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The World That We Knew

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  267 ratings  ·  170 reviews
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 fi
Audiobook, 384 pages
Expected publication: September 24th 2019 by Simon Schuster Audio
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4.37  · 
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 ·  267 ratings  ·  170 reviews

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Elyse Walters
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more

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 dur
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Hettie knows that the Jews in Germany need to leave, but she must stay with her aged mother. She gets the rabbi's daughter to create a golem, Ava, who will lead her daughter Lea to safety. They cross over into Vichy France, where most of the story takes place. Hoffman's trademark magic realism permeates the book, but it's also evident that she's done extensive historical research. (On a personal note, I've read extensively on the Holocaust, and this is undoubtedly the most depressing fiction boo ...more
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
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
Donna Hines
Mar 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, netgalley
In a world full of misery and darkness along comes the mythical creature made out of mud/clay known as a golem in Jewish folklore and helps right the wrongs.
If only it was that easy as it's during a dreadful time in '41 Berlin when 3 women meet trying to survive the Nazi regime.
It's during this time that a mother must forego all principles of love and war and send her daughter off in hopes of salvation.
Meanwhile this 12yo daughter runs into a Rabbi and his daughter whom she feels a powerful conn
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
Come on Alice...please bring back the glorious experience found in The Dovekeepers! (Fingers crossed)
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺
Just when I thought the market was oversaturated with wartime fiction, Alice Hoffman delivers this gem of magical realism. I was invested in these characters from the get go, including, or perhaps especially, the golem, Ava. Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for the ARC. I loved it!
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Corinne Edwards
4.5 stars, rounded up

What 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
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really didn’t know what to expect from this book so I was wonderfully delighted. If you enjoyed PRACTICAL MAGIC and THE RULES OF MAGIC you will also enjoy THE WORLD THAT WE KNEW. Hoffman puts her twist on the Jewish mystical story of the golem.

My heart was captured by all the main characters – Ettie, Lea, Marianne, Ava, Vincent and Julien. I rejoiced in their raw moments of happiness, loved their moments of tenderness, and had my heart broken several times. Good vs evil – an ever-ending strugg
Kristen Beverly
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Love, love, love this book. Such a beautiful, heartbreaking story of love, grief, hope and magic. I absolutely adored it and will be recommending it to everyone this fall.
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
After the death of her husband outside a Jewish hospital in Berlin, Hanni Kohn sets this story into motion when she makes the hardest decision a mother must make - to send her daughter away, hoping she’ll make it to safety. Hanni seeks help from the local Rabbi, but ends up working with his brave and determined daughter, Ettie. Together, the two women create a Golem from clay and water, a strong woman they name Ava, to care for and protect Lea in Hanni’s absence. Ava and Lea take Ettie and her s ...more
Lisa Jablonsky
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are no words to describe how much this book moved me, and how much I loved it. My heart hurts, those fucking nazi's. All I can say for now is Alice Hoffman, the Holocaust, a golem, and love. 'Nuff said.
Jul 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Alice Hoffman though my love for her books is uneven. [she is quite prolific; one can't be expected to like/love them all equally]. This one--not such much. 3.5 but cannot round up--I am [again] in the minority. Perhaps I needed to take more of a break from WWII/Holocaust novels though this is not a bash over the head/concentration camp tome. Rather, it is deals more with other issues such as the resistance/Vichy France, and the plight of Jewish orphans. And, it is one of Hoffman's magic ...more
Tracy (The Pages In-Between)
Thank you Edelweiss, and Simon & Schuster for gifting me an E-ARC in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I rate this book a 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

This is my first Alice Hoffman book, and after seeing her last book (RULES OF MAGIC) blow up on Instagram, I definitely wanted to be one of the first people to read her new book! I did not want to suffer from FOMO again.

