First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.
Publisher, Date:
New York : Simon & Shuster, 2019.
372 pages ; 25 cm
"From New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman comes a beautiful story of one Jewish child refugee's flight to safety in Nazi German and her mother's impossible decision to set her free"-- Provided by publisher.
9781501137570 (hardcover)
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F Hof
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Hanni Kohn (Female), Mother, Has a plan to save her daughter from the Nazi regime
Lea (Female), Daughter of Hanni
Ettie (Female), Daughter of a renowned rabbi; creates a mythical Jewish creature,a golem, to protect Lea
Ava (Female), Golem created by Ettie
Magic realism
Jewish families
Jewish Holocaust
Magical creatures
Good vs. evil
Germany - Europe
France - Europe
Time Period
1940s -- 20th century
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

Desperate to get her 12-year-old daughter, Lea, out of 1941 Berlin, Hanni Kohn trusts Ettie, the teen daughter of a rabbi, to create a golem--a clay figure brought to life by Ettie's magic. Unusually, Ava is shaped as a woman, and her raison d'être is to keep Lea safe. Ettie and her younger sister accompany Ava and Lea as they escape on a train to Paris. The three are separated by tragedy, and Ettie joins the French Resistance while Lea and Ava first seek shelter with distant relatives, who reluctantly take them in. The fates of the family's teen sons Victor and Julien are soon entwined with those of Lea and Ava as they all move about France. Out of the familiar framework of the extraordinary courage and cunning it took to survive the unspeakable brutality of the Holocaust comes this moving, suspenseful story of love, decency, and fearlessness in the face of evil. VERDICT One of America's most brilliant novelists since her debut, Property Of (1977), Hoffman uses her signature element of magical realism to tackle an intolerably painful chapter in history. Readers know going in that their hearts will be broken, but they will be unable to let go until the last page. [See Prepub Alert, 2/24/19.]--Beth Andersen, formerly with Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI

  Publishers Weekly Review

Set in Nazi-occupied France between 1941 and 1944, Hoffman's latest (after The Rules of Magic) is a bittersweet parable about the costs of survival and the behaviors that define humanity. The narrative follows several groups of characters: teenage Julien Lévi and his older brother, Victor, whose family is murdered by the Nazis; Ettie, a rabbi's daughter, who with Victor and Marianne, the Lévis' former (Protestant) housekeeper, become members of the Resistance; and Lea Kohn, a schoolgirl fleeing Berlin with her "cousin" Ava. Unbeknownst to most of the characters, Ava is actually a golem--a soulless supernatural protector out of Jewish folklore--and her interactions with them and the ways in which she touches their lives serve as touchstones for Hoffman's reflections on the power of love to redeem and the challenges of achieving humanity, or retaining it, under such challenging circumstances. Though coincidence governs much of the meeting and team-ups of her characters, Hoffman mitigates any implausibility through the fairy tale quality of Ava's involvement and her supernatural powers of salvation. The attention to the harsh historical facts makes the reader care all the more strongly about the fates of all of the characters. Hoffman offers a sober appraisal of the Holocaust and the tragedies and triumphs of those who endured its atrocities. (Sept.)

  Booklist Review

For Jewish mother and daughter Hanni and Lea, 1940s Berlin is an increasingly terrifying place. Hanni's love for her daughter is boundless; Lea must be kept safe at any cost. Knowing she lacks the power to accomplish this, Hanni finds a partner in Ettie, a strong-willed rabbi's daughter. Together, using clay and kabbalistic magic, they create and animate a golem. This soulless, superhuman creature is given the mission of protecting Lea, loving her as her mother would, and seeing to her safety. In the novel's foreword, the perennially best-selling and imaginative Hoffman notes, When you lose your child, the future vanishes. When you lose your parent, the world ends. During the Holocaust, a time of indescribable evil, so very many children vanished, so many parents were lost. 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.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With more than 30 works of fiction, Hoffman has a large, devoted following, and this, one of her finest, will be much requested.--Bethany Latham Copyright 2019 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

In this tale of a young German Jewish girl under the protection of a golema magical creature of Jewish myth created from mud and waterHoffman (The Rules of Magic, 2017, etc.) employs her signature lyricism to express the agony of the Holocaust with a depth seldom equaled in more seemingly realistic accounts.The golem, named Ava, comes into being in 1941 Berlin. Recently made a widow by the Gestapo and desperate to get her 12-year-old daughter, Lea, out of Germany, Hanni Kohn hires Ettie, a rabbi's adolescent daughter who has witnessed her father creating a golem, to make a female creature who must obey Hanni by protecting Lea at all costs. Ettie uses Hanni's payment to escape on the same train toward France as Lea and Ava, but the two human girls' lives take different paths. Ettie, who has always chafed at the limits placed on her gender, becomes a Resistance fighter set on avenging her younger sister's killing by Nazis. Lea, under Ava's supernatural care, escapes the worst ravages of the war, staying first with distant cousins in Paris (already under Gestapo rule), where she falls in love with her hosts' 14-year-old son, Julien; then in a convent school hiding Jewish girls in the Rhone Valley; then in a forest village not far from where Ettie has partnered in her Resistance activities with Julien's older brother. While Lea's experiences toughen and mature her, Ettie never stops mourning her sister but finds something like love with a gentle gentile doctor who has his own heartbreaking backstory. In fact, everyone in the large cast of supporting human charactersas well as the talking heron that is Ava's love interest and Azriel, the Angel of Deathbecomes vividly real, but Ava the golem is the heart of the book. Representing both fierce maternal love and the will to survive, she forces Lea and Ettie to examine their capacities to make ethical choices and to love despite impossible circumstances.A spellbinding portrait of what it means to be human in an inhuman world. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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. <br> <br> "[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 <br> <br> "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 <br> <br> "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 <br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.
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