The Dovekeepers

The Dovekeepers

4.1 328
by Alice Hoffman

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The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman’s most ambitious and mesmerizing novel, a tour de force of research and imagination. 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…  See more details below


The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman’s most ambitious and mesmerizing novel, a tour de force of research and imagination. 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.

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Editorial Reviews

In Alice Hoffman's latest, much anticipated novel, four women have come to a historic place of no return. The time is 70 C.E.; the final retreat is Masada, a mountain fortress deep in the Judean desert. With a powerful Roman army encircling them, these fiercely independent women have sought refuge with 900 other Jews to make a tragic last stand against the siege of the conquerors. At first, these women, brought together to tend the dovecote, nurse their differences; gradually they learn to share their pain, their strength, and their dreams. Yael is an assassin's daughter, now pregnant with the child of a married man. Revka, a baker's wife, witnessed the horrific slaughter of her daughter by Roman troops. Beautiful, brave Aziza is a female warrior who was raised as a boy. Her mother, Alexandria-born Shirah, is a magician and perhaps a witch. As events grow ever more ominous, these dovekeepers form bonds under pressure. Five years in the works, Hoffman's The Dovekeepers is an ambitious fiction masterwork woven into real history.

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5.90(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.80(d)

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The Dovekeepers 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 328 reviews.
BookSake More than 1 year ago
When I read a book like The Dovekeepers, I find myself at a loss when trying to review it. I don't feel that my words can do justice to the story and wonderful writing that Alice Hoffman brings to this novel. I scrambled to read this novel at the last minute, and even having read it for free, I know it will be a book that I will go out and purchase to read once more, and make everyone I know read it also. The story tells the separate but intertwined stories of four women during the Roman occupation of Jerusalem. That these women survive, and break rules (religious laws), and love in their unexpected ways during this time period is amazing, and not always so different from some of the struggles that women in parts of the world live now. Not having known the story of Masada, I am curious to learn more, and then re-read The Dovekeepers, I feel if I have a better grasp of the history behind the fiction, that I may enjoy the novel more, if that is even possible. I think that this is by far the best book I have read in the past year, and will be telling as many people as I can to pick this one up. ARC Reviewed by Gabi for Book Sake.
DSaff More than 1 year ago
Four women find their lives interwoven as the Romans kill the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the surrounding lands. All four end up in Masada, a fortress built for a cruel king, now their safe haven. As their tales unfold, each woman is drawn into the lives of the others. There are, however, secrets that all keep. They are Yael, Revka, Aziza, and Shirah. They care for the doves in the Dovecote, sharing food, time, and space. As their time in Masada unfolds, you will learn of their loves, their fears, and their reality. Will they make it out alive? What happens with the loves in their lives? Once you get into the story, you won't be able to put it down. While I found the book slow to start, once it picked up it wouldn't let me go. These women seemed very real and their stories were very compelling and complex. There were many times I wanted to cry with them, laugh with them, hope with them. I purchased this book because a group I belong to on Goodreads was reading it and I am so thankful I did! Now I want to read more about the actual event this book is based on. I recommend it to all historical fiction readers, and to book clubs everywhere. There is a lot to discuss within these pages.
BETWEENTHELINESIL More than 1 year ago
“The Dovekeepers” is nothing short of spellbinding, empowering and uplifting. This is one you will want to keep on your shelf to re-read. What a talent this author has in her choice of words to bring these amazing strong female characters alive and the attention to detail that makes the storyline so real and meaningful. This is a historical novel but a modern day theme that will reach into your spirit. A BIG FIVE STARS!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is totally out of any genre's that I normally read but after reading the review's I had to try it out. I am not sorry I did and as soon as I got done reading it I read it again! These 4 women are unspeakably beautiful in their own ways, the times they go through are horrifying in a way us modern American women can and never will imagine. The characters are so rich, beautiful and brought to such life it was sad to see the story end. All I can tell you is it is beautifully written, very thought provoking, sad, happy, funny, serious, so many emotions all wrapped up into one. I sure did not regret the purchase and feel like I can read it anytime again for a visit with old friends.....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is certainly a good story here, but be ready to accept the fact that it is almost always depressing in tone. The novel succeeds in creating a believable fictional story from a factual event from ancient Hebrew history and making the harsh realities (particularly the misogyny) of living in those times come alive for the reader. The mix of superstition, religious practices, and culture/customs of the time are woven into the plot and help one to understand the behaviors of the various characters. While I found this interesting, I made sure to pick out a much lighter read as a follow up.
