The World That We Knew
In 1941, during humanity’s darkest hour, three unforgettable young women must act with courage and love to survive, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Dovekeepers and The Marriage of Opposites Alice Hoffman. In Berlin, at the time when the world changed, Hanni Kohn knows she must send her twelve-year-old daughter away to save her from the Nazi regime. She finds her way to a renowned rabbi, but it’s his daughter, Ettie, who offers hope of salvation when she creates a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Lea. Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked.Lea and Ava travel from Paris, where Lea meets her soulmate, to a convent in western France known for its silver roses; from a school in a mountaintop village where three thousand Jews were saved. Meanwhile, Ettie is in hiding, waiting to become the fighter she’s destined to be.What does it mean to lose your mother? How much can one person sacrifice for love? In a world where evil can be found at every turn, we meet remarkable characters that take us on a stunning journey of loss and resistance, the fantastical and the mortal, in a place where all roads lead past the Angel of Death and love is never ending.

The World That We Knew Details

TitleThe World That We Knew
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 24th, 2019
PublisherSimon & Schuster
ISBN-139781501137570
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Fantasy, Magical Realism, War, World War II

The World That We Knew Review

  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful books I’ve read. I don’t know much of anything about Jewish Mysticism or folklore, but it’s woven into the story in such a stunning way. It does take some suspension of disbelief to accept the premise of the story, a mother begging a rabbi’s daughter to create a golem to bring her daughter to safety, a dancing heron who loves the golem and the angel of death. Yet, I didn’t once feel that the importance, the depth and breadth of the suffering of t This is one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful books I’ve read. I don’t know much of anything about Jewish Mysticism or folklore, but it’s woven into the story in such a stunning way. It does take some suspension of disbelief to accept the premise of the story, a mother begging a rabbi’s daughter to create a golem to bring her daughter to safety, a dancing heron who loves the golem and the angel of death. Yet, I didn’t once feel that the importance, the depth and breadth of the suffering of the Jews at the hands on the Nazis was in the least diluted by the fairytale nature, the magical realism in this story because at its core, this is about the Holocaust. The horrific things that happened to Jews were always front and center beginning with the unimaginable - a mother sending her child away to save her from the Nazis, to the stories of what happens to the families of the characters who have fled to survive or to save others. There aren’t fairytale and mystical characters on every page. There is the realism of the real monsters with their inhuman treatment of innocent men, women and children. Some of the most descriptive and difficult passages are those that deal with what happens to those who have not escaped, those who were rounded up and taken to camps, to the deaths of resistance members. The writing is superb. The story telling is magnificent. I loved how the chapters alternate between the characters and how their stories connect and how more characters are introduced. There are stories within the story - the white wolf, the silver roses. It begins with Hanni and Lea and Ettie and Ava, then expands to include the people they love, the roles that some of them play in the resistance. I felt so emotionally connected to these characters . I was afraid for what could happen to any of them, each of them facing the angel of death at some point.I loved Hoffman’s note to the reader in the beginning, about writing, about remembering, about how the book came to be and her thoughts on fairy tales and life and I think I was hooked then. She tells the reader how she met a woman who as a young Jewish child was sent away by her parents to a convent and because of this she survived the Holocaust. She wanted Hoffman to write her life story. She wanted her story told so it would be remembered. But Hoffman told her that she couldn’t since her “interests were fairy tales, myths, and folktales.”. She later realized that “...the tale of a child separated from her parents, is the central motif of many fairy tales ...” and that fairy tales contain “the deepest psychological truths.” And so we have this beautifully written novel where she remembers the woman’s story, and enables us not to forget, which for me is a hallmark of Holocaust literature. It’s also a tribute to the people of the resistance who helped to save as many Jews as they could, thousands of them children, a tribute to their unselfish bravery and goodness. It’s an amazing portrayal of the power of love and hope even in the most dark and dismal of times. I have read just a few novels by this prolific author and I’m determined to read more.I read this with Diane and Esil. As always I enjoyed our thoughtful discussions. I received an advanced copy of this book from Simon & Schuster through Edelweiss.
    more
  • Elyse Walters
    January 1, 1970
    LONG....( ha.....again?/! ......I couldn’t help myself), but NO SPOILERS...This book has crawled under my skin. It’s a book of womanly strength, love, and wisdom....set in WWII. Usually I write a review immediately upon finishing it. I’m glad I waited. It took me longer to read this novel more than others of the same length. I paused longer - lingered longer - over sentences. I also spent time studying history I was unfamiliar with. With feelings of being small - in my own ability to write a rev LONG....( ha.....again?/! ......I couldn’t help myself), but NO SPOILERS...This book has crawled under my skin. It’s a book of womanly strength, love, and wisdom....set in WWII. Usually I write a review immediately upon finishing it. I’m glad I waited. It took me longer to read this novel more than others of the same length. I paused longer - lingered longer - over sentences. I also spent time studying history I was unfamiliar with. With feelings of being small - in my own ability to write a review of this very ambitious historical novel - I needed time to let my feelings neutralized - contend with my thoughts - and locate my ‘Courage Hat’. I’m not going to get this right - but I promise to do the best I can.My ‘very first’ inner voice response ( after reading “The World That We Knew”), was...."close, but still not ‘The Dovekeepers’".I quickly marked ‘read’ with 4 stars highlighted on Goodreads...., but I think I knew in my gut this was equally valuable to me as ‘The Dovekeepers’. I was just a little ashamed at how much more I had to work - ( I’m Jewish and read many Holocaust stories - shouldn’t I know these basic facts by now?).....THE HISTORY IN HERE THAT I DIDN’T KNOW....which I’m grateful to having learned -many thanks to Alice Hoffman- is NOT SOOOOO BASIC!!!I did some serious thinking for a few days about this book - along with some re-reading of passages and dialogue. I also re- studied historical facts - filling holes in my education. It’s amazing to me how many gaps - ‘still’ - of WWII history have been left behind. At least for me. So....first acknowledgements: I’m deeply grateful to our award winning author. I appreciate Alice Hoffman’s dedication to writing about a remarkable period of history. I appreciate the immediate connection with the characters - her lush luminous prose - the extraordinary storytelling - and for being a real inspiration for me personally in opening my heart in seeing the importance to keep learning.I was not only submerged in the intricate relationships - but page after page I fell deeper into the richly imagined world....pausing to google historical communes and children’s orphanages....( none of which I knew about).Thank you ( and I’ve said this 1 million times before… But I’m sincerely thankful), to Netgalley- and the publishers who have trusted me enough to offer an advance copy to review - and with this book - special thanks to Simon & Schuster’s Publishing team.It was tumultuous times. I asked myself - what was the most important personal goal in a world where evil was rampant everywhere you turned? TO LIVE....the goal was TO STAY ALIVE... to LIVE!!! I thought about every possible successful turn in my life and those in the lives of others. What stands out is ‘somebody’ was FOR ME... somebody was FOR MY FRIENDS.For Lea...her mother, Hanni, was Lea’s biggest allied. The world was black with horror. Millions of Jews tortured, separated by those they loved - many were made to dig their own graves - castrated - humiliated - millions murdered - at the rate of a thousand a day in Auschwitz. WE KNOW THESE THINGS.....YET...ALWAYS HORRIFYING.....felt ‘newly’ on any given day. One of the strongest themes for me is the POWER of a MAGICAL-REMARKABLE - DEEPLY LOVING relationship between a mother and daughter. Throughout all the storytelling adventures from beginning to end....I was constantly moved by a mother’s love for her daughter. This excerpt is soooo beautiful.....speaks volumes: “Night after night, in the trees or in the grass, Lea dreamed of her mother. She heard Hanni’s voice in the wind, in birdsong, in falling leaves”.“I was with you when the roses bloomed with silver petals, when you saw Paris for the first time, when that boy looked at you, when you learned prayers in the convent, when you ran through the woods”. Soon after meeting twelve year old Lea, shy, but highly intelligent, ( and having survived a frightening failed rape intent)... Hanni Kohn, her mother, will do anything in her power to have her daughter protected - which means sending Lea far away from Berlin.....save her from the Nazi regime. Hanni’s husband - a medical doctor - was murdered outside the Jewish Hospital. He had saved 720 souls. After Simon died - it was believed- and hoped for - in the Jewish religion - that “perhaps on the day that he left OLAM HaZEH, the world that we walk through each living day, those who had been saved we’re waiting for him inOLAM HaBa, the World to Come”. Hanni refused to believe that her husband’s life meant nothing. “In Berlin, evil came to them slowly and then all at once”. Hanni was determined that Lea would live and save more souls.....