The Dovekeepers: A Novel (Paperback)
I totally lived and breathed this book! The entire time I was reading what in my humble opinion is Hoffman's masterpiece, I was buried in the lives of the four Jewish women who are the focus of this historical novel which takes place during the time of Masada, in the first century. Though comparisons to The Red Tent will definitely be made, Hoffman has written a thoroughly unique and engrossing story, one that is told with her trademarks of magic and metaphor. Each of these four women tell their story -- the assassin's daughter, the baker's wife, the warrior's beloved, and the witch of Moab -- and as each of them speak, we learn of their childhoods; of their mothers, daughters, and sisters; and of the time they spend tending to the doves in their dovecotes. Then, of course, there are the men they love: the warriors in their midst who are responsible for the lives of their families. The plight of the Jews at this time as they flee from the advancing Roman armies, and the anxious suspense and sheer terror they face, knowing that they are all in danger of losing their lives, is so raw and so real. Upon approaching the end of the book, when the Romans are literally climbing the walls of the fortress, I found myself nearly breathless, touched by the intensity of emotion in these passages. The author writes of the loss of innocence in the face of war, and more importantly the loss of life, in such a way that this important piece of first century history takes on a new meaning. The Dovekeepers is magical, brilliant, suspenseful, and beautiful. It's a novel that will linger with me always. -- Linda Grana— From February 2013
October 2011 Indie Next List
“The deaths of 900 Jews at Masada in 70 CE remains a terrifying tale. Through Hoffman's stunning prose, we meet four women as they weave their way to Herod's ancient fortress, believing the mountain top can withstand any siege. Yael, daughter of an assassin, is in search of her brother; Revka, a baker's wife, arrives with her grandsons in the wake of her daughter's murder; Shira is a sorceress and mother figure to all except her own daughter, Aziza, who has chosen the warrior's path. As dovekeepers for the besieged community, they care for both the birds and each other. This haunting novel puts an unforgettable human face on a terrible tragedy that will stay with the reader for a long time.”
— Anne Holman, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT
Summer 2012 Reading Group
“The deaths of 900 Jews at Masada in 70 CE remains a terrifying tale. Through Hoffman's stunning prose, we meet four women as they weave their way to Herod's ancient fortress, believing the mountaintop can withstand any siege. Yael, daughter of an assassin, is in search of her brother; Revka, a baker's wife, arrives with her grandsons in the wake of her daughter's murder; Shira is a sorceress and mother figure to all except her own daughter, Aziza, who has chosen the warrior's path. As dovekeepers for the besieged community, they care for both the birds and each other. This haunting novel puts an unforgettable human face on a terrible tragedy that will stay with the reader for a long time.”
— Anne Holman, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT
An ambitious and mesmerizing novel from the bestselling author of Rules of Magic. The Dovekeepers is “striking….Hoffman grounds her expansive, intricately woven, and deepest new novel in biblical history, with a devotion and seriousness of purpose” (Entertainment Weekly).
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.
About the Author
Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The World That We Knew, The Rules of Magic, 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.
"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