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The World That We Knew

A Novel
Narrated by: Judith Light
Length: 10 hrs and 8 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4.5 out of 5 stars (59 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Dovekeepers and The Marriage of Opposites comes Alice Hoffman’s darkly magical story of in a heartbreaking time of war when men became monsters, children navigated a world without parents, and women were willing to sacrifice everything for those they loved.

In Berlin, at the time when the world changed forever, Hanni Kohn knows she has to send her 12-year-old daughter away to save her from the Nazi regime. Turning to an old woman who is familiar with Jewish magic, she finds her way to the daughter of a rabbi who creates a Golem, a mystical Jewish creature sworn to protect Hanni’s precious daughter Lea.

Lea’s journey with the Golem to France is fraught with danger and raw emotion. They travel from Paris, where Lea meets her soulmate, to a convent in western France known for its silver roses, to a mountaintop village where 3,000 Jews were saved, to a farm where the bees never forgive.

What does it mean to lose your mother? What makes a family? How is it possible to survive cruelty and continue to love? In a life that is as unreal as a fairytale, Alice Hoffman’s The World That We Knew takes us on a journey of loss and resistance, good and evil, the fantastical and the mortal, to a place where all roads lead past the angel of death and love is never-ending.

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

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  • Phyllis
  • Glendale, WI, United States
  • 10-05-19

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jan K
  • Massachusetts, USA
  • 10-13-19

Hard to Follow

Maybe better for a (literal) read than as audio - lots of details, and I found it hard to follow the story line. Couldn’t finish it.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Everything I had hoped for in Hoffman

I loved The Dove Keepers and mourned when it was over. This was just as I had hoped. A beautiful story. Wonderful narration. Perfection.

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  • Jamie
  • Morro Bay, California
  • 10-08-19

returned on chapter 3

I can't get past the contempt in the narrator's voice. I dont need that hiss in my head all the time. I love Alice Hoffman but a couple of her narrator choices are unfortunate. One can tell a sad, oppressive story without such negativity grating every word. i guess I'll never hear this story.

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Spellbinding!

Normally I don’t care for paranormal or surreal characters or stories. But this book is amazing and beautiful. And I am always drawn to the subject of the French Resistance.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Excellent

So beautifully written, this engaging story will give you characters to remember long after you finish the book. Definitely 5 stars.