“It would go on and on, until there was more good in the world than evil”.SUPPORT IS CALLED FOR.....Grandmother, Bobeshi, had told Lea stories and told her “to be a wolf”. Lea learned early to rise out of darkness- she became “the flower on a stem of thorns”. Lea learned - from experience- about The Angel of Death. The “angel” took away the evil man who tried to pick a flower ( Lea), and all he got was a handful of thorns....then he got what he deserved: death! Grandmother Bobeshi was sick, bedridden. Hanni needed to honor the 5th commandment- she couldn’t leave her mother.But each day groups of Jews were taken to Grosse Hamburger Strasse - then soon be sent to their deaths on trains to resettle Jews in the East.NOT LEA......Tante Ruth was over hundred years old. Her father was a rabbi in Russia.....called a magician. Her own husband was named The Magician’s assistant. The men studied the Zohar, The Book of Splendour, - holy mysteries. Women were denied the opportunity to study- denied Torah study. However, Tante Ruth learned a lot listening to the men debate. After her husband died ( who knew 72 kinds of wisdom that he learned from his father), Ruth believed in their miracles. It was believed that all creation came from thought, language, and mathematics. Hanni turned to Tante Ruth - a magical brilliant pillar in their small community of Jews. Neighbors didn’t listen to Ruth when the Nazi policies first began to separate Jews from the rest of the population. To fight the WICKED......MAGIC and FAITH were needed. This is how we learn of “The Golem”. The Golem was created by the use of 22 Hebrew letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The Golem can see the future - among other things - including seeing the exact day and time of a person’s death. It can speak to angels. Ruth sent Hanni to speak to their local Rabbi - knowing the rabbi would refuse to speak to her. He would not allow another woman in the room other than his own wife.....however- Hanni was to talk to the rabbi’s wife. The real miracle help came from the rabbi’s daughter- Ettie.Ettie brings forth the creature with mud and water.*Ava Perrin*, ( six feet tall), is the name of Ettie’s creation. Ava, was created to protect Lea, who would follow her to the end of the earth and never abandon her. Ava - made from clay - wasn’t suppose to ‘feel’....as she was created without a soul. Lea wasn’t so sure. Ava and a heron had a special relationship.Ettie was bright as a whip - clever - independent - ambitious - defiant when necessary. Ettie’s mother wasn’t helpful to Hanni- but Ettie was.Ettie wished she were born a boy. Only the most learned person ( such as Ettie was), could use the 72 names of God to bring forth a Golem. SUCCESS....( and Tante Ruth had said only men could bring a Golem to life)... ha! Ettie was exceptional - she was born to fight. She re named herself Nicole Duval.WE FOLLOW Ettie, ( her younger sister Marta died), Lea, and Ava on a long journey.So many men - had been entering The World To Come...OLAM HaBa. - THESE STRONG WOMEN NEEDED TO SURVIVE. I learned a lot!!!!! I didn’t (until this book), know anything about the Huguenot residents of Le Chambon - Sur - Lignon - who made a haven for the Jewish people fleeing from the Nazis. I also didn’t know about Izieu: A Jewish orphanage. In 1943, a school for children opened at Izieu.... a commune in eastern France.A year later everyone was gone. The children were sent to Auschwitz. The French government said it was kindness to send the children to be with your parents. Different police were in collaboration with the Germans and all 42 children were taken to Montluc Prison. Not a single child survived. You’ll meet Julien - a Heron - Dr. Girard- learn of other communes - bombing in Vienna- visit Haute-Loire- ponder over sights, sounds, smells, language, and tidbits of details. Did you know that the German government forced every Jewish women to use the name Sarah after her own name on every official document? I didn’t. And.....most you feel as if you know the main characters - and minor characters well....If you are like me.... you’ll be moved by a mother/ daughter strength that you just might either be a little jealous - that you’re on relationship with your own mother was lacking OR....bask in the special love you did or do have with your mother.A perfect gift to our mother’s who read!!!
    more
  • Nilufer Ozmekik
    January 1, 1970
    Magical realism crashes into folklore, mysticism with heart wrenching Holocaust casualties’ poignant story with well-rounded, fantastically developed, relatable characters could be the best formula and definition of WRITING A MASTERPIECE AND CREATING AN AMAZING PORTRAIT BY USING WORDS AS LIKE SMALL BRUSHES OF VIVID COLORS. I can only do things with my hands: First: I can applause the author for creating such memorable characters stories’ entwined with each other like and writing my second best H Magical realism crashes into folklore, mysticism with heart wrenching Holocaust casualties’ poignant story with well-rounded, fantastically developed, relatable characters could be the best formula and definition of WRITING A MASTERPIECE AND CREATING AN AMAZING PORTRAIT BY USING WORDS AS LIKE SMALL BRUSHES OF VIVID COLORS. I can only do things with my hands: First: I can applause the author for creating such memorable characters stories’ entwined with each other like and writing my second best Holocaust story after “Book Thief”. The other thing I can do: giving five billion stars and applause the author for one more time. A mother’s emotional story about sacrificing herself for giving her daughter a second chance to survive by pleading rabbi’s daughter to create a golem (mystical and powerful creature) to protect her daughter from the monsters hid in human furs. Ettie-rabbi’s daughter- does what she requested in exchange of jewelries which will help her and sister to escape from the country along with Lea and her golem formed in human body Ava.Their story starts with the escape till their horrifying adventure turns into running for their lives and facing to the true nature of hatred, violence, crimes and it finally ends with a poetic, emotional, meaningful way.The writing is like calm and serene river flows between harsh reality and fairy-tales. It’s also tear jerker and heart melting tribute to those brave heroes who helped Jewish people with their secret underground organizations by putting their lives in danger to save more souls and bringing the divine justice to their country. I’ll never forget Lea, Hannie, Ettie, Julien, Hector, Marianne… All those meaningful, heartwarming, intense relationships, their amazing connection and affection that wound your heart will be imprinted on your minds and at your hearts forever. It’s impossible not to feel for them. Especially those Julien words as he is about to lose his faith with for seeing too much violence, ruthlessness in his young age: “Find me before I disappear”And this poetic, splendid, spectacular ending… SIGH! I have no words left to tell my feelings. T1his is my favorite historical novel of the year!
    more
  • Debra
    January 1, 1970
    "...for what good is it to rescue yourself if you leave behind the person you love the most?" I don't think that I can do justice to this beautifully written tale of love, family, faith, resistance, longing, grief, pain, sacrifice, duty, and what it means to be alive. Hoffman's writing is heartbreakingly beautifully, sad, hopeful and joyful at times during this novel- but mainly it's dripping with a sadness so deep it leaps from the pages and affects the reader (at least it affected this reader "...for what good is it to rescue yourself if you leave behind the person you love the most?" I don't think that I can do justice to this beautifully written tale of love, family, faith, resistance, longing, grief, pain, sacrifice, duty, and what it means to be alive. Hoffman's writing is heartbreakingly beautifully, sad, hopeful and joyful at times during this novel- but mainly it's dripping with a sadness so deep it leaps from the pages and affects the reader (at least it affected this reader). She also utilizes Jewish folklore/mysticism and has a Golem as a main character as well. Speaking of characters in this book, there are many in this book whose paths cross, their stories are unique and yet their individual stories have the same theme - loss of family, loss of a parent or parents, loss of a sibling, loss of freedom, and a loss of one's home. ."Heart of my heart, love of my life, the one loss I will never survive." In the beginning of the book, a Mother, Hanni Kohn, seeks out a Rabbi hopping to save her twelve-year-old daughter, Lea. She does not meet with the Rabbi that night, but instead meets with his daughter, Ettie, who has listened to her father for years, and creates a Golem she names Ava who is sworn to protect Lea. "When you have lost your mother you have lost the world." Hanni sends her daughter away with Ava, choosing to stay behind with her Mother who is too ill to flee. Ave and Lea are not the only ones who flee, Ettie and her younger sister flee as well, fearing the Nazi regime and the dangers or the time. Both sets must leave their Mother's behind in hopes of saving their own lives. "Their time here was over, it was already in the past." The young girls/women in this book are not the only characters, there are two brothers, Victor and Julien, who have lost members of their families as well. They are trying to survive in a world where they are unwanted, branded criminals, hunted, and turned away by those they once called friends. "...people always lost what they loved the most." All paths collide in this heartbreaking tale of cruelty, hatred, evil, courage and love. Evil exists in this book as does goodness. There are characters whose kindness and beauty shine through, who will sacrifice all that they have to give in order to save those condemned by the Nazis. Those who saved lives in their own quiet way, those who did anything and everything they could to prevent evil from prevailing, who aided the resistance, who saved as many men, women and children as they could. "Remember when I loved you above all others and you loved me in return." The relationships in this book are wonderful, the imagery dances off the page just as Ava danced with the heron at night. There is something magical going on here. Hoffman has a gift with words and has created a masterpiece. She has created a story with characters having deep and meaningful relationships, having impact on each other and themselves, all the while fighting for their lives, the lives of others and for the chance to be together once again. "Find me before I disappear." Hoffman had me from page one, heck she had me at the note in the beginning before the book started. I found this book to be captivating, heartbreaking, hard to put down, thought provoking and moving. I included some of my favorite passage in this review. They speak for themselves. So, I will simply speak to those reading this review, and simply say read this book.Highly Recommend.Thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
    more
  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    Question I asked myself. All Holocaust books are heartbreaking, Would this book become just another sad story without the magical realism? I think that element made this book memorable, one that stands out, unforgettable. Ava represents a mother's love, someone who is not human, but more human than many others during this inhuman time. I loved when the doctor thought, if one can love, one has a soul. So much evil, so many deaths and yet so many good people that went above and beyond. So many ele Question I asked myself. All Holocaust books are heartbreaking, Would this book become just another sad story without the magical realism? I think that element made this book memorable, one that stands out, unforgettable. Ava represents a mother's love, someone who is not human, but more human than many others during this inhuman time. I loved when the doctor thought, if one can love, one has a soul. So much evil, so many deaths and yet so many good people that went above and beyond. So many elements combined, a heron I adored, showing there are many other species able to love. So I decided the magical realism allowed Hoffman to interject a great deal of love and wonder into a story of a time that represented, hatred, horror, death and loss. It provided an emotional element that went above and beyond. I loved the ending, it was just right.I still want a knight for Christmas and now I've added three angels to my list.My monthly read with Angela and Esil. This book provided much fodder for our discussion.ARC from Edelweiss
