Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife - Francine Prose Three stars is maybe a little harsh, but half-stars aren't an option here and as the second half of the book (focusing on the play and movie versions, including all the backstabbing and intrigue involved) gets muddled and bogged down, I can't quite bring myself to give it four stars.

Prose shines in her analysis of the Diary itself, including Anne's maturation as a writer, the rewrites, and Otto's handling of the material when it passed into his hands after the war. Focusing on Anne the writer (and thus Anne the human being) instead of Anne the saint was refreshing and long overdue, even if her assertion that Anne was a child prodigy is a bit sketchy. (I find it contradictory to call Anne a child prodigy with one breath and then insist she was a mature individual during the revision process, even an adult as Anne viewed herself, with the next.) Overall, Prose did a wonderful job with this section. I just wish she had done more with it, because I feel she could have taken her analysis further. (And if it was concern over the length of the finish product, I would vote in favor of cutting most of the second half altogether.)

When the book begins to tackle the play and movie versions, the book slows down and gets somewhat lost, like Prose got so involved in the names of actors and the intrigue that she forgot what she had originally set out to do with this work. The main thesis--Anne the writer--gets lost amidst all this unnecessary information, oddly proving the point Prose is making about the disintegration of Anne's image after death and post-Diary. I could have done without it, because I simply don't care about whether the actresses who played her were any good or if one's man's obsession with bringing the Diary to American audiences drove him insane.

What I did care about was Anne, her growth as a writer, the Diary itself and the changes it went through before eventual publication, and the impact of both book and the image of Anne Frank on post-war conscience. The Book, the Life, the Afterlife provides that excellently, even if it did leave me wishing for more.