By Angie Georgeff
In Alice Hoffman’s newest novel “The World That We Knew,” Jewish mother Hanni and her daughter Lea live in Berlin in 1941. Keenly aware of the danger that threatens them, Hanni turns to Ettie, the teenaged daughter of a rabbi, for help. Together, they create a golem, a creature of superhuman strength modeled of clay and animated by kabbalistic magic. They shape the golem so that it appears to be a woman and call it Ava. Ava has no soul, but she does have a purpose, and her mission is to keep Lea safe and to love and protect her as a mother would.
Ettie and her younger sister accompany Ava and Lea as they escape Berlin on a train to Paris. Once they arrive in France, Lea and her “cousin” Ava seek sanctuary with distant relatives, while Ettie goes on to join the French Resistance. As you might imagine, evil and danger continue to pursue Ava and Lea and those with whom they find shelter, but Lea has a dedicated and powerful protector in Ava.
My own copy of “The World That We Knew” is now at the top of my to-be-read stack at home, along with a box of tissues. Thinking about golems – which, frankly, I don’t do very often – has reminded me of Helene Wecker’s popular 2013 novel “The Golem and the Jinni.” If you are curious, a sequel called “The Iron Season” is planned, but apparently a publishing date has not yet been set.
Driven by autumn winds, dry leaves are skittering along the empty streets and twigs are scraping across window panes like phantom fingernails. It’s time. Our annual Halloween Film Festival begins tomorrow night. Due to the limitations of our site license, I can’t publish the title of the movie that we will be showing in this column. Since the subject has already come up, I can tell you that it’s not “The Golem.” That would be perfect for Halloween, of course, but it’s not covered by our site license. Join us at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10, for popcorn, candy and another movie just as suitable for the season. Please feel free to bring a bottle of water or the soft drink of your choice.
Columbus Day may be the Rodney Dangerfield of U. S. holidays, but I’m always happy to have an opportunity to sleep late. The library will be closed on Monday, Oct. 14, in observance of Columbus Day. No items will be due on that date, but you may deposit books in either of our book returns at any time. They are located in front of the library in Erwin and at Town Hall in Unicoi.
Since DVDs may be damaged if heavy books fall on them, please return DVDs to the library when we’re open. We appreciate your help keeping our videos safe. Thank you!