    more
  • Paromjit
    January 1, 1970
    Alice Hoffman weaves a powerfully imaginative story of Europe's nightmarish historical horrors of WW2 and the Holocaust, coloured with the fantastical, Jewish folklore, the darkest of grim fairytales, set in Germany and Nazi occupied France, with its Nazi collaborators, the Milice, determined to destroy the brave French Resistance. It speaks of love, loss, grief, heartbreak,resilience and courage in the face of the insanity and monstrous evil of the Nazi regime, illustrating both sides of the co Alice Hoffman weaves a powerfully imaginative story of Europe's nightmarish historical horrors of WW2 and the Holocaust, coloured with the fantastical, Jewish folklore, the darkest of grim fairytales, set in Germany and Nazi occupied France, with its Nazi collaborators, the Milice, determined to destroy the brave French Resistance. It speaks of love, loss, grief, heartbreak,resilience and courage in the face of the insanity and monstrous evil of the Nazi regime, illustrating both sides of the coin, the very best of humanity side by side with the terrifying side of its worst. Hanni Kohn is living in a Berlin in 1941, facing a choice that no mother wants, her husband, Simon, has been murdered, Germany is far too dangerous for her bright 12 year old daughter, Lea. Fiercely protective, she will do whatever it takes to save Lea, make any sacrifice even if it breaks her heart. She seeks help from a rabbi, finding it from the daughter, Ettie, instead. The remarkable Ettie can do what it is said only men can do, she conjures a special golem from clay, Ava, to protect Lea. Hanni knows in her heart she cannot leave her ailing mother, and sends Lea, who doesn't want to leave her beloved mother, with Ava to France. Ettie, too, escapes with her younger sister, Marta, their paths destined to intertwine and connect with that of Lea and Ava. Encountering love, angels of death on earth, white roses, a white wolf, a dancing heron, and help from unexpected places, the unimaginably defiant spirit of the French resistance, there is inhumanity, terror, the madness of evil, and how far the human soul will rise to counter it. This is the story about love, war, about the humanity of Ava, mothers and daughters, family, faith, survival and the unbelievable wonders of the human spirit. This is unforgettable and well researched storytelling, with characters so vividly vibrant, where the magical realism elements simply strengthen the narrative, lending it an ever greater impact. It goes without saying that I recommend this highly. Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for an ARC.
    more
  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    I am not a fan of magical realism and, stylistically speaking, I don’t care for narrative written as a fairy tale. Hoffman employs both. That said I had to consider if this novel works in terms of the author’s intention and I think it does. The mother’s love is palpable, the symbolism of the heron is effective, the research is solid and the ending is powerful. In addition, there are several very beautiful passages. But, the characters are one dimensional and we are told rather than shown which d I am not a fan of magical realism and, stylistically speaking, I don’t care for narrative written as a fairy tale. Hoffman employs both. That said I had to consider if this novel works in terms of the author’s intention and I think it does. The mother’s love is palpable, the symbolism of the heron is effective, the research is solid and the ending is powerful. In addition, there are several very beautiful passages. But, the characters are one dimensional and we are told rather than shown which diminishes the overall forcefulness of this novel about one of the blackest periods of history. Hoffman readers will love this and many will disagree with me. That’s fine. My rating reflects an objective point of view while my comments are, obviously, subjective.
    more
  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    I am not a fan of magic realism. But Alice Hoffman is the exception that proves the rule, as I have loved every book of hers that I’ve read. The book takes place during World War Two. Lea’s mother, Hanni, knows she must send her daughter Lea, away from Berlin. Ava is a golem, a soulless creature created to act as a guardian to Lea. Ettie, the daughter of a rabbi, is the one who creates Ava, thereby linking the three of them. We hear from each of them with their individual stories. Each story rev I am not a fan of magic realism. But Alice Hoffman is the exception that proves the rule, as I have loved every book of hers that I’ve read. The book takes place during World War Two. Lea’s mother, Hanni, knows she must send her daughter Lea, away from Berlin. Ava is a golem, a soulless creature created to act as a guardian to Lea. Ettie, the daughter of a rabbi, is the one who creates Ava, thereby linking the three of them. We hear from each of them with their individual stories. Each story reveals their strength, their love, their humanity, yes, even “soulless” Ava. It’s not often that I care equally about multiple main characters. Once again, Hoffman is the exception to the rule. As always, Hoffman transports us. Numerous books have tackled the terror of the Nazi regime, yet Hoffman brought up things I’ve never read elsewhere. Her research was intense but is woven seamlessly into the stories. Primarily a story of survival, it also shows us the best and worst of humanity. My thanks to netgalley and Simon & Schuster for an advance copy of this book.
    more
  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!A little more than six years ago I read The Golem and the Jinni, (#1) and shortly after that, I read The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope, which I might have struggled with the concept of a man created out of earth and clay more had I not read The Golem and the Jinni, and I enjoyed both of those stories, but this one took my breath away.Beautifully written, this story is shared with just the right touch of magical realism needed to lend it the air of a lyrical fairy-tale set in Ge !! NOW AVAILABLE !!A little more than six years ago I read The Golem and the Jinni, (#1) and shortly after that, I read The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope, which I might have struggled with the concept of a man created out of earth and clay more had I not read The Golem and the Jinni, and I enjoyed both of those stories, but this one took my breath away.Beautifully written, this story is shared with just the right touch of magical realism needed to lend it the air of a lyrical fairy-tale set in Germany and France during World War II. This golem brought to life by Ettie, the daughter of a rabbi, who has overheard her father create a golem once. And so Ettie creates this female being to protect Lea, daughter of Hanni, who must leave Berlin for her own safety. Strict rules come with the creation of such a creature, including ensuring the destruction after a limited period of time. Lea must leave for her own protection, but her mother can’t leave her own mother behind, and so Hanni convinces Lea to go with Ava. At its heart, this is a love story, but it is more about love in a general sense – our love of life, the everyday moments we take for granted, the beauty in the world isn’t always so easily recognized in days like these, when living an ordinary, everyday kind of life isn’t even possible. And yet, even in dark times – and these were very dark times – there always seems to be that thread of love and hope and perhaps most important of all - humanity. There is some romantic love, as well as embracing our love of this gift we’ve been given of life, and how to honor it by honoring the humanity in others, themes that flow through these pages. The always strong, beating heart of this, though, is the maternal love shown through Hanni’s sacrifice for her daughter’s benefit, and the maternal love of Ava, who represents the fiercely protective, nurturing maternal nature of mothers. Set in a time of rising evil infecting the land, this is an extraordinary portrait of the never-ending nature, and power, of love. Pub Date: 24 Sep 2019Many thanks for the ARC provided by Simon & Schuster
    more
  • Carolyn
    January 1, 1970
    This is a beautiful novel with threads of magical realism superimposed on the horror that was WWII and the Jewish holocaust. Hoffman's writing is lyrical and magical as she weaves her powerful tale of a Jewish mother who gave up everything to give her daughter a chance to survive the war aided by the bravery of the French resistance who rescued so many Jews, including thousands of children. The story is heart-wrenching and the characters unforgettable.It's 1941 in Berlin and Jews are being denie This is a beautiful novel with threads of magical realism superimposed on the horror that was WWII and the Jewish holocaust. Hoffman's writing is lyrical and magical as she weaves her powerful tale of a Jewish mother who gave up everything to give her daughter a chance to survive the war aided by the bravery of the French resistance who rescued so many Jews, including thousands of children. The story is heart-wrenching and the characters unforgettable.It's 1941 in Berlin and Jews are being denied basic rights and freedom and forced to wear the yellow star. Hanni Kohn knows they should leave while they sill can but she can't bear to leave her elderly mother alone. She wants her twelve year old daughter Lea to have a chance to escape what is surely coming but can't bear to send her away unprotected without her mother to care for her. She seeks out Ettie, a Rabbi's daughter who agrees to create a magical creature, a golem who they name Ava, to act as Lea's guardian on her journey. With a burning rage for what is happening to her family and friends, Ettie must also leave on her own journey without her family but she is fated to meet Lea and Ava again before the end of the war. With chapters told from the point of view of all the main characters, we see them all change and strengthen as they face danger and adversity but also find kindness and love. They will see Angels on Earth including the Angel of Death as well as a beautiful, elegant heron who plays an important role for both Lea and Ava. Hoffman has crafted a wondrous tale in the darkness of times, one of great humanity and love.With many thanks to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster Australia for a digital copy to read.
