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Beautiful historical fiction, mixed with a touch of Judaic mysticism, The World That We Knew is the compelling story of how connected individuals survived the horrors of World War II in Europe.
Loved the beauty of the written word, the soul of the characters, the faith of the noble minded.
I get absorbed in Alice Hoffman novels, this one has left me with a heavy heart. The horrors of war in Europe repeat themselves family after family- as they did in history of course. She is a talented story teller. I wonder how the world has been able to forgive Germany for the suffering and loss in what is really a short time. With anti Semitism continuing even now- what lessons did people really learn?
Alice's ability to draw the reader in from the first paragraph and hold them enthralled to the last sentence is in itself magikal and this novel continues that tradition. The inclusion of the golem within this horrific historical backdrop takes this novel into the realm of mysticism rarely seen in this genre. This is a story about Love, not only Love of others, but Love of Life itself, even when Life seems doomed. Adroit character development, nuanced plot combined with a gratifying ending delivers another timeless classic from a Master Storyteller.
Alice Hoffman writes magical realism into a story set in Nazi Germany. The mother’s struggle to save her daughter involves a rabbi’s daughter, Ettie, creating a golem to protect Ava. They travel to Paris where a distant relative’s sons Victor and Julien become entangled with the girls. It is a terrific story however heartbreaking.
Best book of the year !! Loved the depth of all the characters , I felt like I was walking beside them as the story unfolded
The character of the golem is an original and fascinating touch. Does not pass the "Valerie" test for me. (I didn't become wrapped up in the fate of the main character). Didn't care for the writing. But that's me - the book received starred reviews from: Booklist, Library Journal, and Kirkus and is characterized by Novelist as "Literary Fiction."
It's funny because I always say that I'm done with WWII novels, then I read another one and think, "That wasn't so bad." I really enjoyed this book. It is complicated with lots of moving pieces, but it is also compelling and emotional and thought-provoking. Personally, I love magical realism, so those aspects enriched the novel for me, and I loved how Hoffman showed people of different faiths working together and threw in some history too with the Huguenot strongholds.
It is sort of a literary The Nightingale with some Jewish folklore thrown in.
Very rare that I give a 5 star rating.
A wonderful heart rending tale of horror and magic.
An exceptional book and the first I have read by this well-established author. I was invested in these characters from almost the first page. Exquisitely written and if I could have read this book in one sitting, I would have. The capacity for love flows powerfully throughout this book, despite its horrific setting in time. Mysticism and religion only add to the depth of the story. One of the best books I have read in years and it will stay with me.
A tender story of survival during the Holocaust. The beauty lies in the loyalty and love between young sons and daughters sent to seek safely by doomed parents and a golem. Lives are intertwined and Hoffman brings a sense of harmony with nature and connection to a greater whole.
In true Alice Hoffman nature, she seamlessly weaves the magical and mystical together into the real world. WWII/Holocaust fiction can definitely be "overdone" - but this is a stunning masterpiece that demands your attention.
Powerful narrative of WW2 women and tough choices.
A hauntingly beautiful tale where fantasy and history blend. The writing is exquisite -- Recommended if you like a bit of "magic" with a WWII story.