Monday, October 3, 2011

Review: The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

Goodreads Summary
Over five years in the writing, Alice Hoffman’s most ambitious and mesmerizing novel ever, a triumph of imagination and research set in ancient Israel.

The author of such iconic bestsellers as Illumination Night, Practical Magic, Fortune’s Daughter, and Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on Earth, Alice Hoffman is one of the most popular and memorable writers of her generation. Now, in The Dovekeepers, Hoffman delivers her most masterful work yet—one that draws on her passion for mythology, magic, and archaeology and her inimitable understanding of women.

In 70 CE, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on a mountain in the Judean desert, Masada. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic historical event, Hoffman weaves a spellbinding tale of four extraordinary, bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the horrifically brutal murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her twin grandsons, rendered mute by their own witness. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and expert marksman, who finds passion with another soldier. Shirah is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power. The lives of these four complex and fiercely independent women intersect in the desperate days of the siege, as the Romans draw near. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets—about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love.

This novel is Alice Hoffman’s masterpiece.

My Thoughts
Wow! This book is a breathtaking story about four remarkable women in ancient Israel during the Roman siege on Masada where 900 Jews held off the Roman forces for months. The book begins with the story of Yael, a tough as nails young women whose mother died in childbirth and whose father resents her very existence because of it. I loved her for her strength, determination, and fierceness. I worried when the POV switched to another woman that I wouldn't connect as I had with Yael but I needn't have worried. 

Each of the four women have incredible stories of survival, love and loss which become interwoven as they come to work together taking care of the doves at Masada. This story is very heavily detailed though it's so beautifully written that it just flows like water. I took my time reading, savoring it like a delicious meal from the first word to the heartbreaking climax. 

Honestly, I can't say much more than to tell you to go pick this one up. It's a lengthy one but oh so worth every single page.


Debbie Rodgers said...

I just saw this today in the GoodReads newsletter and wondered whether to put it on my TBR list. I really liked Here on Earth, but didn't want to be disappointed by expecting such a "good read" again from the same author. Thanks to your review, I'll be sure to read it soon! said...

What a great blog! You can find this book, along with a host of other recent best sellers, at!

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