    more
  • Emer (A Little Haze)
    January 1, 1970
    This book is simply perfection. I was utterly transfixed by the story, by these characters. My heart feels so full after reading this. I don't know how to put what I'm feeling into words. I know for many people that magical realism can sometimes take them out of the experience of reading a novel. But here... It worked beautifully. The World That We Knew marries together mysticism with a fairytale quality and grim historical reality so that together they combine to create a symphony of purest hum This book is simply perfection. I was utterly transfixed by the story, by these characters. My heart feels so full after reading this. I don't know how to put what I'm feeling into words. I know for many people that magical realism can sometimes take them out of the experience of reading a novel. But here... It worked beautifully. The World That We Knew marries together mysticism with a fairytale quality and grim historical reality so that together they combine to create a symphony of purest human emotion. The book opens in Berlin in the midst of the Second World War. Hanni Kohn knows that to save her beloved daughter Lea from the Nazi regime that she must send her away. But she knows that a twelve year old girl needs protection and seeks help from a rabbi to conjure a mystical Jewish creature to look over her child. However, it is the rabbi's daughter Ettie that ultimately helps her and together they create a female golem named Ava who is tasked with protecting Lea with her life. Thereafter, the lives of Lea, Ava and Ettie become inextricably interlinked and the book follows their journeys and experiences through the Second World War. I simply cannot praise this book enough. Each of the characters touched my soul in ways that I simply couldn't have fathomed when I first picked up this book. Ava... The golem. A creature made of clay with no soul... And yet she had so much more humanity and heart than the people of the Milice (a French militia set up to target the French resistance). How her orders to protect Lea as a mother protects her child evolved into a deeper love is one of the most beautiful love stories I've ever read. This book has so much love in it. So much darkness and horrors... But it's the love that shines bright. I loved Ettie with all my heart. She was so brave, so vital... A young girl touched with so much sadness and darkness who gave her everything to the French Resistance. Her interactions with Doctor Henri Girard were some of my absolute favourite scenes in the book. To see how they both almost loved each other was so painful but also enriching for the soul. Their stories are a true testament to the inherent defiance of the human spirit. And then there was beautiful Lea. A child robbed of her innocence. A child who carried a heavy burden of what she must do on the request of her mother... I can't say more because of spoilers but I just loved the depiction of her inner turmoil. Of how she viewed the world and the values she placed on all lives. And then there were the other characters... Victor and Marianne... Young lovers living each day as if it could be their last. Victor's brother Julien and his promise to Lea to stay alive... Monsieur Félix, Marianne's father, and his quiet resistance and determination...Each of these characters felt so realistic. I ached for all of them, cried countless times. What this book does is not shield the reader from the evils of war nor cheapens the grim realities in any way with the hints of mysticism... But instead, it really informs the reader. It urges us to never forget what people living during World War II experienced. There's so much historical fact and careful research intertwined in this story that it is simply nothing short of a masterpiece. The book explores themes of fear, sacrifice, loss, hope and resistance. But ultimately it shows us both the triumphant nature and the endlessness of love. Highly recommended. five stars*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Simon and Schuster, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review* For more reviews and book related chat check out my blog  
    more
  • Paige
    January 1, 1970
    I have to admit that I was ambivalent about the description of this novel, but I was completely swept off of my feet. From the first line, you are pulled into the world painted by Alice Hoffman. Yes, this is historical fiction with a splash of magical realism; and yes, it is awesome. This book is filled with insightful quotes, and will saturate you with sensibility and nostalgia. From the involvement of the Huguenots, Jewish resistance groups, Operation Spring Breeze, etc., I was blown away by t I have to admit that I was ambivalent about the description of this novel, but I was completely swept off of my feet. From the first line, you are pulled into the world painted by Alice Hoffman. Yes, this is historical fiction with a splash of magical realism; and yes, it is awesome. This book is filled with insightful quotes, and will saturate you with sensibility and nostalgia. From the involvement of the Huguenots, Jewish resistance groups, Operation Spring Breeze, etc., I was blown away by the amount of history she incorporated. I would say that there is more history surrounding the characters in this novel than fantasy. While this novel does bare magic, the story revolves around the setting in history.The fantasy advances the internal conflict within the social setting of Germany and France itself while magical realism vividly paints this picture over the atmosphere of WWII that have never been put into words before. Beasts, angels, and fate contribute to the blanket of symbolism and metaphorical environment of Nazi occupied territories. I did not enjoy when the golem is made in the beginning. The creation itself seemed to unnecessarily drag on and it almost made me want to stop reading. However, it was only for a chapter, although a tiresome long chapter. This was minute and not enough to take off a star. If you like WWII novels, I recommend adding this to your list.Thank you to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster, and Alice Hoffman for giving me the opportunity to read and review this novel. The opinions in this review are my own.
    more
  • Brenda
    January 1, 1970
    Hanni Kohn couldn’t leave Berlin as her elderly mother was unable to travel, but Hanni was determined to get her twelve-year-old daughter Lea to safety. It was 1941 and the Nazis were swooping, removing all Jews, sending them on the trains to the death camps. But the rabbi Hanni saw wouldn’t help her – Ettie, his daughter quietly told Hanni she could do it; she’d seen and heard all that she needed to know. The golem would be created. And Hanni begged Ettie to make the golem a woman, to be more a Hanni Kohn couldn’t leave Berlin as her elderly mother was unable to travel, but Hanni was determined to get her twelve-year-old daughter Lea to safety. It was 1941 and the Nazis were swooping, removing all Jews, sending them on the trains to the death camps. But the rabbi Hanni saw wouldn’t help her – Ettie, his daughter quietly told Hanni she could do it; she’d seen and heard all that she needed to know. The golem would be created. And Hanni begged Ettie to make the golem a woman, to be more able to care for Lea. And so Ava came into being, joining her life with that of Lea and her maker, Ettie.Lea and Ava entered the Levi household in Paris where they came to know Julien and his brother Victor. The maid, Marianne had recently left the household, so Ava took over her role. But danger crept closer, and Ava and Lea once again moved on. Lea begged Julien to stay alive, not knowing if they would see one another again. Meanwhile Ettie was in hiding; the French resistance, including Victor, was operating fiercely, saving who they could; and the collaborators and Nazis did their worst.The World That We Knew is a memorable piece of writing by Alice Hoffman. The beautiful heron, friend and confidant of Ava, would play a significant role in this story, while the mystical Ava, more human than she was supposed to be, was devoted to her charge. The characters of Lea and Ettie were each spectacularly crafted, while Julien, Victor and Marianne all found a place in my heart. I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful story where fact is blended with fiction and magic, while hope, love, courage and loss all play a part. Highly recommended.With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Esil
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsI have such mixed feelings about The World That We Knew. Magic realism works for me sometimes. In fact, on occasion it has blown me away. But I found the magic in this book confusing and jarring, and I’m not sure why. Especially since in many ways this is a very powerful book.The story is set during World War II, and starts in Germany where a Jewish mother enlists the help of a rabbi’s daughter to make a Golem who will get her 12 year old daughter safely to France to live with some rela 3.5 starsI have such mixed feelings about The World That We Knew. Magic realism works for me sometimes. In fact, on occasion it has blown me away. But I found the magic in this book confusing and jarring, and I’m not sure why. Especially since in many ways this is a very powerful book.The story is set during World War II, and starts in Germany where a Jewish mother enlists the help of a rabbi’s daughter to make a Golem who will get her 12 year old daughter safely to France to live with some relatives. The rest of the story takes place in France, focusing on a handful of characters, including the daughter, the Rabbi’s daughter and Ava (the Golem). I loved the parts in which Ava did not feature. Hoffman brings to life the mix of terror and will to live of her young characters. And the writing is beautiful. But, oy, the Golem! What can I say? I struggled with magic playing a role in a story set during such an atrocious period of history. I struggled to understand the Golem’s meaning – was she meant to be a metaphor? If so, representing what? The funny thing is that Ava soon becomes just one of the characters in the book, and the spotlight was often focused on other characters. So I could mostly focus on what I loved about the book without being too bothered by the Ava.But that’s my reaction. I read this one as a monthly buddy read with Diane and Angela. They both loved it, and I’m grateful to them for giving me insight into how they understood the role of the Golem. I didn’t feel it as I read it, but in the end I think I understood and appreciated it more. So take my views with a grain of salt. I suspect many people will love this powerful beautifully written story.Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for giving me access to an advance copy.
