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The Dovekeepersby Alice Hoffman
Synopses & Reviews
Over five years in the writing,
The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffmans 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, Hoffmans novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path. Yaels mother died in childbirth, and her father, an expert assassin, never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village bakers 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 warriors 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 Hoffmans masterpiece.
"Almost too dense to bear, Hoffman's 23rd novel is brimming with doom, based on the story of the mass suicide of Jewish Zealots at Masada as recorded by the historian Josephus. Set in the first century, the blood-soaked saga unfolds from the perspectives of four courageous Jewish women whose lives converge in the dovecotes of the rebel desert stronghold. Yael is an assassin's daughter who flees Jerusalem as it falls to the Romans, arriving pregnant with the child of her father's married colleague. Revka, her husband murdered by the Romans, comes with her two grandsons, rendered mute after witnessing their mother's disembowelment by Roman soldiers. Shirah, from Alexandria, possibly a witch, brings her beautiful daughter Aziza, who having learned the ways of men among the tribesmen of Moab, uses her warrior's skills to fight in this last stand against the Roman legions. Suspicious of one another early on, the women, each with her own secrets and talents, powerful lovers and magical spells, soon develop a loyalty so fierce that they are willing to sacrifice everything for each other and for the children they are entrusted with. Hoffman (Here on Earth) can tell a tale and knows about creating compassionate characters, but the leaden archaic prose style she uses tells more than it shows. Massive descriptive paragraphs slow the action, until, by the end, the reader is simply worn out. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Alice Hoffman’s richest, most ambitious novel ever, a tour de force of imagination and research, set in ancient Israel.
About the Author
Alice Hoffman was born in New York City in 1952 and grew up on Long Island. Hoffman’s first novel, Property Of, was written at the age of twenty-one. She has published a total of twenty-eight works of fiction. Her novel, Here on Earth, an Oprah Book Club choice. Practical Magic was made into a Warner film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Hoffman’s work has been published in more than twenty translations and more than one hundred foreign editions. Hoffman is currently a visiting research scholar at the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis University. She lives in Boston.
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