I cannot get over the beauty of this book. It may be one of my favorite depictions of World War II since Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. This is a book that is hard to review. It starts in Berlin in 1941. There is a golem, a heron, heartbreak, and wrenching loss. There are breathtaking scenes of love and loyalty. There is stunning detail of real and vivid scenery set against the sweeping backdrop of unveiled history and visionary magical realism. Since finishing it, I have gone to it again and again. There is always one book each season that strikes to the core, and this is that book. It is a gift like no other.
October 2019 Indie Next List
“Alice Hoffman, author of numerous novels—The Dovekeepers, The Marriage of Opposites, and The Museum of Extraordinary Things, among others—does her magic again with The World That We Knew. This is a story of great love and loss, a story of strong characters who, with heartfelt courage, save others by risking their own lives. The reader is taken on a journey of the world that once was—of memories of a past tainted by hatred during WWII. Alice Hoffman’s writing is passionate, poetic, and profound. This novel captivated me from the start and left me spellbound. A must-read!”
— Mollie Loughlin, The Book Vine, Cherokee, IA
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * LONGLISTED FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL
On the brink of World War II, with the Nazis tightening their grip on Berlin, a mother’s act of courage and love offers her daughter a chance of survival.
“[A] hymn to the power of resistance, perseverance, and enduring love in dark times…gravely beautiful…Hoffman the storyteller continues to dazzle.” —THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
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. Her desperation leads her to Ettie, the daughter of a rabbi whose years spent eavesdropping on her father enables her to create a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Hanni’s daughter, Lea. Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked.
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.
About the Author
Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The World That We Knew, Practical Magic, The Rules of Magic, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on Earth,The Red Garden, The Dovekeepers,The Museum of Extraordinary Things, The Marriage of Opposites, and Faithful. She lives near Boston.