    more
  • Krista
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: 5 wondrous starsI finished this amazing book a few days ago, and just wanted to sit in the afterglow of the story before trying to put my feelings about the book into a review. This book tackles a horrible era in world history with grace and imagination. It’s not a ‘La-La-La Happy All the Way’ story. In fact, it’s pretty bleak all the way. However, it is such a wonderfully creative book. I was pulled deeper into its depths with each page, and left stunned by the beauty of the book by the Rating: 5 wondrous starsI finished this amazing book a few days ago, and just wanted to sit in the afterglow of the story before trying to put my feelings about the book into a review. This book tackles a horrible era in world history with grace and imagination. It’s not a ‘La-La-La Happy All the Way’ story. In fact, it’s pretty bleak all the way. However, it is such a wonderfully creative book. I was pulled deeper into its depths with each page, and left stunned by the beauty of the book by the ending. With ‘The World That We Knew’, Alice Hoffman has written a modern classic.I’ve read many non-fiction and historical fiction books about WWII and the Holocaust. This one is so unique. Ms. Hoffman blends Jewish traditions with magical realism to bring forth a golem at the beginning of the story. I was skeptical when I read this element on the book blurb, but this character works so well in the book. I’m glad that it was included. I grew to love Ava as much as each of the other characters. She was not at all what I was expecting a golem to be.We initially meet Hanni Kohn and her 12-year-old daughter Lea as they are trying to survive in a Berlin, Germany that is becoming ever more dangerous for Jews. Hanni will do anything to protect her daughter, including imploring help from the rabbi’s daughter, Ettie to form a creature meant to protect Lea on her journey out of Berlin. The creature, Ava’s sole purpose to protect Lea until the end of the war. We are then taken along on Lea and Ava journey. Not coincidentally, Ettie and her sister are on the same train leaving Berlin that Ava and Lea are on. From that train journey the stories diverge and intertwine again. New characters and situations are added that illuminate the growing carnage wrought by the Nazi’s in France and across Europe. The complete randomness of who survives and who doesn’t is explored. We also meet brave souls who risk it all as Resistance fighters. We see good citizens who help the Jews escape, and Germans who luxuriate in their power and cruelty.That’s all of the plot outline that I’m going to provide. Please do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book as soon as you can. It’s a love story, it’s a war story, it’s a fantasy in some parts, but it all works so well together. I’m standing up now to applaud Alice Hoffman. Well done! ‘Thank-You’ to NetGalley; the publisher, Simon & Schuster; and the author, Alice Hoffman; for providing a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Ceecee
    January 1, 1970
    This is not my usual genre but in the capable hands of someone of the calibre of Alice Hoffman you know it’s going to be an interesting read. This is a very moving story of love and survival. As the cruel yoke of Nazism tightens via the Nuremberg Laws and thereafter the Final Solution in Germany and conquered Europe, Hanni Kohn in Berlin decides she has to save her daughter Lea by any means. Hanni is brave and fearless and she tries to teach Lea to be a ‘wolf’. . Hanni employs all the magic at h This is not my usual genre but in the capable hands of someone of the calibre of Alice Hoffman you know it’s going to be an interesting read. This is a very moving story of love and survival. As the cruel yoke of Nazism tightens via the Nuremberg Laws and thereafter the Final Solution in Germany and conquered Europe, Hanni Kohn in Berlin decides she has to save her daughter Lea by any means. Hanni is brave and fearless and she tries to teach Lea to be a ‘wolf’. . Hanni employs all the magic at her disposal to ensure that Lea gets out of Germany. There is a wonderful image of Hanni sprinkling her coat with an invisibility mixture as she seeks help for Lea to create a golem to protect her and get her out of Berlin. The story traces Lea’s journey out of Germany and into France as she tries to evade capture. At times the danger is palpable, the writing is beautiful, emotional and very powerful. This is a novel about strength and endurance against evil, in particular female strength. All the female characters are strong - Hanni, Lea, Ava, Ettie and Marianne and I felt invested in their survival. The male characters that stand out are brothers Julien and Victor. They encounter things that can only be described as horrific and most of the incidents are based on historical fact which blends really well into the storytelling. The author has clearly researched very widely in order to write this moving tale. This is a wonderfully written story with some beautiful imagery. Who could not love Ava dancing with the heron or the appearance of angels, some protective and Azriel, the harbinger of death. This is a book principally about love - Hanni for Lea, Lea for Julien, Marianne for Victor, Ava for Lea and the heron, Ettie for her sister. It’s also about love of life as the characters strife to survive and help others to do so. The cruelty beggars belief especially the actions of Klaus Barbie as described towards the end of the book. The ending is not what I expected but I liked it. This is a fantastic book which will stay with me for a long time. Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Shuster for this ARC
    more
  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    During the time of the Holocaust...Leah is a twelve year old Jewish girl living in Berlin in 1941. Her father, a doctor, has recently been murdered and she lives with her mother and her grandmother who is old and bedridden. Wanting her daughter’s survival more then anything else.. Leah’s mother seeks out help from a rabbi to create a golem to love and protect her daughter on a journey away from Berlin to France.. as she must stay put to take care of her own mother. The golem, “Ava” is a big part During the time of the Holocaust...Leah is a twelve year old Jewish girl living in Berlin in 1941. Her father, a doctor, has recently been murdered and she lives with her mother and her grandmother who is old and bedridden. Wanting her daughter’s survival more then anything else.. Leah’s mother seeks out help from a rabbi to create a golem to love and protect her daughter on a journey away from Berlin to France.. as she must stay put to take care of her own mother. The golem, “Ava” is a big part of the story (the magical realism) but there are many characters mostly younger preteen and teenagers on the run from Berlin and Paris due to the horrors taking place.This story had some really great characters and some (new to me) facts about these days in history..as other readers have mentioned.. I was finding myself googling a lot of different places, etc.So.. this is a story of evil, resistance, enduring love, and some magic!
    more
  • Erin Clemence
    January 1, 1970
    Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel. Release date: September 24, 2019“The World that We Knew” tells the story and struggles of three young women during WWII. To save her daughter, Hanni knows she must send Lea away, but her mother is sick and cannot make the journey so Hanni comes up with another plan and soon, Lea and her magical guardian Ava are escaping to France. Ettie and her sister are also on the run, and when her sister is killed Ettie Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel. Release date: September 24, 2019“The World that We Knew” tells the story and struggles of three young women during WWII. To save her daughter, Hanni knows she must send Lea away, but her mother is sick and cannot make the journey so Hanni comes up with another plan and soon, Lea and her magical guardian Ava are escaping to France. Ettie and her sister are also on the run, and when her sister is killed Ettie is left to her own devices as she travels through the French countryside, desperate to avenge her sister’s death. Through it all, the women find love, magic and even peace, while they come to terms with their own strengths and talents. Hoffman has taken the war-torn desolation of World War II Europe, and infused it with magic, love and hope. Lea searches for years for the love she left behind, while Ettie and Ava both find love in unexpected places. The novel speaks to the powers that we hold inside us, that only emerge when our situations are bleakest, if we still hold on to hope. The novel alternates so that we hear from various characters in the novel during the same time period. Each character tells a unique tale, each one detailing the grim realities of war and the power of the human spirit. I would’ve preferred to follow Ava and Lea’s story more closely, and had them take the centre storyline throughout the novel, merely for the magic and otherworldliness of Ava and her creation. That being said, the interconnected storylines speak to a deeper truth of all humans being connected by their tragedy and by their quest for love. The characters themselves are full of bravery, naiveté, and strength (that they don’t even know they have), and are likable in every way. Hoffman continues to deliver a powerful message of love and humanity, while interspersing some magic in the way that only she can. The supernatural being of Ava is both brave and vulnerable, and as the story continues, it becomes easier and easier to root for her. The ending, too, delivers in an honest way, providing the bittersweet satisfaction that World War II novels must. Definitely a novel that will make you think, and hope, and love, Hoffman delivers a heart-wrenching and poignant novel on the power of love and human kindness and how it can change the world.
