The Dovekeepers- Alice Hoffman

Sarah P’s pick

 Set over four years around 70 AD and based on the true story of nine hundred Jews holding out against the might of the Roman army in the desert at Masada, this novel tells the story through four female characters who have taken refuge there.

 The women are connected initially as they work as dove keepers then later their lives come together in other ways.

 Yael’s mother died in childbirth and her father blames her for the death. Revka is raising her grandchildren after her daughter is brutally attacked by Roman soldiers. Aziza was raised as a boy and is a warrior. Shirah has knowledge of magic and medicine.

 We learn the story of each of the women- where they came from, their families and the men they love.

 The historical background took many years of research. It is based on the accounts of the two women and five children who survived the Roman siege, told by the historian Josephus. It is also based on archaeological evidence from the site. While the characters are fictitious they bring the story to life.