and piercingly real. You won’t soon forget these characters.” —Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife