The World That We Knew The World That We Knew discussion


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Angela, Diane and Esil discuss

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Diane S ☔ Starting the 6th.


Angela M Thanks, Diane !


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Esil Looking forward to this one! I probably won’t be able to start until the evening of September 6th.


Angela M I won’t start until Saturday, but will try to catch up . Hope you are both doing well. I’m loving our weather- 70ish and sunny. Perfect weather as far as I’m concerned.
Hope we like this one !


Diane S ☔ Ours weather is the same and am loving it too. I've read 10% and not sure about this golem introduction. Hoffman's going to have to sell it to me hard.


Diane S ☔ Take it were commenting in thirds?


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Esil That works for me. It was quite rainy today, but has been lovely until now. We’re lucky given the storm to the south.

I’ll be starting tonight.


Angela M Starting on Saturday, but I’ll catch up :)


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Esil I just finished up to chapter 9, which is about 1/3.

Hoffman's writing and depiction of characters is strong as usual, but I must say that I'm having a really hard time with Ava and the whole Golem thing. WWII was such a horrendous time, and hope and faith can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes for people in such difficult situations, but I'm having a hard time with the magical manifestation of an actual being who protects Lea. The parts I am enjoying more are those involving Lea and Julian, and I'm also curious to see what happens with Heddie.

At least, it's a pretty quick read...

I hope you're both enjoying it more than I am.


Diane S ☔ I was a little put off by the appearance of the golem, but accepting it more now. Along with a knight, I now want three angels. I like the idea of something powerful enough, a physical manifestation of someone unbeatable, and do like Ava. Will wait and see how it plays out, magical realism in golem form. Myth with fact, an interesting premise.


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Esil Diane -- I love the parallel you make between this book and our last one. Indeed, it would be great if our children could be protected by a Golem and a knight.

My daughter just started university this week on the east coast of Canada, and the town she is in is being battered by Hurricane Dorian this afternoon. They just lost power in her dorm. I'm sure she's fine, but I do wish I could send her a Golem and a knight :)


Angela M Lise, hoping your daughter stays safe !
What a storm this is ! So much devastation in the Bahamas and i believe North Carolina outer banks was pummeled pretty hard .

About the book - I’m almost at the third mark and I’ll be back shortly with comments, but I’m loving it !


Angela M I’ve read through chapter 9 and as I said I’m loving it. I loved what Hoffman wrote in the note to readers at the beginning about how the book came to be and her thoughts on fairy tales and life and I think I was hooked then. I couldn’t read the tiny print of the letter on my kindle so I downloaded the pdf version to my iPad so I could.
I love all of the characters .Heartbroken for Hanni .I thought Ettie was so strong from the first time we meet her and I’m anxious to see how she will be connected with the resistance. As far as Ava, I read and enjoyed The Golem and the Jinni. I read another book about a golem (can’t remember the title) and liked it too. I’ll think of it . I’m interested in what will become of her.
Sad for what Lea went through with the soldier and being sent away . Love the story her grandmother tells about the wolf turning white. Glad she has Julien.
I love Hoffman’s writing . Magical realism doesn’t always work for me, but Hoffman makes it work. She did in The Rules of Magic.


message 14: by Angela M (last edited Sep 07, 2019 09:35PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angela M I’ve finished through ch 19, end of Part One . I haven’t been able to put it down. The writing is superb. I love how the chapters alternate between the threads and how the stories connect - the courageous resistance. I loved that Victor goes to Marianne, Sister Marie’s story , the stories within the story- the silver roses, how she incorporates what’s happening at the death camps. The friendship that develops between Rachel and Lea is touching. There’s really so much here .

Definitely have to suspend my disbelief when it comes to the relationship between the Heron and Ava, but I love their story. The message in the locket ! Poor Ava. I can’t wait to read more, hoping Julian and Lea will find each other.


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Esil I just finished chapter 21, which is about 2/3 in.

You like it far more than I do, Angela. I felt similarly about The Rules of Magic. Hoffman’s writing is great and she has created great characters, but I just can’t get into the magic realism. Every now and then, I like magical realism. But for me it doesn’t mix very well with WWII. So I really like some strands of the story and how it is focused on the strong will to survive by this group of disparate young people, but Ava and the heron make this feel like an odd mash up. I might feel differently if this wasn’t set during WWII.


Diane S ☔ I've finished this next part too. Hoffman is without doubt s superb writer. I loved the scene when all the malevolent angels came down, the sky darkened and if it really didn't happen that way, it should have. That scene made me shiver.

I'm still trying to figure out exactly what Hoffman's thinking is in using the golem and the heron. That is would have taken a supernatural force to save the Jews? The outward manifestation of a mother's, desperation, love? The heron? That there are things that happen in this world that we can never understand?


Diane S ☔ Magical realism is used to stress or take the place of something. An exaggerated focus, outward manifestation. I hope to figure this out by books end.

I understand how you feel Lise, but I think using magical realism allows Hoffman to show a different things, stress them more maybe. Another thing I hope comes clear by books end.


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Esil I know what you’re saying, Diane. I’ve been straining to understand her purpose in using magical realism, and I can’t see it yet either. But I like your idea that it would have taken magic to save all those who died at the hands of Nazis.


Angela M I get what you’re saying about the magical realism aspects , but that at least for me is only one facet of the book . There is so much more here - a mother’s love that allowed her as many others to send a child away to save them and the resistance groups - which I think bring hope and life to some .
I have to think about what the significance is overall. But I keep thinking back about what she said in her beginning note about fairytales and life . I’m should finish today .


Angela M Lise , how is your daughter doing ?


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Esil She's doing fine. She said the storm ended up being not too bad. There are many power failures where she is, but fortunately her dorm has a generator going. Thanks for asking!

It's funny how people can have different reactions to books. I know what you're saying about the book's strengths, but I'm having trouble getting past the magic. I'm very curious to see where Hoffman takes us at the end when Lea is supposed to kill Ava. Will the magic realism take over or will she take the story in a different direction? I have a bit of a busy day but I expect I'll be finishing this one tonight.


Diane S ☔ Glad your daughters okay, Lise. Was a wide range event Dorian touched out to be, scary stuff.

I'm curious about the ending too. My two sons are home for the weekend, so family, food and football for me. May not finish until tomorrow.


Angela M I’m anxious to know what Lea will do too. It’s a quiet day for me , so I’ll be reading and writing a review for the last book I read , A Door in the Earth .

Lise , glad your daughter is fine . Diane, sounds like a great family day ! Enjoy!


Angela M I just finished it and I’ve been teary eyed for the last few chapters, realizing how emotionally connected I was to these characters. I really have to think more about what to say. I do know that will be 5 stars for me . It’s one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful books I’ve read in a while.


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Esil I just finished it. I’m feeling very conflicted. I did find the last third very emotional — Victor and Ettie’s death, Leah and Julian’s survival and reunion. Those scenes were absolutely beautiful and did indeed make me teary. But I just couldn’t get into the Ava part of the story. I’m having trouble understanding what the end means.

I’m going to have to give a lot of thought to my rating and review...

I’m glad you loved it, Angela. Looking forward to your final thoughts, Diane.


Angela M I’m almost finished with my review, but will finish it and post it in the morning. I think I was just so taken with Hoffman’s note at the beginning that I just easily accepted the mythical Ava. I was so moved by these characters and how she conveyed the horrors and depicted the brave resistance fighters . I was broken hearted when Ettie and Victor die as I was when Marianne’s father was hung. I loved that Lea and Julien are together in the end and I also loved that Ava became real. I think that was Hoffman representing through this mystical character the strength of love, even in these most dismal of times .

I’ll be interested in your final assessment and Diane, your final thoughts and rating.


Diane S ☔ Ive finished. Questions 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.

Five stars here too, because I believe I will long remember this book.

Will probably use my above thoughts as my review.


Angela M Diane , I felt the same about the representation of love in the dark times and that this will be a memorable story. This is definitely one of my favorites of the year.

Lise, I’m looking forward to your final thoughts.


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Esil I still haven’t landed my review, but I think this will be 3.5 stars rounded to 4 for me. As I said, despite my issues with the magical realism, I was really moved by the end.

Both of your thoughts on what you made of Ava make a lot of sense. Love can save us from hatred — making Ava real at the end, emphasizes this. My problem is that I understand this having now thought it through with your help, but I didn’t experience it as I read it. I really struggled with the magic realism in this one.

So glad we read this together and that I got your perspectives. I hope you didn’t find my reaction too much of a downer :)

I hope to get round to my review soon.

I seem to remember we’re reading Jojo Moyes in early October next.


Diane S ☔ We had different reactions on several of our last reads. If you remember I dropped out of the silver thread read. I think it's sometimes more interesting when we feel different things for s book, makes our discussions more fun. Of course, I like when we agree too. Lol! I understand your reasoning, if you don't feel it, you don't. Have either of you ever read Perla? If not wonder what you would make of the magical realism in that one.


Angela M Lise, I totally agree with what Diane said. I like it when we agree but I also very much enjoy the discussion when we see or feel things differently. Makes for interesting discussions!

Not a downer at all !

I haven’t read Perla but might check it out .

I have the Moyes book on my calendar for 10/5.


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Esil It took me a while, but I finally wrote my review:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

I hope you're both doing well. We're having some really hot weather this weekend. A last taste of summer...


Angela M We’re getting that warm weather too. I’m doing well. Had a busy week . My stepdaughter had some minor surgery on Monday and is doing well. We took the kids -18 and 14 out to eat one night . I cooked for them another . Then I spent 5 hours with my sister at the ER yesterday. She got two bee stings and they got very swollen and infected pretty quickly. They kept her overnight, but she’s home today and doing better. So today I caught up on laundry and other chores. Long week!

Hope you are well, too.

Diane , are you feeling better from the food poisoning and shingles?


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