What Only We Know: A Heart-Wrenching and Unforgettable World War 2 Historical Novel Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
A door slammed and the unmistakable sound of boots came crashing up the hall. Liese held her little daughter’s hand so tightly, the tiny fingers had turned purple. The SS officer’s hand was at Liese’s throat before she saw him move. "I can kill you easily, then I can kill your daughter." He relaxed his grip a little. "Or perhaps I could kill her first?"
England, 40 years later. When Karen Cartwright is unexpectedly called home to nurse her ailing father, she goes with a heavy heart. The house she grew up in feels haunted by the memory of her father’s closely guarded secrets about her beautiful mother Elizabeth’s tragic death years before.
As she packs up the house, Karen discovers an old photograph and a stranger’s tattered love letter to her mother postmarked from Germany after the war.
During her life, Karen struggled to understand her shy, fearful mother, but now she is realizing there was so much more to Elizabeth than she knew. For one thing, her name wasn’t even Elizabeth, and her harrowing story begins long before Karen was born.
It’s 1941 in Berlin, and a young woman called Liese is being forced to wear a yellow star...
A beautiful and gripping wartime story about family secrets and impossible choices in the face of terrible hardship. Perfect for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, We Were the Lucky Ones, and The Alice Network.
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|Listening Length||12 hours and 46 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||May 27, 2020|
|Publisher||Hachette UK - Bookouture|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #29,561 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#2,016 in Historical Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#11,105 in Historical Fiction (Books)
Top reviews from the United States
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What Only We Know had such a powerful effect on me that I am certain that it will be the yardstick by which I measure other historical fiction works. This is a a Must Read!
I had never read one regarding the devastation of Germany. I was a military spouse for 20+ yrs. Although my husband was stationed there and I could have went, somehow I could never bring myself to do so. I had read a lot of stories from friends that had came to the states that had family in the Eastern side of Berlin. It upset me so. This novel was truly hard for me to read. I am so glad to have decided to do so. It seemed to open my eyes better than their stories did.
It was so real, almost like a true story, that good. You will understand more of what you think you know, by reading slow as I did.
Our country AMERICA. Is going thru a time of terrible turmoil now, that I had never would have believed could happen, rioting, killings, people wanting to make our America a socialist, communist country. It's so scary, something That can NEVER will happen I pray.
Try to read with an open heart, and if you are living in a country that lives FREE. He grateful.
The woman leaves a husband and 11-year-old daughter who grows up angry and grieving a mother she needs to understand. Other characters become more central throughout the storytelling as the daughter grows up and begins searching for answers.
The story jumps back and forth as it unfolds. And as I've said, the plot itself is unique and very good. But I found sentence structure very hard to follow in the reading. Sometimes it was difficult to know for certain who was speaking. More than once I found myself re-reading paragraphs to make sure I comprehended what the author was trying to convey.
So it's a five-star plot with a two-year writing. I would recommend to readers of historical fiction, though. Many secrets unfold here.
"Only What We Know" is a story based on what life was like for German Jews living in Berlin during WW II.
The central plot point revolves around the reason for Karen's mother's death. Her mother was captured by the Nazis and lived in a labor camp for several years, and as many of those prisoners the damage done to them, not only physically, but mentally, lasted for years, sometimes a lifetime.
Karen is driven to unravel the reason for her mother's death and the cause of the dynamics in her family. Are they intertwined? Is there a secret?
I tried to read this book a few pages at a time before bed. Couldn't do it! I gave up, started over and finished it in two days!!!
As much as this is a beautiful story it is also a horribly disturbing story of the cold-hearted cruelty inflected upon people simply because of their religion.
I recommend this book. Read it slowly. Feel the pictures and emotions the words create. I felt like I was actually there with the characters, which enriched the story. I hope it does the same for you.
Top reviews from other countries
Lots of interesting facts about different camps ,and in the midst a story of a young Jewish girl who understands the dangers of the Nazi ,tries to talk her father in to leaving Berlin before the start of the war ,
Because he believes that they will be safe that it would blow over they stay ..
The real story starts there , I felt carried away with all the emotions of the story and although I couldn't comprehend the sheer horror that was experiences by the jews the author had such a way of writing that made you feel the realness of it all.
An excellent book , prepared to be shocked saddened and disbelieving that terrible crimes that were carried out in the name of facism x
Beginning with a classic tale of a Jewish girl caught in Nazi Germany when Hitler came to power in 1929, Liese's story is one of fear, mistrust, and frustration. You will be shouting at her parents to leave Germany, get out whilst they can, yet with the knowledge of hindsight, understanding how they also believed that the possible was impossible. Liese's courage to keep going when she feels she can't is something to admire.
Her experience of life under the Nazi regime and how they saw people 'non-Aryan', those less than themselves, as inhuman and a mere commodity is haunting and gutwrenching. Yet the words leapt off the page as truth stronger than fiction. These things happened, not just in the author's mind but in reality.
Karen was a character I struggled with at first, because she was so frustrating and herself frustrated, yet recognising that post war world of being kept in the dark, I can entirely understand her pain. Only now are we beginning to recognise PTSD which Liese suffered with undoubtedly, but also how in the post war era no one discussed it. That old phrase 'don't mention the war' is true; one that Karen has to experience throughout her life, being met with her own metaphorical wall of silence and secrets.
I remember, as a child, the Berlin Wall falling, and the end of the Cold War, but never really understanding the true significance of it, until more recently after completing my own more indepth research into the history of East and West Germany. Another fascinating part of European history.
This isn't a story of joy, happiness, and laughter, though there are moments which shine through the gaps; it's a story of pain, suffering, loss but also learning, through the character of Karen but also as the reader.
As a parent myself and with Jewish half aunts who were alive in WW2 I tried to imagine the experience that Liese went through and the pain she felt. It is beyond comprehension, yet Hokin has done an amazing job of getting close.
I highly recommend this book, and the author, who I have recently started to follow, and read her novels. It is a beautifully written novel, and I admit I shed a tear or two. If you, like me have a keen interest in this era then it's definitely worth a read. Just have a tissue or two to hand.
Bouncing between a narrative in 30's and 40's Berlin and 1970's-90's England, Catherine Hokin writes a powerful, beautifully described novel of family, identity, unpalatable truths and reconciliation.
The history of those who survive war doesn't become instantly becalmed once victory or liberation - or indeed defeat has passed.