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The World That We Knew

by Alice Hoffman

Family Drama Historical Fiction Relationship Stories Star Books

LoveReading View on The World That We Knew

This moving, thoughtful, and expressive historical novel walked into my heart with deep empathy, and more than a hint of fantasy. Set during the Second World War, between 1941 and 1944, The World We Knew explores the nature of war, anti-Semitism, and what people can become when faced with the hardest of choices. When Hanni Kohn approaches her rabbi to help save her 12 year old daughter from the Nazi regime, assistance comes from the least likely of places. The first chapter, stark, urgent, and compelling was so intense I almost stopped breathing. As the chapter came to a close I sat for a moment in contemplative silence. I simply adored how Alice Hoffman balances the fantasy element of the novel, it feels as though a truth has been sent free. I disappeared into the words, and took to my heart that survival isn’t just a matter of life or death. One word of advice, you may need to have tissues close to hand, I cried at the beauty of the ending. The World That We Knew is not only one of my picks of the month, it has also been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book.

Liz Robinson

The World That We Knew Synopsis


In Berlin in 1941 during humanity's darkest hour, three unforgettable young women must act with courage and love to survive, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Dovekeepers and The Marriage of Opposites Alice Hoffman.

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.

Win Our Next Set of 2020 LoveReading Star Books!

Win Our Next Set of 2020 LoveReading Star Books!

Closing date: 31/01/2021

We're continuing our 2020 Star Books giveaways!  We have launched a brand new competition for you to win the next batch of LoveReading 2020 Star Books. The most recent additions to our LoveReading Books of the Year 2020. As you may well know, we have a section of our site where we proudly display our Star Books – the books that really stand out from the crowd of the thousands of books published and the hundreds of books we select and read every year here at Team LoveReading. Books up for grabs The Englishman by David Gilman When She Was Good by Michael Robotham Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville People Like Us by Louise Fein The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard Slow Road to San Francisco by David Reynolds The Weight of Small Things by Julie Lancaster Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman Silver by Chris Hammer The Innocents by Michael Crummey How to Raise an Elephant by Alexander McCall Smith Born Killers? by Kris Mohandie City of Margins by William Boyle Only Us by Stuart Dunn This draw is open only for UK residents currently in the UK and is free to enter, multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once. The draw closes on 31st January 2021. Please ensure that the details you use to enter the competition will be correct at the time the competition ends. The winners will be notified as soon as possible.

Enter Now

The World That We Knew Press Reviews

'Breaching the space between reality and mysticism . . . the battle between evil and love, and myth and truth is so powerfully woven into the evocative narrative it will take your breath away' - Woman

'Three unforgettable women, Lea, Ettie and Ava, escape the Nazi regime in Berlin in 1941. During humanity's darkest hour, where evil can be found at every turn, they must find hidden courage and love to survive against all odds. A magical read from a wonderful writer' - My Weekly

'Hoffman's fictional world is one of violence and terror, in which the angel of death is a menacing presence; it is also one that celebrates the redemptive power of love and sacrifice. Infusing the real events of the Holocaust with Jewish mysticism and folk tales, she has created an original, deeply moving novel' - Sunday Times

'Will break your heart, and then stitch it back together piece by piece. It's about love and loss, about history and the world today, about what happens when man goes against the laws of nature for good and for evil' -- Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of A Spark of Light 'A whirlwind, multi-strand plot honours real-life atrocities and everyday heroism . . . the emotional power of Hoffman's storytelling is rarely in doubt' - Daily Mail

'This fable of love and sacrifice blends magic realism with brutal history to devastating effect . . . a spellbinding testament to resilience in the face of evil' - Mail on Sunday

'With the dream-like feel of a fairy tale, this is the story of a young Jewish girl who is sent away from Berlin during the Second World War... this classic fairy tale of good versus evil is wonderful. The storytelling is lush and vivid, and it stayed with me for a long time' - Good Housekeeping

'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. The book builds and builds, as she weaves together, seamlessly, the stories of people in the most desperate of circumstances - and then it delivers with a tremendous punch. It opens up the world ... in a way that is absolutely unique. By the end you may be weeping' -- Elizabeth Strout, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge -

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781471185854
Publication date: 20/08/2020
Publisher: Scribner UK an imprint of Simon & Schuster Ltd
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781471185823
Publication date: 17/10/2019
Publisher: Scribner UK an imprint of Simon & Schuster Ltd
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781471185854
Publication date: 20th August 2020
Author: Alice Hoffman
Publisher: Scribner UK an imprint of Simon & Schuster Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 400 pages
Genres: Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Relationship Stories, Star Books,
Collections: Our Favourite Books of 2020,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman is the bestselling author of eighteen acclaimed novels, including The Ice Queen, Practical Magic, Here on Earth, The River King, Blue Diary, Illumination Night, Turtle Moon, Seventh Heaven, and At Risk. She lives in Massachusetts.   Photograph © Deborah Feingold

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