    more
  • Aga Durka
    January 1, 1970
    I don’t often pick up a book with magical realism in it, most of the time I just don’t get it, and because of that I don’t enjoy these books as much I would like to. However, Alice Hoffman’s books are a must read for me, and this book was no exception, magical realism or not. Once again, I was truly captivated with the story and its poetic writing, and I allowed myself to be fully submerged in the author’s world of magical realism. It was a beautifully written story of love, hardship, grief, sac I don’t often pick up a book with magical realism in it, most of the time I just don’t get it, and because of that I don’t enjoy these books as much I would like to. However, Alice Hoffman’s books are a must read for me, and this book was no exception, magical realism or not. Once again, I was truly captivated with the story and its poetic writing, and I allowed myself to be fully submerged in the author’s world of magical realism. It was a beautifully written story of love, hardship, grief, sacrifice, courage, and hope. The characters were superb, and I loved them all. This book is one of a kind, and I think it is a must read for everyone that loves historical fiction and is willing to suspend their disbelief just for a little while to fully enjoy the talent of Alice Hoffman’s writing. Thank you NetGalley, Simon & Schuster, and the author for providing me with an ARC copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
    more
  • Lisa Wolf
    January 1, 1970
    In The World That We Knew, author Alice Hoffman brings her unique infusion of magic and nature to a store of survival during the worst of times. Starting in Berlin in 1941, the story introduces us to Hanni and her young daughter Lea. Hanni knows it's only a matter of time until they're captured and sent to a death camp like the rest of the Jews around them. Desperate to save Lea, Hanni begs for a miracle from the rabbi known to have mystical abilities, but instead, his daughter Ettie offers help In The World That We Knew, author Alice Hoffman brings her unique infusion of magic and nature to a store of survival during the worst of times. Starting in Berlin in 1941, the story introduces us to Hanni and her young daughter Lea. Hanni knows it's only a matter of time until they're captured and sent to a death camp like the rest of the Jews around them. Desperate to save Lea, Hanni begs for a miracle from the rabbi known to have mystical abilities, but instead, his daughter Ettie offers help in exchange for an escape opportunity for her and her younger sister.Etti, having listened outside her father's door for years, has herself grown wise in the art of Jewish mysticism, and uses her knowledge to create a golem -- a powerful creature made from clay shaped into human form and brought to life through secret rituals, whose entire purpose is to protect Lea. Hanni can't escape with her elderly, disabled mother, nor can she leave her behind, so she sends Lea away in care of Ava the golem, to seek what safety might be available to them in France.France isn't exactly safe for Jews either. Finding refuge with the Levi family, and joined by Etti, Lea and Ava are still at risk, and finally make their escape before their new shelter is raided by Nazis -- but first, Lea forms a connection with the young son of the Levi family, Julien. Lea and Julien make only one demand of one another: stay alive.From here, the story spirals out in multiple directions. We follow Lea and Ava from one temporary haven to another, including a remote convent where the nuns shelter the children who come to them, at risk of their own lives. We follow Etti into the forests as she seeks and then finds the resistance, desiring only vengeance. We follow Julien on his own path toward escape, refuge, and meaning. For each, and for the other characters we meet, there are dangers around every corner -- and yet, there is also the opportunity to help others, to find meaning even in the middle of horror and tragedy.Once upon a time something happened that you never could have imagined, a spell was broken a girl was saved, a rose grew out of a tooth buried deep in the ground, love was everywhere, and people who had been taken away continued to walk with you, in dreams and in the waking world.The writing in The World That We Knew is just gorgeous. The author evokes the glory of the natural world, even as the people in it carry out horrific deeds and leave destruction in their wake. There's magic all around, both in the form of Ava, the golem who starts as a mere bodyguard but finds her own personhood as time goes on, and in the flowers, bees, and birds that surround our characters and interact with them in unexpected ways.Every now and then a crow would soar past with a gold ring or coat button in its beak, a shiny souvenir of murder.The characters are lovely and memorable. I especially loved Ava, but it's also wonderful and awful to see Lea grow up during war, having lost eveyrthing, but still clinging to her mother's love and her connection to Julien. But really, I can't just single these two out. There are side characters who come into the story briefly, whose stories we come to know before they exit once more, and their stories have power as well. In some ways, it feels as though the author has painted a picture through her writing of all the lost potential represented by the millions murdered during this terrible time.And yet, the book is not without hope. Despite the tragedies, there's still goodness, the possibility of a future, and the possibility of meaning:What had been created was alive. Ettie did not see clay before her, but rather a woman who had been made by women, brought to life by their blood and needs and desires.I don't think I can really do justice to how special and beautiful this book is. The writing is superb, and the story leaves an indelible impression. Highly recommended.Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley. Full review at Bookshelf Fantasies.
    more
  • ☕️Hélène⚜️
    January 1, 1970
    The fact that this was a mix of historical fiction set in WWII which I taught it was about. But, then the mystical part arrived now that took me for loop, I never know the meaning of what the mystical part means in the story. I enjoyed the story but not the mystical part! I preferred the story about the Jewish resistance their underground network LA SIXIÈME Mouvement that helped children, women, men, old people to cross to Switzerland in the night darkness. That part of WWII I had no clue that t The fact that this was a mix of historical fiction set in WWII which I taught it was about. But, then the mystical part arrived now that took me for loop, I never know the meaning of what the mystical part means in the story. I enjoyed the story but not the mystical part! I preferred the story about the Jewish resistance their underground network LA SIXIÈME Mouvement that helped children, women, men, old people to cross to Switzerland in the night darkness. That part of WWII I had no clue that the Jewish community and sympathizer had a mouvement to help them cross safety. Overhaul enjoyable read.Thank you to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster UK/Simon & Schuster Canada and Alice Hoffman for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Lynne
    January 1, 1970
    I would give this book one thousand stars if possible! It is a lovely, mystical telling of the plight of Jews as the nazis invaded France. We know of all the loss and horror, but there’s a lot of love and kindness too. We learn of the resistance movement and the fate of some of their members, and border crossings of many children. There is a lot of symbolism throughout, hint: pay attention to yellow. And many thought-provoking questions. Can those who create us, be the ones to decide our fate? T I would give this book one thousand stars if possible! It is a lovely, mystical telling of the plight of Jews as the nazis invaded France. We know of all the loss and horror, but there’s a lot of love and kindness too. We learn of the resistance movement and the fate of some of their members, and border crossings of many children. There is a lot of symbolism throughout, hint: pay attention to yellow. And many thought-provoking questions. Can those who create us, be the ones to decide our fate? There is so much more. Read this book several times, I know that’s what I’ll be doing. Thank you to the publisher who provided this book to me through both NetGalley and Edelweiss. The opinions expressed here are my own.
    more
  • Anna Luce
    January 1, 1970
    ★★★★✰ 4 stars “Heart of my heart, love of my life, the only loss I will never survive.” The Nightingale meets The Golem and the Jinni in Alice Hoffman's latest novel. Yet, while The World That We Knew may in points thread similar paths to those of many other novels (historical fiction seems to be brimming with WWII books) it is also undeniably Hoffman's own unique creation, one that seamlessly blends the magical with the real. “If you do not believe in evil, you are doomed to live in a world yo ★★★★✰ 4 stars “Heart of my heart, love of my life, the only loss I will never survive.” The Nightingale meets The Golem and the Jinni in Alice Hoffman's latest novel. Yet, while The World That We Knew may in points thread similar paths to those of many other novels (historical fiction seems to be brimming with WWII books) it is also undeniably Hoffman's own unique creation, one that seamlessly blends the magical with the real. “If you do not believe in evil, you are doomed to live in a world you will never understand.” Hoffman's distinctive writing style imbues her narrative with a beautifully rhythmic quality. Sentences seems to smoothly run into each other, swiftly carrying us from one scene to the next, and creating an effect of constant motion within the narrative itself. Because of this the novel is more fast-paced than Hoffman's works usually are. In a certain way it seemed to reflect the turbulent times it depicted, keeping up with the ever-changing war torn Europe, and while I can see why this worked, part of me wished for a slower pace...then again that might have counteracted the sense of urgency generated by the perpetually moving narrative.Hoffman's prose also resonates with the story's focus on Jewish Mysticism and folklore. Not knowing much about certain Jewish practices and beliefs, I was absorbed by Hoffman's comprehensive representation of this faith and its ideologies. Hoffman allows each of her characters to have a different understanding of this faith, one that is affected—for the better or worse—by their rapidly deteriorating realities. Jewish faith seems to be a multivalent and dynamic element of the story, appearing as more than a mere backdrop, a crucial component of Hoffman's storytelling itself. “Hanni Kohn saw what was before her. She would do whatever she must to save those she loved, whether it was right or wrong, permitted or forbidden.” The enduring love of a mother for her daughter sets in motion the story. To protect her twelve year daughter Lea, Hanni Kohn seeks help from Ettie, a rabbi's daughter, as to create a