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House on Endless Waters

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  175 ratings  ·  98 reviews
For fans of The Invisible Bridge and The History of Love, a lyrical and exquisitely moving novel about a writer who embarks on a transformative journey in Amsterdam, where he discovers the shocking truth about his mother’s wartime experience—unearthing a remarkable story that becomes the subject of his magnum opus.

At the behest of his agent, renowned author Yoel Blum
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 7th 2020 by Atria Books
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Angela M
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars rounded up

This is one of those books that I thought I would love more than I did. I am a fervent reader of holocaust stories because I believe in my heart and soul that it’s something we need to never forget, as horrific as it was. We need to continually remind ourselves and each other, and continue to honor those who were killed and those who survived. It pains me not to give this book a higher rating because like all Holocaust stories, it is just so important.

It just took me a long
I selected this book as I knew little about Amsterdam and even less about what went on in the Netherlands during WWII. I did get some good insight on those topics, but what turned out to be even better was the unexpected incredible slice of life that actually was the focus of the novel.

Yoel Blum is a famous Jewish novelist. For reasons unclear to him, his mother Sonia, now dead, told him never to return to his birthplace, Amsterdam, where he spent his first couple of years before relocating to
Dec 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Yoel is a famous Israeli author and he makes a trip to Amsterdam with his wife and at a museum there, they see something pertaining to his past that becomes a real mystery.
This story flashes back and forth from present day to World War ll Amsterdam.
This was very hard for me to read because it was very disjointed and confusing. I wanted to just give up on it a few times.

This ARC was provided by Atria via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Just when you think you might have read every story possible about the treatment of Jews during World War II, some remarkably talented author will produce a book that addresses a new and different experience. Then you realize the variations are endless, myriad, just like the souls caught up in the horrors of the Holocaust, because when 11 million people die, there are 11 million stories that could be told.

In Emuna Elon’s novel, House on Endless Waters, Yoel Blum is an Israeli writer whose
Sep 11, 2019 rated it liked it
The chapters are very short, making the pace feel fast. As the story begins, it pulls the reader in very quickly. But once Yoel is back in Amsterdam searching for some answers and as the story switches between present and past times and him reminiscing about his family, a disconnection happens.

While in Amsterdam, you’d think that the story would alternate in time between his story and his mother or put him on a straight forward search for an answer. Instead, there is a lot of reminiscing about
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Never go back to Amsterdam were words Yoel’s mother drilled into him, but she would never tell why.

When one of Yoel's books was translated into Dutch, he and his wife needed to go to Amsterdam even though he felt guilty about defying his mother’s wishes.

While they were in Amsterdam, Yoel and Bat-Ami visited a Jewish museum, looked at some still films, and saw his mother, his father, his sister, and himself in the films.

Yoel wondered why no one ever told him about this part of his life. He had
House on Endless Waters is a profound meditation on what matters most in terms of identity and the role that family secrets play. It tells the story in two timelines. In the first, Israeli writer Yoel Blum, now a famous novelist and a grandfather, goes to Amsterdam for a book signing PR tour and wanders into the Jewish Museum. His family emigrated from Amsterdam to Jerusalem so it would not be surprising to find some trace of his roots there. And, indeed, he does, but not necessarily what he ...more
Diane S ☔
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thoughts soon.
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a very moving story. Famous Israeli author Yoel Blum had sworn to his late mother than he would never visit Amsterdam, the place he was born and where he, his mother and sister escaped from during WWII. But he agrees to go to appease his publisher and makes a discovery that changes his understanding of who he is. Yoel decides to write a novel based on what he’s discovered. The normal dual story line style of this genre is replaced by Yoel in the present day interwoven with his writing of ...more
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love historical fiction so this was right up my alley. A deeply moving story that pulled me right in. A remarkable read and a great book club pick.

Novels N Latte
Hudson Valley NY
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is my own opinion.I did not enjoy reading this book I felt like a ping pong, it is translated from Hebrew to English. Don"t know if that is the cause but the story did not have a flow.
I likded the base of the story about family secrets and the discovry of one"s past and who they are. Liked the cover of the book too.
I want to thank Netgalley,Simon & Schuster Canada, Atria Books and Emuna Elon for this advance e-copy in exchage of an honest review.
Yoel Blum is a writer who grew up in Israel. However, he was born in Amsterdam. His mother had told Yoel that he must never go back to Amsterdam. She also never mentioned why or anything about her life while living there. After she died, Yoel had to go there for publicity for the release of one of his books.

The trip opened up a Pandora’s box for Yoel. He ends up staying for an extended time, determined to dig up the past and write his mother’s story. What he doesn’t realize is that his mother’s
Hannelore Cheney
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books for the eARC.
What a beautiful, lyrical and moving book this is, absolutely exquisite.
Yoel Blum, a famed Israeli author is in Amsterdam, looking for answers to his past, planning to write his most personal book yet. He was born in the city before his mother, sister and he ended up fleeing the Nazis, settling in Israel.
He stays in a small hotel in the area where he lived with his family as a small toddler, wandering around filling numerous notebooks to use as a
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Elon employs one of the most inventive storytelling techniques I've read in a long time in this moving and heartbreaking story set in Amsterdam in present day and WWII. Saying more would ruin the story and the twist that smashed me at the end.
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

When Yoel Blum breaks a promise to his dead mother by traveling to Amsterdam to celebrate the Dutch translation of one of his books, he does not know what path he has started to trod on.

Blum was born during the Second War when the Nazis occupied the Netherlands. His family lived in the Netherlands. His discovery of a family secret leads to an extended stay in the country as well as discovery aspects of himself that he though long dead. The story is told through
Shocks from the past!

