Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Dovekeepers, Alice Hoffman

We had been wandering for so long I forgot what it was like to live within walls or sleep through the night. In that time I lost all I might have possessed if Jerusalem had not fallen: a husband, a family, a future of my own. My girlhood disappeared in the desert. The person I'd once been vanished as I wrapped myself in white when the dust rose into the clouds. We were nomads, leaving behind beds and belongings, rugs and brass pots. Now our house was the house of the desert, black at night, brutally white at noon.

"Nearly two thousand years ago, 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 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 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." That's the plot summary for The Dovekeepers. It sounds quite interesting, doesn't it? I really learned a lot about ancient history and early Jewish culture. The four strong women characters in the book were quite interesting too. So I enjoyed the subject matter, though the spiritualism stuff was a bit overboard.

And I also liked the writing style. It was kind of mystical, but in a good way, fitting the novel. The three women are all devout believers in their own way. There are four parts, each narrated by the women, in the order listed in the summary. I liked reading the story of each woman and how they arrived at Masada. The Dovekeepers was a bestseller (it might still be), and it was an enjoyable book, though not one of my 5 stars.

Read The Dovekeepers:
  • if you are interested in early history
  • if you like historical fiction
  • if you are interested in Jewish culture
501 pages.
Very Good! I would recommend this book!

1 comment:

  1. I bet you thought you knew all about the Masada story. But here it is from the women's point of view. It's a gut-wrenching story from any point of view, but this "take" on the story is well worth your time. It's well written and keeps the reader engrossed from page one. It's a winner!

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