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House on Endless Waters

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  99 ratings  ·  59 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
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Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: January 7th 2020 by Atria Books (first published April 2016)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  99 ratings  ·  59 reviews


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Christine
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
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Annette
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
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Dave
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
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
FULL REVIEW WILL BE ON JANUARY 8, 2020.

Never go back to Amsterdam were words Yoel’s mother drilled into him, but she would never tell why.

Yoel goes because he needs to.

We follow Yoel as he moves around Amsterdam in hopes of finding anything that will help him discover who he is.

Historical fiction fans will devour this book and the marvelous research Ms. Elon did with Amsterdam's history and part in WWII.

The writing and story line are absolutely mesmerizing and beautiful as well as heartbreaking.
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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
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Christine
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
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Toni
Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, arc, fiction
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
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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.
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
Cat
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
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Rose
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
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Ellen
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.
Barbara
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.
Bonnye Reed
Aug 30, 2019 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Netgalley
pub date Jan 7, 2020
Atria Books
Kim
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book has a brilliance about it. There is a moment where you just can’t help but go “AHA”. The author lives his plot through all the murk, confusion, and hatred that is nazism in WW II Holland. I started out being totally disconnected from this story and where it was going and in a thunderclap I became so connected I totally got it and knew where it was going and that was the brilliance.

Yoel Blum is a writer, born in Holland, who lives in “the Israeli reality” and because of this all his
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Lynn
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
It all began with a picture.

Yoel Blum is in Amsterdam. He is an author of "stories about characters which tell about Man wherever he breathes, about Man wherever he loves, about Man wherever he yearns." He and his wife, Bat-Ami, are in the Jewish Historical Museum, when a looping reel of photos flashes on the wall and his heart stops. A shot of a young family: a man, a woman, him holding a little girl in his arms, and she a baby boy in hers. In that fleeting moment, Yoel managed to discern that
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Sheri Melnick
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Elon (If You Awaken Love) takes an author on a journey into the past as he travels to his birthplace of Amsterdam and sees a photograph of his mother taken decades before. Israeli author Yoel Blum journeys to Amsterdam at the request of his publisher, though his deceased mother had told him never to visit the city of his birth. He and his wife, Bat-Ami, visit the Jewish Historical Museum and view black and white film clips, which include a clip of his mother holding a baby. Yoel instantly ...more
Gia
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Yoel Blum travels to Amsterdam for his Dutch book translation. By visiting Amsterdam, he breaks a promise to his mother who has passed away some time ago. While visiting a local museum with his wife, Yoel views an old faded movie clip. He is stunned to recognize someone in the short, archival trailer and finds himself overwhelmed with a need to explore what he has seen.

Unable to accept it as coincidence, Yoel is convinced that he was meant to see the old film and sets out on an unexpected quest
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TJ
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a most interesting and sometimes confusing read. The cons, the book has numbered chapters, but it also switches, sometimes multiple times in the same chapter from what I could recollect as, Yoel’s present situation, Sonia’s past situation and then sometimes it is what Yoel is telling himself he is going to write in his book. I had to re-read or backup many times in order to understand what was going on.
On the pro side, following along with Yoel in his quest to find who he is and seeing
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Jane
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
****House on Endless Waters set primarily in Holland, is the story of Yoel, an Israeli author who discovers that what he knows about his life might not be correct. After seeing a video clip of his mother holding a child that is not him at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, Yoel embarks on a journey to discover who that blond haired child was and begins to understand the lengths Jewish parents would go to try to save their children from Nazi eradication. The author is very adept at ...more
Paula Kaufman
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In House on Endless Waters Emuna Elon has written a lovely and intricately layered lyrical and captivating story of an Israeli novelist, Yoel Blum, who searches for the truth about his family origins and finds family secrets and the truth about himself and the ability to love. Set mostly in Amsterdam during WWII and today, the novel weaves the two periods effortlessly, just as they become woven in reality. It is rare to find a novel that plumbs such depths while appealing to readers who may be ...more
Kati Berman
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was excited to read this novel based on the many five star reviews. It started drawing me in at the very beginning but for me sorry to say, it totally fell apart, once Yoel goes back to Amsterdam the second time. I found it very confusing and disjointed, the constant back and forth between past, present, dreams, imaginings, etc. I never knew what time period the author is in at any one time. I also found strange Yoel looking ...more
Shelby Bollen
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
The beginning of this book is fantastic. It draws you in right from the start and I was hooked on finding out all about Yoel’s past. The short chapters offer a faster paced read as well, which I personally prefer.
The description of Amsterdam was gorgeous and I want to go back now!!
However, once Yoel returns to Amsterdam everything seems to feel a tad disjointed and nothing felt like it really flowed. I loved the Sonia POV but they kept getting interrupted by Yoel reminiscing, which just became
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Natalie
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating novel about remembrance, uncovering and rebuilding. Yoel and his wife visited Amsterdam from their native Israel and find a scene in a film clip at the Jewish museum that leads Yoel on a voyage to learn about the baby in the picture.

Since Yoel is an acclaimed author he uses this period not only to explore his own past but to write a novel about the people and events during the holocaust years in Holland. We see Amsterdam through his eyes now and those of the characters in
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Stephanie
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My thanks to #NetGalley for this ebook in exchange for an honest review. Emuna Elon has presented a powerful, poignant story of love and loss, set in both modern day and the nightmare of the Holocaust. Upon the death of his Yoel Blum, a distinguished Jewish author sets out to discover his family’s history in Amsterdam, a city to which his mother advised him against returning. What enfolds is a very vivid account of Yoel’s mother’s escape from the Nazis, which Yoel begins to pen in his notebooks ...more
Annarella
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm European so I can't say "I didn't know what happened in Amsterdam during WWII" as Anna Frank Diary was something I had to read at 12 and my father was involved in helping the Jews to run to Switzerland.
That said it was a great read that does a great job in depicting a historical period and what happened in Netherlands during the WWII to Jew children.
I liked both the parts the contemporary and historical, I think that the writer wrote well thought and fleshed out characters and the plot is
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Melissa
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very poignant and well-written historical novel set in present day Amsterdam/Israel and in the Holocaust in Amsterdam. The main character is an Israeli author who finds out a family secret regarding the impact on the family. He sets his latest novel in that time and bases his characters on his friends and family. Very beautifully written and even though it switches between his characters in Amsterdam in the Holocaust and his current familial life it is not fractured or choppy or difficult to ...more
Linda
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most remarkable books I have ever read pertaining to the holocaust. It is a poignant, heartrending story of a Israeli author returning to the land of his birth and finding a personal story he intends to write and in the process discovering his past his mother never spoke of.

I love the way this story segues between the present and the past as the novel unfolds and we glimpse what the future holds for Yoel Blum as his family saga emerges.

This book will touch your soul.
Janilyn Kocher
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked the premise of the book. An author learns his mother's secret. He returns to Amsterdam to research the story to fictionalize it for his next book. My biggest complaint about the story is the narrative becomes jumbled. It's no longer Yoel, it's now his fictional story about his life, and then flashbacks to his relationship with his mother. It all begins to merge together into one confused state and it's hard to differentiate the characters and time span. Some of the characters were fairly ...more
Jean-Paul Adriaansen
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful and captivating novel.
During a business trip to Amsterdam, Yoel Blum, a famous Israeli author, discovers a rather puzzling and mysterious picture of his mother. As he investigates this enigma, he decides to make this quest the base for his new novel.
What follows is a marvellous story about love, loss, and fear.
The story is situated in two separate time frames in Amsterdam, one in WW II, the other in the 21 st century. As the writer gets more and more information, you feel his
...more
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