In Berlin, at the time when the world changed, Hanni Kohn knows she must send her twelve-year-old daughter away to save her from the Nazi regime. She finds her way to a renowned rabbi, but it’s his daughter, Ettie, who offers hope of salvation when she creates a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Lea. From New York Times-bestselling author Alice Hoffman.
WWII fiction has glutted the market, but Hoffman’s unique brand of magical realism and the beautiful, tender yet devastating way she explores her subject make this a standout. Her settings, from Berlin to an isolated mountain village and a French convent, as well as every character are fully and vibrantly realized. Hoffman’s use of a folkloric aspect adds a distinctive and captivating perspective to an exceptionally voiced tale of deepest love and loss.
Ms. Hoffman’s remarkable achievement is her innate ability to balance large events of history with intimate personal stories. This includes unforgettable vignettes of many secondary characters ... The World That We Knew is constantly imbued with the terrifying atmosphere of impending doom. But it is also suffused with the everlasting hope of survival grounded in the profound desire for enduring love. Ms. Hoffman conjures an alluring novel that lingers long after it’s read.
Alice Hoffman’s signature magical realism and lyrical chiaroscuro writing enhance The World That We Knew, a moving story of love and loss and resilience in the face of immense tragedy. As in her rich historical novel of the Masada, The Dovekeepers, Hoffman doesn’t shy away from war’s horrors, but her characters, especially Ava, are keenly aware of the beauties of the natural world and the small pleasures of the everyday ... a dark and lovely fable.