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Word Count: 1,387
Only the children countThe Hidden Life of Otto Frankby Carol Ann Lee384pp VikingAs he himself said Otto Frank had a unique part to play in life It is a strange role he said in the 1970s In the normal family relationship it is the child of the famous parents who has the honour and the burden of continuing the task In my case the role is reversedOtto began to take on that strange role in September 1945 when he first opened the pages of his dead daughters diary Almost immediately - and in the face of some opposition from friends and acquaintances - he decided that it had to be publishedCarol Ann Lees biography naturally centres on this decision and its repercussions and she takes to the necessary research like a duck to muddy water laying out all the deals and the negotiations the praise and the criticism the arguments and the lawsuits that dominated Ottos life for the next 35 yearsYet somehow in over 300 pages Otto remains a rather blank character This is partly because in his early life he didnt leave much behind that could give us a way into this kind generous upstanding but unremarkable member of an assimilated bourgeois German Jewish family And it is also I think because Lee never quite brings into focus the relationship between Otto and his daughter while Anne was aliveAt first I thought that this relationship remained out of reach because there was too little material that dealt with it directly But then I read the book that Lee published three years ago a biography of Anne Frank called Roses from the Earth In this book Lee reveals Ottos protective and lively relationship with his daughter far better than she does hereClearly its because Lee is wary of repeating herself that she skates over so much of this material in the new biography But when you have a figure like Otto Frank whose interest
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