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The Dovekeepers: A Novel [Hardcover]

Alice Hoffman
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 4 2011
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.

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Review

"I am still reeling from The Dovekeepers--from the history Alice Hoffman illuminates, from the language she uses to bring these women to life. This novel is a testament to the human spirit and to love rising from the ashes of war. But most of all, this novel is one that will never be forgotten by a reader." --Jodi Picoult, author of Sing You Home

"Beautiful, harrowing, a major contribution to twenty-first century literature."—Toni Morrison, Nobel Laureate in Literature

“In her remarkable new novel, Alice Hoffman holds a mirror to our ancient past as she explores the contemporary themes of sexual desire, women's solidarity in the face of strife, and the magic that's quietly present in our day-to-day living. Put The Dovekeepers at the pinnacle of Hoffman's extraordinary body of work. I was blown away.” —Wally Lamb, author of The Hour I First Believed

About the Author

Alice Hoffman is the author of thirty works of fiction, including Practical Magic, The Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club Selection Here on Earth, and the recent blockbuster bestseller The Dovekeepers. She lives in Boston.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hoffman At Her Very Best! April 30 2012
By Louise Jolly TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Story Description:

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 solider. 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.

My Review:

I have read a lot of novels about ancient Jerusalem during this era but I must begin this particular review with one word - WOW!! I was completely entranced with Alice Hoffman's The Dovekeepers which took place during the Roman siege during the first century abbreviated as C.E. which stands for Common Era.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
.. a choice we made at the beginning, to choose death rather than slavery.'

In this novel, Alice Hoffman attempts a retelling of the Jewish resistance at Masada during the Roman siege during the first century CE. I've since read that the only account we have of this event is `The Jewish War' written around 75 CE by Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian who became a Roman citizen. Masada, according to Josephus, was fortified by Herod the Great (between 37 and 31 BCE) as a refuge for himself in case of a revolt. The historical context, as I understand it, can be summarised as follows: in 66 CE, at the beginning of the first Jewish Revolt against the Roman Empire, a group of Jewish extremists known as the Sicarii (a subset of the Zealots) overcame the Roman garrison at Masada, and settled there. Three years later, after the Siege of Jerusalem and the subsequent destruction of the Second Temple, other members of the Sicarii as well as other Jewish families fled from Jerusalem and settled at Masada.

`We were a city and a world unto ourselves, with more people arriving all the time.'

The account of the siege of Masada was supposedly related to Josephus by two women who had hidden inside a cistern together with five children, thus avoiding the mass suicide that supposedly ended the siege.

`.. some days were meant to remember that the past was with us still.'

`The Dovekeepers' tells the story of the siege through the interactions of six different women: Shirah, the Witch of Moab, and her two daughters Aziza and Nahara; Yael, the daughter of a political assassin; Revka, whose husband has been killed by the Romans and whose daughter has been brutalised by them; and Channa, the reclusive wife of the leader of the Jewish rebels.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Sign of Peace Nov. 6 2012
Format:Paperback
As a longtime fan of Alice Hoffman, I was thrilled to find this latest offering. This author is known for her strong female characters and in The Dovekeepers she does not disappoint. The lure of four strong females was irresistible.

Set on the plains of Masada, four women of varied backgrounds find themselves at a crossroad in history. Two survive, two do not. The two women and five children are the only survivors of the massacre at Masada.

What started out as a personal look at history through the eyes of the women soon became bogged down with too much history. Yes, it was realistic. Yes, I did feel like I was present. But in this case I believe the writer's adage of "Show, Don't Tell" should have been more literally followed. For me there was not enough dialogue to move the story forward at a quicker pace. I felt the story was bogged down with weighty explanations of history. While I am a firm believer that history should be honored, I also believe that sometimes too much history can be a bad thing. After all, this is a work of fiction.

Having said that, I do honor the amount of research and preparation that went into this book. I'm sure the author lived the lives of her characters as she researched them. Well done on that score!

For my tastes, the book was drawn-out and tended to slow down in too many places. I found myself being distracted by outside forces too much. Not the kind of book I couldn't put down.

I look forward, however, to Ms. Hoffman's next offering.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Dovekeepers is a must read to sink deep into the lives of the...
I am loving the Dovekeepers. It is a captivating excerpt of a time in history that quickly drew me in to the characters and the various scenes there were living in during that... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Maureen Sherman
4.0 out of 5 stars History and fiction make a good mix.
I don't know if I was so engrossed because I had been to Israel and Masada but I think other readers would be engrossed too. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Elizabeth Dau
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedium personified
I found this book tedious u=in the extreme. It could have been a brilliant book if the author was less poetic and more into moving the plot. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ruftara
4.0 out of 5 stars The Dovekeepers
This is a fascinating story of a biblical occurrence as to how the Jews searched for a safe place in the desert. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Janice Darlington
4.0 out of 5 stars I just enjoyed the way the book was written - how the main characters...
I found the story very interesting and I could hardly wait to get back to it once I put it down. I also enjoyed the history involved.
Published 8 months ago by Sharon Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Love This Book
I could not put "The Dovekeeper" down once I started reading it! Loved the way the author presented this true story with fiction. Read more
Published 11 months ago by sharry
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an excellent book and one that I recommend to people who love...
I have recommended this book to all my friends and I also recommend it to anyone who loves 'history''...you will enjoy this story. Read more
Published 11 months ago by happy
2.0 out of 5 stars The Dovekeepers
We read this book for our book club. I found the book interesting from the historical angle, but too long and very dark. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ankaret
5.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting story
Loved the way the four characters were intertwined throughout the story, it kept you waiting to find out how they would all survive in the end.
Published 14 months ago by Shirley Danyluk
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book
This book came very quickly with no problems. It was a great price for a hard cover book and a good read
Published 16 months ago by Adine Shuchuk
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