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Publisher's Summary

Audio bonus! The audio download edition includes an exclusive interview with Alice Hoffman and Judith Light!

New York Times Best Seller

Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal

On the brink of World War II, with the Nazis tightening their grip on Berlin, a mother’s act of courage and love offers her daughter a chance of survival. 

“[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 Book Review)

At the time when the world changed, Hanni Kohn knows she must send her 12-year-old daughter away to save her from the Nazi regime. Her desperation leads her to Ettie, the daughter of a rabbi whose years spent eavesdropping on her father enables her to create a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Hanni’s daughter, Lea. 

Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked. 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. 

©2019 Alice Hoffman (P)2019 Simon & Schuster Audio

Critic Reviews

"Judith Light's intensely dramatic narration suits the subject matter well. She delivers the dialogue passionately, and the narrative is brisk and sharp.... 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." (AudioFile Magazine)

What listeners say about The World That We Knew

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful

Alice Hoffman's magical words and Judith Light's beautiful voice made my listening experience transcendent.Thank you

12 people found this helpful

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A fan of Alice

I've been reading Alice Hoffman for many many years and have read most books she's written, Her story lines are always deep and leave one with a closeness to each character. This was no disappointment but a tough read. After having visited Dachau as a teenager it brought back memories of the darkness I witnessed there. I wept for the characters and the population of Jews and non-Jews who were slaughtered by the German soldiers. Thank you Alice!

11 people found this helpful

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Not Her Best

“Burn for eternity” is not a Jewish concept and was a silly reference. Saying the Golem “has to be activated” is using a very modern turn of phrase for a story set in the 1940’s. Having a Golem with no soul “bow head to pray” makes no sense. These are just three examples of bad writing. The story was difficult to follow and the book was a slog to finish.

For a brilliant interpretation of the myth, try “The Golem and the Jinni” instead. This one was a waste of time.

Normally, Judith Light could make a decent narrator but her staccato speech patterns for some character voices were irritating. Better to stay with her own voice and just read.

18 people found this helpful

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Beautifully poetic

I loved this book. It evokes all the emotions. Beautifully poetic. I highly recommend. So glad to have listened.

5 people found this helpful

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weird sound

I tried to get into this book on the separate occasions. Unfortunately, I didn't find the narrator engaging. The volume of the speech made it difficult to stay at a steady level. i was constantly having to adjust.

4 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

Just ending the book I realize I have never been moved so much. The words of Alice Hoffman and the narration by Judith Light is a brilliant marriage of talent.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great book, poor narration

I loved Alice Hoffman’s new book and particularly couldn’t put it down in the last third of the book. Her writing is filled with imagery and magic and her storytelling is unique.

I did NOT like Judith Light’s narration. Though she is a wonderful actress, her reading had many flaws. First her command of German and French and Hebrew was not good and I especially did not like it when she changed her voice for characters. Not my favorite audible book. I finally increased the speed of
her reading to move it along.

4 people found this helpful

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This black magic was so real

This is one of those books that you'll find yourself sitting in the garage listening to the end of the chapter. I was so taken by this book. The decisions that parents had to make during WWII are heart-breaking and the way Hoffman describes that pain brings it even more to light than any other WWII book has.

3 people found this helpful

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Breathtaking.

I can not even come up with the words of how lovely this was. Creating the Golom might have been one of the most magical sequences I have heard....

2 people found this helpful

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Hoffman's best

Holocaust. Magic. Love. Humans and spirits. Good and Evil. The power of love to transform.

1 person found this helpful