What Only We Know by Catherine Hokin

United

What Only We Know by Catherine Hokin is a marvellous heart-breaking dual timeline novel that will consume you as you ‘live’ through the action.

The novel is set in Germany, mainly Berlin, in 1936-1947, and in England in 1971-1990. Chapters alternate, as do the voices through whom the story is told.

The horrors of life for Jewish people in Nazi Germany builds from ripples in 1936 to full blown horrors. Cruelty knows no bounds. One scene in particular affected me deeply as it played out before my eyes.

World War II effected lives and continued to effect lives for years later. A defining moment firmly grounded a character, stuck forever, suspended in a moment in time. No amount of love or care could move the character on.

The lives of the parents have a ripple effect on their children. Ghosts of the past hover in the present.

Catherine Hokin has constructed a marvellous novel with realistic, believable characters who were likable. My heart went out to lives damaged by experiences of war.

 I found it hard to witness those who performed horrendous acts of terror and cruelty live perfectly normal lives after the war.

The novel is about learning to understand how experiences shape us and direct our steps. It is about learning to love and realising why certain actions were done.

Catherine Hokin is a new author to me and I want to read everything she has ever written! What Only We Know consumed me as I read. I feel bereft now it is ended.

JULIA WILSON

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