Friday, April 20, 2012

Annexed- Fictionalizing Historical People

Last week, I posted about listening to Annexed, by Sharon Dogar. The story of the Anne Frank house from Peter's POV.

I've finished it now, and it was amazing. Hard to listen to, especially at the end in the camps, but amazing.

The author did take some historical liberties with the characters, and I was interested to hear what some of you might think about that.

First off, as some of you probably know (so it won't be a spoiler for everyone), Anne Frank's father was the only one who survived the Holocaust. So, the author did give Peter a more hopeful death than historically he might have had. I'm fine with that liberty, as it made the ending more bearable.

The part I'm having some trouble with are the liberties the author took with Peter and Anne's sexual feelings for each other. I do know there's a strong chance their relationship wasn't as squeaky clean as Anne portrayed in her diary, but there is a chance it was just as she wrote, and I'm not sure how I feel about putting different feelings/actions onto such a private matter.

Not that anything scandalous happens. Honest. The feelings they express and their actions, I'm sure, were fairly common for teens of their era and upbringing.

I'm also not a prude...I think it might have been nice if (like Romeo and Juliet) they would have at least had their "one night" together...they would (like Romeo and Juliet) both end up dying after all.

Still, it's not certain that the author's portrayal is how Anne and Peter really felt/acted. (unless there were some additional writings or testimony from her father that the author didn't put in the afterward).

What about you? What kinds of liberties do you think an author should/shouldn't take when it comes to historical figures?


  1. A topic near and dear to me, as one of my completed manuscripts features a fictionalized Alice Roosevelt! It's a tricky thing--a fiction writer often isn't a historian, and sometimes facts get in the way of a good story. I took some liberties but I tried to make them true to my character, who I felt was true to the spirit of the historical figure. I also indicated in an afterword that for the purposes of my story, Alice shouldn't be seen as a historical figure but a fictional character, and suggested NF works on her for the *real* story.
    Is that enough? I'm not sure!

  2. In all of the historical fictions I've read the author has had notes at the end of the chapter or book explaining what was truth and what they added, which I thought was a great idea.

  3. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I think as a writer I'd be a little nervous to take on an actual historical figure in a work of fiction. I'd be so worried that any liberties I took would come back to haunt me, you know? I think like Rebecca says, if it's true to the spirit of that character then fewer people will fault you for it. Still, not sure I'd do it. Though, I will probably read this book at some point. :)

  4. Wow, this sounds like a good book. I have a hard time reading things like this, and even watching movies. I still haven't seen Schindler's List, if you can believe it. I become a total wreck.

    Anyway, about liberties, I'm ok with it as long as it would seem in line with the character. So I'd probably agree with you on this one. And in a story like this, it seems like it wasn't needed. But of course I haven't read it yet, so who am I to say?