golem, one that will become Lea's guardian. The story will follow Lea, Ava (the golem), Ettie, and two brothers, Julien and Victor, as they attempt to navigate a world which seems determined to erase them and find solace in one another and in the kindness and compassion of strangers. There are many affecting relationships within these pages, familial ones (such as a mother/father-child or a sibling bond), and romantic ones. “Each felt fortunate to be in the company of the other. The reset of the world and its cruelties didn't matter as much when they were together.” As these characters are united and separated, scattered across Nazi-occupied France, they are made to endure loss after loss. Yet, the narrative never entirely succumbs to darkness. While they are negotiating their feelings of grief and despair, they find purpose in helping those around them. Some become part of the resistance (rescuing thousands of Jewish lives) demonstrating their bravery in bold acts of heroism, others perform smaller acts of kindness (for instance Lea's bond with another girl in hiding). Ava seemed to be the embodiment of physical and emotional strength. While she may have been created as a 'stand-in' for Lea's mother, she has her own distinctive personality, one that seems, to both readers and characters alike, to be other-worldly. As Ava experiences the world around her she begins to feel more keenly for those around her. Her new sense of self goes against her very nature—we are told many times that one should not mistake a golem for a human being—yet she slowly begins to gain independence. She forms a beautiful and heart-wrenching bond with a heron and her unique worldview gave us glimpses into the magical and temporarily relieved us from the otherwise brutal landscape of the narrative. “In truth, she felt a kinship with bread and the way it was made, the damp weight kneaded and shaped into proper form, heated until it was set.” Lea's tumultuous relationship with Ava is rendered in a striking manner. Lea's grief and confusion cloud her feelings towards Ava, while Ava slowly loosens the bonds of the role imposed on her by her creator(s).Hoffman conveys with painful clarity the feelings of entrapment and claustrophobia known by those who are forced into hiding. There are many distressing scenes in which we witness characters being killed or taken to death camps, and Hoffman emphasises the horrors of certain parts of her story by juxtaposing them with seemingly ordinary and mundane scenes. We become accustomed to a family (its routine and dynamics), only to witness them being torn apart. The youth and dreams of these characters are hampered by a series of events which presage the horrors to come. As Jewish citizens loose their rights and freedom, our characters are forced to reassess their view of the world and of their own future.In spite of the uncertainty given by their stories, the narrative foreshadows some of these characters' future decision or actions. “Her greatest sin would be committed in the future, and it was one for which she could never be forgiven.” Within her story Hoffman contrasts heart-warming moments between friends and families with the evil carried out by the Nazis and their collaborators. The novel explores the way each character attempts to make sense of themselves in an unrecognisable world.It is a a tale of faith, grief, love, death, sorrow, destiny, bravery, and freedom. I was both anxious and eager to read about the various characters respective journey's even if the narrative anticipated the way their story would unfold. “The past was simply where she lived now, crossing over from on world to the other with such ease it was becoming more difficult to remain in the here and now.” I thoroughly recommend this to fans of both historical fiction and magical realism. Hoffman's melodic prose makes for an emotional reading experience. Note: Thank you NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this before its release.Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads
    more
  • Alena
    January 1, 1970
    “I didn’t yet realize that her life story, the tale of a child separated from her parents, is the central motif of many fairy tales, reaching the most vulnerable parents of our hearts and souls and engaging our deepest fears … fairy tales are perhaps the most autobiographical of all stories, containing the deepest psychological truths.”These truths, set forth by Alice Hoffman in her latest masterpiece, provide a sort of primer for the kind of writing readers will find. The World That We Knew is “I didn’t yet realize that her life story, the tale of a child separated from her parents, is the central motif of many fairy tales, reaching the most vulnerable parents of our hearts and souls and engaging our deepest fears … fairy tales are perhaps the most autobiographical of all stories, containing the deepest psychological truths.”These truths, set forth by Alice Hoffman in her latest masterpiece, provide a sort of primer for the kind of writing readers will find. The World That We Knew is tragic, courageous, wonderfully magical and deeply personal. Its allusions to bread crumb trails, wolves and hunters, as well as heroines and heroes, all feel appropriate to the WWII France setting which was undeniably filled with evil and monsters."That was how evil spoke. It made its own corrupt sense; it swore that the good were evil, and that the evil had come to save mankind. It brought up ancient fears and scattered them on the street like pearls."“Your grief won’t go away; it’s not a door you can close, or a book you can put back on a shelf, or a kiss you can give back once it’s given. This is the way the world is now. Keep the worst things to yourself, like a bone In your throat."As in all great fairy tales, Hoffman creates a world so honest and true to itself that the inclusion of angels and golems feels not just right, but necessary. I am a sucker for magical realism anyway, but few authors do it better than Hoffman. She provides historical and religious context for these suspensions of disbelief; in fact, Jewish mysticism is an essential component of this drama (another win for me).Hoffman is definitely more Grimm’s fairy tales than Disney; she sets her young characters in the midst of dark and confusing forests, knowing they are hunted, relying only on their own cunning, courage and instinct. She has once again created incredibly brave and strong women determined to survive They are not pretty damsels; they are beautiful warriors."Vengeance was just beneath her skin, a shadow self, her true self, the one who had been holding her sister’s hand, the one who ran into the woods, who wanted to learn everything she could be taught, starting now."So it’s great historical fiction with a good dose of magic - that’s a solid four stars. Where the 5th star shines through for me is the deeper theme about what it is to be human. Again, the backdrop of WWII and its presence of monsters provides the perfect counterpoint to the burgeoning consciousness of Hoffman’s protagonists (both human and not). I won’t give away any more, but the second half of this novel took me into an incredibly deep and thoughtful place and I simply could not put it down.“I remember when my mother would do anything for me, when we discovered we were not hunters, but wolves, when the world was taken away from us … when the souls of our brothers and sisters rose into the trees, when we ran through the woods, when I loved you above all others and you loved me in return.”“Fairy tales tell us that we may be lost, we may be forsaken, but there is a path.”I am indebted to my wonderful friend Maureen who secured an autographed ARC inscribed to me. She knows how much I love Alice Hoffman and knew I wouldn’t want to wait for September. Book friends are the best friends.
    more
  • Glenda
    January 1, 1970
    Five stars for sure. This was a beautiful book. Even throughout reading about the brutality of the era, unconditional love, loyalty, and bonds between those in need were evident. World War II was a horrific time. Horrible things happened. This book will be hard to read for some. The magical realism is well represented and a genre that I have never explored. I had to stop and research a lot of the book, but I learned a great deal in doing so. I would highly recommend this book to everyone, althou Five stars for sure. This was a beautiful book. Even throughout reading about the brutality of the era, unconditional love, loyalty, and bonds between those in need were evident. World War II was a horrific time. Horrible things happened. This book will be hard to read for some. The magical realism is well represented and a genre that I have never explored. I had to stop and research a lot of the book, but I learned a great deal in doing so. I would highly recommend this book to everyone, although it will no be for everyone. You may see my reviews at www.travereadlove.blogI want to thank Netgalley, the Publisher and Ms. Hoffman for an opportunity to read this ebook in exchange for my honest review. All opinions here are my own.
    more
  • Corinne Edwards
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars, rounded upWhat would you do to save your child? If you, like Hanni in Berlin in 1941, knew that your 12 year old daughter could never survive the onslaught that your gut tells you is coming, would you be brave enough to send her away? Could you send her alone? Or would you, like Hanni, find a way to ensure a protector for her, whatever the price? The path that Lea, Hanni's daughter, must take to make it safely to end of the war will lead her through Paris streets and countryside conve 4.5 stars, rounded upWhat would you do to save your child? If you, like Hanni in Berlin in 1941, knew that your 12 year old daughter could never survive the onslaught that your gut tells you is coming, would you be brave enough to send her away? Could you send her alone? Or would you, like Hanni, find a way to ensure a protector for her, whatever the price? The path that Lea, Hanni's daughter, must take to make it safely to end of the war will lead her through Paris streets and countryside convents, beekeeper's cottages and the terror of not even being sure you are worth the sacrifice that's been made.Lea is not the only main character in this story, but she is a thick strand of color in a tapestry made by people trying to survive, people trying to love, people bent on revenge and, in this story, even one that's not really a person at all. If you like your stories with magical realism - if you like the world to have a spark of life that's all its own, with animals and angels and the fates having a mind of their own, then this story of love and survival in the midst of war is for you. It touched my heart, it hurt me, the emotions of this story rang true. I liked that it was a twist on the World War 2 Novel and I liked that faith could make magic. In my mind, I can still see some of the images that Hoffman created and for a story set in a time of such horror, the ones for me that really stick out are the ones were she has laid bare our humanity and made us want to grasp it with both hands.
