The Dove Keepers by Alice Hoffman


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.
Group Comments

Lots of violence fascinating to sustain population on Masada. Connection between women, repetitive glad to have read it, would not recommend.

I found it compelling reading once I got into it. I just had to know how it happened as the ending was foreshadowed early on. The setting of the book was new for me – I didn’t know much about that area and era so I learnt a lot, including how brutal life was. We should remember this when we now get horrified about assault and murder in Sydney and compare the proportions. Despite the very different living conditions, I had no trouble living myself into the soul of the characters. And I know where I would like to live and which problems I prefer. A nice easy read – yet it also raised the issue of the Middle East conflicts. How can each new American president think he/she can fix that age old problem?

Liked the cover photo, history matter, everyone mystical; not enjoyed. Far too long.

Did not finish, metaphors laboured.

Abandoned it, too repetitive.

Read it, loved history. Book was historic. Too much detail.

Too long, repetitive. Not interested in characters.