I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book. Magical Realism is a Genre that I have struggled to
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
World War 2 with a Mystical Twist
Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced readers copy of this book.
This follows the story follows a group of unforgettable characters, including a golem, during the German occupation of France during WW2. Their stories beautifully unfold and interwine as they navigate the atrocities of the war where the line between life and death is getting thinner and thinner. It’s heartbreaking and moving and makes you question the nature of humanity. Good versus evil. Love ver
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 / 5 Stars

[synopsis] In Berlin, 1941, three women seek to evade Nazi capture. A story woven with ancient Jewish magic, Hanni finds a rabbi’s daughter who is able to create a golem, sworn to protect and serve. Will the golem be able to protect Ava? What becomes of a golem when its purpose is complete?
[thoughts] Absolutely lovely. The reason I will always return to Alice Hoffman books is the overwhelming sense of magic, spirituality, and mystique that she evokes. She writes in such descriptive l
The Book Breeze
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have long been a fan of Ms. Hoffman so when
an opportunity came up at NetGalley to review
this book I jumped.

This book will stay with you long after you turn
the last page. We’ve all heard about the 6 million
lives slaughtered during WWII but Ms. Hoffman
gives us insights into their hopes, dreams and
courage in the midst of a reign of terror. Gripping,
and deeply moving we experience the world
slipping into madness.

This book should be a part of every history class
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Review to follow soon
Dan Radovich
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Who better to write a novel about a young girl with a Golem? AND have the novel set in World War II Europe? Of course it MUST be Alice Hoffman. I am a devoted fan of her writing but not all are faves of mine. THE WORLD THAT WE KNEW is a new favorite. This work blends classic Hoffman elements together into a wonderful tale of strength, love and family. What would/do we do to protect family? Just how far would/do we go? Hanni knows that her daughter is not safe from the Nazi soldiers in Berlin, so ...more
Mandie Welling
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First Impressions: This is written by one of my top five favorite authors, Alice Hoffman. Need I say more? I don’t, but I will! This seems like a very different sort of novel from this author. There is this gorgeously written, “Dear Reader” letter in the beginning of the book that speaks to where Hoffman got the idea to write this book and I truly hope it remains in the final released version and wasn’t just made available to reviewers. Personally, I’ve always been fascinated by this part of his ...more
Jill Abtey
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I did not think I would read an Alice Hoffman novel that rivaled The Dove Keepers but well, I was wrong!!! The World that we Knew is a historical fiction novel set in WWII with a slight fantasy twist that only Alice Hoffman can pull off and deliver a story that is both beautiful and emotional. I have read very few books that can stir such emotion in me. The writing is so beautiful and flows to the point at times I could call it poetic. As I read the final words of this amazing work, all I could ...more
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mothers and daughters, sisters, friends, love, history, and a little magic. All the makings of a good book. And add in that Alice Hoffman style and now it’s a perfect book.
Lea and her mother experience the horrors of being separated when Nazis invade their hometown. Lea’s mother feared for her daughter and wanted to ensure her safety so she goes to great lengths to protect Lea, no matter the cost. Lea’s journey is filled with fears and loss, but she is never alone. Along the way, we meet many o
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it

When it is hot as heck outside and there is nothing cool to do but reading as everything else makes you end up a sweaty mess, it is the perfect day for a speed reader.

I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

In 1941, during humanity’s darkest hour, three unforgettable young women must act wit
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantabulous
The World That We Knew
by Alice Hoffman
due 9-24-2019
Simon and Schuster
5.0 / 5.0

#netgalley. #TheWorldThatWeKnow

Alice Hoffman has shared a very essential and harrowing story of the Nazi invasion in Berlin, in the 1940s, and of The Resistance that helped Jewish people to hide and escape. Not since reading 'Night' by Wiesel, have I been so taken and consumed with emotion by a story about the humiliation and torture of Jewish people, forced upon them by the heartless Germans. The detail is richly dev
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Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The World That We Knew, The Rules of Magic, The Marriage of Opposites, Practical Magic, The Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on Earth, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, and The Dovekeepers. Her most recent novel is The World That We Knew. She lives near Boston.