    more
  • Mandi1082
    January 1, 1970
    Its 1941 and the Nazi's are invading Berlin. Hanni Kohn sends her daughter away to save her from the Nazi Regime. Ettie a rabbi's daughter runsaway from home to save herself from the Nazi Regime and Ava who is a Jewish Mystical creature created to keep Lea safe. I loved this book. I usually do not pick up a book with magical realism because it's not for me but this only had a tad bit in it. The flow of the story worked so well for me that I finished it quickly. This story broke my heart over and Its 1941 and the Nazi's are invading Berlin. Hanni Kohn sends her daughter away to save her from the Nazi Regime. Ettie a rabbi's daughter runsaway from home to save herself from the Nazi Regime and Ava who is a Jewish Mystical creature created to keep Lea safe. I loved this book. I usually do not pick up a book with magical realism because it's not for me but this only had a tad bit in it. The flow of the story worked so well for me that I finished it quickly. This story broke my heart over and over again into tiny little pieces. Some of the characters we meet and their back story oh my heart couldn't handle it. This story is written beautifully and wondered how the author was going to end it. Great job!THANK YOU Netgalley and Simon & Shuster for providing and ARC of The World That We Knew By Alice Hoffman
    more
  • Marianne
    January 1, 1970
    The World That We Knew is the twenty-eighth stand-alone novel by best-selling American author, Alice Hoffman. By 1941, life is difficult and dangerous for Jews living in Berlin. Widow Hanni Kohn knows they must escape, but her mother’s paralysis means she can’t leave. To send her beloved twelve-year-old daughter, Lea alone to family in Paris would be folly, so she uses her last resort, precious family jewels, to pay for a protector. Ettie is the eldest daughter of a rabbi, and has surreptitiousl The World That We Knew is the twenty-eighth stand-alone novel by best-selling American author, Alice Hoffman. By 1941, life is difficult and dangerous for Jews living in Berlin. Widow Hanni Kohn knows they must escape, but her mother’s paralysis means she can’t leave. To send her beloved twelve-year-old daughter, Lea alone to family in Paris would be folly, so she uses her last resort, precious family jewels, to pay for a protector. Ettie is the eldest daughter of a rabbi, and has surreptitiously absorbed his teachings and rituals. When her mother unreservedly refuses to help Hanni, Ettie claims to know how to create a golem. Her price: passage on the night train to Paris for her sister Marta and herself. The golem that the women create is unlike any other: a woman whose only mission is to keep Lea safe. But a golem which exists too long becomes too powerful, and when Lea later learns what she must ultimately do, she is torn.In Paris, Lea and her “cousin”, Ava join the household of Professor Andre Levi, whose maid, Marianne, has just abandoned her post to return to her father on his farm. Ava’s powers allow her to easily fill the role, but her surveillance of Lea cannot prevent the close connection that forms between her and young Julien Levi, no matter who disapproves. But Paris, too, is becoming unsafe for Jews, and Ava removes Lea to another shelter. Lea barely has time to implore Julien “Stay alive.” Who knows if they will ever see each other again.This is a story that spans the years of the Second World War and ranges from Berlin to Paris to several parts of country France. Information about the golem and other mystical aspects is seamlessly integrated into the narrative. The cast of characters is not small, but many of them connect and reconnect, if only fleetingly. These represent the many real-life brave, generous, ordinary people who had a myriad of reasons to help the persecuted and resist the oppressor.The circumstances of minor characters are often detailed using a small vignette of their lives. Where they encounter Ava, Hoffman uses the golem’s power of knowledge to note the fate of their loved ones and she frequently takes the opportunity to include the staggering statistics about the incarceration and death of those persecuted by the Nazi regime. To make it more interesting, she throws her characters the occasional dilemma. Of course, among the many deaths, Hoffman realistically does not spare all of her protagonists for a Hollywood happy-ever-after. But rather than concentrating on atrocities, Hoffman makes this a moving and uplifting tale by showcasing those kind and charitable characters, giving them a starring role. Readers should be ready for some lump-in-the-throat moments. A stirring and thought-provoking read.This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Simon and Schuster
    more
  • Caitlin Reads
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This was actually my first Alice Hoffman book and I will definitely look to read more from her. I usually shy away from WWII books as I like fun/escape reads but I love stories with magic and read such good reviews of this one I decided to check it out. I was not disappointed at all! This was a really fantastic and well thought out story. A Jewish mother was forced to send her daughter away to save her during th Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This was actually my first Alice Hoffman book and I will definitely look to read more from her. I usually shy away from WWII books as I like fun/escape reads but I love stories with magic and read such good reviews of this one I decided to check it out. I was not disappointed at all! This was a really fantastic and well thought out story. A Jewish mother was forced to send her daughter away to save her during the war. The rabi’s daughter who helped her escape created a magical golem to protect the daughter, Lea. It bonds them together for life and you follow them on a journey of friendship, love and hardship. I devoured this book quickly and would recommend it to anyone. It was a really original story and perfect for fans of historical fiction. The characters were so well developed and Alice Hoffman’s writing was really suberb. Warning: have a box of tissues ready!
    more
  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    January 1, 1970
    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/'She would do whatever she must to save those she loved, whether it was right or wrong, permitted or forbidden.'Said to be a book about good and evil, it encompasses all that humanity is. In a safe world where we don’t have to face choices between life and death, nor chose to side with those that evil has trained their eyes on it’s easy to imagine yourself as a hero. Reality is a multifaceted beast though, if we’ve learned nothing from history, via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/'She would do whatever she must to save those she loved, whether it was right or wrong, permitted or forbidden.'Said to be a book about good and evil, it encompasses all that humanity is. In a safe world where we don’t have to face choices between life and death, nor chose to side with those that evil has trained their eyes on it’s easy to imagine yourself as a hero. Reality is a multifaceted beast though, if we’ve learned nothing from history, good and evil can live inside all of us. Every choice is the difference between cowardice and bravery, but for a mother she wouldn’t blink at damning herself to save her child. There is a line in the novel that says “A wolf will seldom attack, Bobeshi always said, only when it is wounded or starving. Only when it must survive.” People however, are different creatures entirely.Berlin in 1941 Hanni Kahn, with the help of a rabbi’s daughter Ettie, will conjure a golem to protect her beloved daughter Lea. The golem will remain beside her, guide her in escaping the Nazis. Ava is brought into existence, meant to remain by Lea’s side with no thought of her own being, always to protect her as fiercely as her own mother would. The two leave for a convent in France, Lea will never see her mother again and the world that they knew will be forever changed. It is a tale of magical realism during a time when evil was spreading throughout the world.The rabbi’s wife knows it is the men of the Jewish tradition who can give Hanni what she wants if it is even possible, it is not for the women to dabble in such things, for it takes educated scholars, women are only for bringing babies into the world. With the rabbi’s wife dismissing her, it is the rabbi’s progressive, intelligent daughter Etti who will help Hanni but for a trade, for she too has a plan of her own as desperate for escape as anyone. A plan that includes her sister, jewels and tickets on a train to Paris.All Lea knows is this strong, tall woman named Ava is her cousin and will be her companion on her journey to safety. A cousin she has never heard of until today. She will no longer be Jewish, in order to survive she must become Lillie Perrin. She is to be the link in her family’s future generations, if there are to be any, she must survive. She must say goodbye, for if she lives on so too will her mother, and her mother before her. Setting her child free is sometimes the most terrible choice, the only choice, and the greatest gift of love any mother can give. But this ‘cousin’ behaves strangely, and has an odd encounter with Ettie and her sister Marta, who have also boarded the train. Surely something is afoot, Lea knows there is more to this ‘cousin’ Ava than her mother let on. How can Lea not resent Ava, whom she doesn’t even really know, when it is her mother and grandmother she longs to be with, not this strange ‘cousin’ who acts like a guard dog. Her heart is breaking inside, she never wanted to leave her mother behind, never! But her mother had to remain surrounded by all the demons and care for her invalid grandmother, Bobeshi as their world grows smaller and smaller. Lea will keep the memory close to her heart of their last dinner together, and the beautiful gift (given to Lea early by her mother Hanni) meant for her thirteenth birthday, a day that they will never share. Lea must promise to obey her mother, no matter how much her heart breaks at their final goodbye. Obeisance comes in the form of keeping close to Ava.Something horrific happens on that train, that Lea and Ava witness. Ettie and Marta walk among demons themselves, and Ettie will swallow her sorrow on the run and become many things, to survive. Working her way through the countryside of France, forsaking her orthodox Jewish traditions, waiting to know her fate, whatever it may be, with unflinching bravery. She bides her time working where she can until the time comes to rise, to fight. She must be as strong as the golem she brought to life.Lea and Ava seek sanctuary with André Lévi , a dangerous thing for the Lévi family to take more strangers in with the Germans coming after Jews in the streets of Paris. What is there to do? They cannot turn away these distant cousins. Lea and their son Julien fall in love, much to the dismay of Julien’s mother and always under the watchful eye of Ava. With his elder brother Victor’s disappearance in the night, he is the only son left. Sadly, this is no longer a world made for young love and family loyalty is above all what sons and daughters must first cling to, Lea herself has to understand that. Lea and Ava must journey to the convent if they are to remain alive, there she gives offerings of bread and milk to a heron, comes to the heron with requests. The heron is a symbol of hope and messenger of love.In another village Marianne and her father have always done what is right and saved those in need of rescue. She comes in contact with an old friend whom she had lived with in a Paris house for five years, and he informs her that he has joined up with a group of Jewish resistors and has been living in the forest. Their story will burn again, now that they are together but the blows will still come. Evil will win, but so too will good, it is a never ending struggle on this scorched earth.Magic can save some of us, but not without a price. For there is always a sacrifice. “You cannot hide who you are without doing great damage,” but there is no other choice than to bury oneself. By the end there will be so much lost, bones in a field, tests of faith, love lost and found and lost again, so many wounded souls in need of healing and new beginnings. Will a mother’s love and the creation of a golem lead to the survival of Lea and future generations? You must read to find out.Alice Hoffman’s tales always have a mystical touch that so many fans love, and this is magical realism but without the usual lightness because it a story of such an ugly time in human history. It starts with the purest act of love, a mother wanting to save her beloved daughter. What love is greater? Tell me? Than a mother’s love for her child? There will be loss, evil actions and more hate than we can swallow, history is it’s own horror story. Destiny will have its way with every character here within, and not everyone will survive to the end but it’s their burning hearts, their fight that makes this a beautiful read.Now we wait until Alice Hoffman’s next novel, with hearts full of hope after such an emotional read.Publication Date: September 24, 2019Simon & Schuster
    more
Write a review