Only a genius like Alice Hoffman could delve into one of the darkest times of history and find a remarkable story about the human capacity for love. Just as France is falling to the Germans in 1941, a mother is driven by desperation to make a selfless and heartbreaking decision, forever intertwining the lives of three young women and one magical creature. Ava is a golem. She appears human, but she isn’t, and her only reason for existence is to keep Death from claiming the soul of one Jewish girl. Amid the devastation of the war, Hoffman’s latest is filled with magic, unexpected romance, and impossible choices. In addition, she asks us to look inward at our own perceptions about immigrants. Ultimately, I loved this book for the courage of characters who undermined the Nazi’s power, a reminder that people are still capable of acting with compassion and bravery even when doing so puts their own lives at risk. Long-time Alice Hoffman fans will feel right at home, and new readers will immediately want to look for all of her other titles!— Jenny Chou
Alice Hoffman is coming to the JCC on Thursday, September 26, 7 pm. Tickets are $25 for one person, $35 for a couple. Includes a copy of The World That We Knew. More info at ccmilwaukee.org/arts-ideas/alicehoffman/.— Boswell Book Company
October 2019 Indie Next List
“Alice Hoffman, author of numerous novels—The Dovekeepers, The Marriage of Opposites, and The Museum of Extraordinary Things, among others—does her magic again with The World That We Knew. This is a story of great love and loss, a story of strong characters who, with heartfelt courage, save others by risking their own lives. The reader is taken on a journey of the world that once was—of memories of a past tainted by hatred during WWII. Alice Hoffman’s writing is passionate, poetic, and profound. This novel captivated me from the start and left me spellbound. A must-read!”
— Mollie Loughlin, The Book Vine, Cherokee, IA
This instant New York Times bestseller and longlist recipient for the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medal takes place in 1941, during humanity’s darkest hour, and follows three unforgettable young women who must act with courage and love to survive.
“[A] hymn to the power of resistance, perseverance, and enduring love in dark times…gravely beautiful…Hoffman the storyteller continues to dazzle.” —THE NEW YORK TIMES
“Oh, what a book this is! Hoffman’s exploration of the world of good and evil, and the constant contest between them, is unflinching; and the humanity she brings to us—it is a glorious experience.” —ELIZABETH STROUT, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Olive Kitteridge
“Alice Hoffman’s new novel will break your heart, and then stitch it back together piece by piece. It’s my new favorite Hoffman book.” —JODI PICOULT, New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things and A Spark of Light
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. Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked.
Lea and Ava travel from Paris, where Lea meets her soulmate, to a convent in western France known for its silver roses; from a school in a mountaintop village where three thousand Jews were saved. Meanwhile, Ettie is in hiding, waiting to become the fighter she’s destined to be.
What does it mean to lose your mother? How much can one person sacrifice for love? In a world where evil can be found at every turn, we meet remarkable characters that take us on a stunning journey of loss and resistance, the fantastical and the mortal, in a place where all roads lead past the Angel of Death and love is never ending.
About the Author
Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The World That We Knew, The Rules of Magic, The Marriage of Opposites, Practical Magic, The Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on Earth, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, and The Dovekeepers. She lives near Boston.
'Hoffman works her magic once again in this unique audiobook. Judith Light's intensely dramatic narration suits the subject matter well. She delivers the dialogue passionately, and the narrative is brisk and sharp. Set in Europe during WWII, this unconventional story traces the steps of women so desperate that they are driven to create a golem to serve as a protector. The magical elements seem perfectly realistic as revealed in Light's driving, theatrical delivery. It doesn't take long for the listener to get pulled into this other realm, eager to keep up with Light's narrative pace. The audiobook lays bare the essentials of love and evil, sacrifice and mortality, for contemplation."
— AudioFile Magazine