Ms Hoffman used a lot of ingenuity and historical facts in writing this novel. I give her high praise for creating and intertwining the stories of Mariane, Lea, Ettie, Ava, Julien and Victor during the roundup and extermination of Jewish people during WW2. Many horrors of the war revealed and relieved making it very realistic. A touch of the supernatural adds to the power of good superseding self interest and more importantly, evil.
Alice Hoffman masterfully combines Jewish folklore with the horrifying reality of life (and death) during the Shoah. Her best work to date imo. Highly recommended given the times we live in.
“Monsters exist, but they are to few in number to be dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.”
Historical fiction with a touch of Jewish mysticism which centers around the French and German Jewish children hidden in the north of France during WW2. I was left breathless after reading this book. One can’t help but become emotionally attached to the characters. The author explores what drives human survival in an evil and shattered world; while, at the same time, a world full of grace and beauty. In the end, it is the essence of love that upholds us.
As a longtime fan of Alice Hoffman’s magical realism, in my humble opinion, this is her masterpiece. Exquisite and timely...read it!
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."
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