The Dovekeepers

The Dovekeepers

A Novel

Book - 2011
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Over five years in the writing,

The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman's most ambitious and mesmerizing novel, a tour de force of imagination and research, set in ancient Israel.

In 70 C.E., nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman's novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily 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, an expert assassin, 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 young grandsons, rendered mute by what they have witnessed. Aziza is a warrior's daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and an expert marksman who finds passion with a fellow soldier. Shirah, born in Alexandria, 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. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets--about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love. The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman's masterpiece.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2011
Edition: 1st Scribner hardcover ed
ISBN: 9781451617474
Characteristics: 504 p. : map ; 24 cm
Alternative Title: Dove keepers


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Dec 14, 2020

A bit of fantastical page turning adventure novel, with Harry Potteresque magic, mixed with some real historical basis of interest to myself, being Jewish, though to everybody interested in history.
The plot is spellbinding, and makes it hard to put down. The characters are very strong, not particularly nuanced, it is heroes and devils. I think it is more fiction than history but well done.

Nov 29, 2020

Intersecting stories of the Hebrew people at Masada. Based on a tidbit in the work of historian Josephus that reported two women and three children survivors of the siege by the Roman army. Having been to Masada and recalling the dove cotes in particular, I was able to visualize life at Masada while learning of the terrible struggle to survive in the harsh wilderness of nature and of man and the role of faith in all its expressions.

Sep 22, 2020

I gave this a 4 as it's well written and descriptive. However, if you don't want to know about the historical times of the Roman war against Jews in the ancient times don't read this. Kept my interest throughout. A realistic but somewhat pat ending with a happier feel than the tragic survival on the mountain.

Jul 20, 2019

This novel is simply exquisitely written. There were times I loved it, but most of the time I found it too overwrought for my taste. It was wonderful reading something about this time period, the first century C.E.

Apr 27, 2019

Recommendation: MPR's The Thread

Sep 15, 2018

I read this book to fulfil the goal read a book about feminism. it was kindof neat timing for me as i'm also reading the old testament. (it takes place in the time period between the old and new testaments.) i love biblical fiction like this. it really fuels the imagination as you read your scriptures.

May 12, 2018

It would have been better if there wasn't so much repetition of religious practices and superstitions. The story and approach could have been much better with less of the of the silly practices and beliefs.

Apr 08, 2018

Based on true history, four women manage to survive against all odds. There is both beauty and heartbreak in this story.

Jan 14, 2018

This harrowing tale of four women who are at Masada when it falls to the Romans is a tad tedious. Masada is a key event in Israeli history. Yet, the focus of the book is on their lives and transgressions before the last day. The book is overly long and gives short thrift to the climatic real life ending.

Dec 14, 2017

"Dove Keepers" by Alice Hoffman is one terrific adventure story based on historical accounts during ancient times in old Isreal. The "Dove Keepers" is a story about four heroic women, all different from each other, one is a warrior, one is a healer, one is a mystic, and one is leader. The Jewish people are on the run from the Roman army that has invaded and is now destroying the nation. The escape is lead by families who walk through the desert searching for a safe haven locate on top of a mountain. As the families settle in to their new surroundings each person assumes a position within the community that would add to their survival. The dove keepers are persons who care for birds. Doves lay eggs which provides food to help sustain the group. As time passes, relationships form, young girls become young women, hormones start to kick in and love blooms. The rules and traditions of Jewish Culture are less important when your on the run! "Dove Keepers" is an exciting story that keeps the reader entertained and riveted til the very end. Full of outstanding scenic descriptions, well developed characters you want to know more about and action that take your mind's eye into uncharted territory. A must read. Already a feature film I can't wait to read it again.

Highly recommended!

Ghettostone Publications Editor/Chief


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Jul 30, 2014

blue_dolphin_3159 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


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