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The Dovekeepers: A Novel Hardcover – Oct 4 2011

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CDN$ 14.00 CDN$ 3.00 First Novel Award - 6 Canadian Novels Make the Shortlist

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (Oct. 4 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145161747X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451617474
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 4.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 658 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #118,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"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 more than thirty works of fiction, including The Marriage of Opposites, Practical Magic, The Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on Earth, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, and The Dovekeepers. She lives near Boston.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Louise Jolly TOP 50 REVIEWER on April 30 2012
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 Marion Marchetto on 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paula M. Schuck on Dec 30 2011
Format: Hardcover
Dovekeepers was a beautiful read I lined up to get a crack at months ago. Told separately by four amazing strong women, the common thread of dove keeping binds them together as women's work during the days of Masada. There are hInts of magic realism here and some remarkable characters that may break your heart. Against the backdrop of the Judean mountain called Masada these four women come together to learn and unravel their own secrets. My only criticism of this novel was the shyer length. It might have benefitted from a more aggressive edit.

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 26 2012
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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