I must admit that I was not as hooked on this book as I thought I would be from the publishers blurb. Whether it was the pace of the story or just Yoel Blum himself I am unsure.
A successful Israeli author, Yoel's publisher wants him to go to Amsterdam for the launch of his latest book which has been translated into Dutch. Conflicted, Yoel does, despite having promised his mother to never return to the place of his birth, Amsterdam.
Of course the first question is why did
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Yoel Blum grew up in a quiet, solemn, and secure home with his mother and older sister. He became an author, and due to his fame, he must break the one important rule his mother always begged of him: never go to Amsterdam. She’s passed on, though, so Yoel sees no harm in attending book signings that are scheduled there.
He and his wife visit the Holocaust Memorial Museum and are shocked to see Yoel’s mother in numerous wedding pictures with her husband and two children, but the baby boy
Oct 04, 2019 rated it liked it
At the heart of this book is a mystery - a mystery of love and loss, family, history, and identity. The mystery begins when Yoel Blum, a noted Israeli author, arrives in Amsterdam, the city where his family lived until the war, for a book tour. During a visit to the Jewish Museum, Yoel sees a black and white filmstrip that, ostensibly, shows his mother and an infant son who is not himself. So begins Yoel's quest to decipher precisely it is what he saw.

At the point, the book constructs itself in
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Yoel Blum, a prominent Israeli writer, had promised his mother that he’d never visit Amsterdam, the city where he was born. But she has passed on, and when his agent persuades him to attend a literary event there at his Dutch publisher’s invitation, he feels obliged to accept. Yoel knows little about the circumstances of his birth, other than that his mother left the Netherlands with him and his older sister, Nettie, during WWII, never speaking of the place where she lost her husband and other ...more
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
The writer Yoel Blum embarks on a journey of self-discovery surrounded by the popular canals of the city of Amsterdam and those lucky readers who have found this precious novel will travel with him.

House on Endless Waters will move you to tears and anger, it will also forever change that idyllic image you may have of The Netherlands. It's a novel within a novel, a gem for bookworms, one of those stories that must be written in order not to be forgotten, a must.

I strongly recommend it to those
RoseMary Achey
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a slow burn to start, but about half to three quarters in the pace picks up and the bond with the narrator strengthens. The author uses a different methodology to tell the story of a Jewish mother in occupied Amsterdam during WWII. Beautiful prose unfolds like a finely pressed linen soft and crisp at the same time.
Bonnye Reed
I received a free electronic copy of this historical novel from Netgalley, Emuna Elon, and Washington Square Press. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read 'House of Endless Waters' of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. This is an excellent mystery and a moving family saga, but in the ARC edition, the transitions between 1940s wartime and the 21 century are not always cleanly accomplished. I am hopeful that in the finished version of ...more
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
I may be in the minority here, but as much as I wanted to love this book, it just did not work for me. I finished it, but only because I wanted to know what happened to the 2 young boys from the 2 families. I just struggled with too many things. I enjoyed the part of the story taking place during the war, but I did not find the part with the Yoel in present day Amsterdam grabbing me. In fact, I found myself skipping over those sections. Beautiful cover and lyrical title.
Wytzia Raspe
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In this novel Israeli author Yoel Blum revisits the town of his birth Amsterdam. When a foreign author writes about your own country that can be tricky as every mistake in research will reveal itself. But this novel is at first a "feast of recognition" as we say in Dutch: the strict border patrol (I am an immigration lawyer and many client complain exactly like Yoel does), the street musicians playing under the arch of the Rijksmuseum, the tall houses divided in apartments along the canals, the ...more
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a wonderful read! Absolutely enjoyed 'House on Endless Waters' and one that i didn't want to end. I am not usually fond of stories that switch from past to present, but it did work well on this occasion. I've been to Amsterdam on several occasions, but my knowledge of life there during WW11 is limited. A well written book that i can highly recommend. Loved the cover, which would have caught my attention if i was to have purchased on line or a book store.

My thanks to Netgalley and the
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The House on Endless Waters by Emuna Elon is a book composed of short chapters. Yoel is a writer who travels to Amsterdam for an upcoming book where he goes to a Holocaust museum and finds a picture of his mother, father, sister, and a little boy who isn't him. Thus begins Yoel's search to find out the truth of the little boy and himself as well.

This is my first Emuna Elon book and it will not be my last. I loved this book. I highly recommend it.

I would like to thank Netgalley and the
Nov 14, 2019 rated it liked it
There was much depth to the story of Yoel Blum, an Israeli writer seeking the truth of his past , as a Jew in WWII in Amsterdam, however it fell a bit short of the mark for me. The device of alternating between Yoel in the present with the story of his mother Sonia, and the De Lange family, was complex and confusing. Yoel’s relationship with his grandson, Tal, was the only redeeming, hopeful part of the story. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC, but this was a difficult read for sure.
Jan 14, 2020 marked it as dnf
While the short chapters encouraged me to continue reading, I couldn't get past the main character, who seems to be an arrogant, privileged and self-centered author. His personality was insufferable, and after reading some reviews that mentioned most of the novel is taken up by his reminiscing, I decided I should just put it down. While the story of his mother might have been interesting, I couldn't get past the barrier his personality imposed.
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 rounding up because so many times I became stock still and could feel my breath falter. Beautifully written, haunting, there can never be too many stories from the holocaust. Everytime I read another book I am still struck with the horrors, and frankly, that same hatred back then is rattling our shores now, I pray we never ever relive those times, we must fight hard for lasting change.
Susan Lindemulder
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
I had to finally put this book down as I was getting frustrated with it. While the writer was eloquent in descriptions, the "plot" was hard to follow as it went back and forth between present, past and the main character's writings. It is my hope to one day pick up the book and try again. The book received good reviews but I found it difficult to read.
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