gerigall More than 1 year ago
I am about 1/3 through this wonderfully historical fiction novel and "feeling" the desert heat, the hot wind and especially the thoughts and moods of the characters. Yael is an exceptional young woman who has had to deal with the attitudes of men and women of that time period. She is questioning her worth as she has been scorned by her father. Luckily, her brother is her best friend and greatest supporter. I do not want to give away any more of this haunting story but I do want to say that this story has prompted me to research Masada and the history of that time period. Read will be in your thoughts throughout the day.
74scruffy74 More than 1 year ago
This was some of the best historical fiction I have read. Yeal and her people, confront the Romans on top of the world, Massada. I loved the characters and how the story developed until you had a sense of what these brave souls had to endure. I re-read the final chapters one more time before I could let this book go. I was captured from the first page until the last, and I will pass it on to others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A departure from this authors normal story lines. I truly believe this must be a past life for her. It was horrifying and sad. Made me feel depressed. But I saw into a life, and a history that I didn't know before. I would absolutly recommend it. It isn't going to make you feel good. But it will change you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written! Intriguing! I too found at one point i thought of not finishing this book but so very glad i continued. This is an amazing work of historical fiction. I am planning to research the history behind this novel, the story was that compelling. I will remember this one & recommend it to other readers. Not to those that only like "light" reads but to those that are interested in books with more substance and that are memorable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story takes the reader from Jerusalem to Masada. It follows the lives of the people who went through the siege. It is well written and beautifully constructed by Alice Hoffman. This is a story we don't often read or hear about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw the cover a few weeks ago and thought maybe ? I came back to it several times still not sure ? Had time for a free hour on my nook, why not ? My hour was over before I new it, and all I wanted was to continue on the journey. I purchased while still in store so I could go home to finish. Nice work Alice Hoffman. I enjoyed it.
Alta Dawson More than 1 year ago
Incredible, lovely historical fiction about the women of Masada.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ms. Hoffman is amazing. A beautiful story, beautifully told.
puzllover More than 1 year ago
Four women, each with a story of their own... the four different perscpectives become blended into a hauntingly beautiful novel. It was easy to get lost in this one. Why do we do what we do? What can make us change what we believe? I found myself doing a "gut-check" thinking what would I have done at several points in the story. This book has a truly unique story line and is so well written it easy to forget yourself for hours. So many twists and turns...
GreenEyedReader More than 1 year ago
Amazing tale This story was enthralling! The story of Masada(last Jewish stronghold against the Romans). Factually based story of 900 +or- Jewish people of different sects who come together through the destruction of their separate villages by the Romans to maintain the faith and way(s) of life. Masada was the mountaintop palatial home in ancient times of King Herod. The Jewish people were drawn to this place and its safety until the Romans stormed it. Story told by four strong female characters, the differences that bring and bind them together revealed through each of their personal lives-both in the time frame of the story and their earlier lives. The writing is superb! detailed so that you feel you could be there yourself. Love, loss, tragedy, fortitude , strength and history all in one. Well worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Embodies all elements of an exceptional novel, plus a good dose of history. A must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She has a way with words that caress nature and speak to my soul. I love everything about this book, and would love it ; even if it did not tell a story. However she portrays a great story which encompasses religious history and rituals. Lucy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing fiction of not only Biblical history, but of how four women saw the seige of Masada. Women's stories are rich in interaction and layered in emotional midrash that interacts in a different way than the records left by Josephus, which is the only extant record that Masada actually happened. These four are not only connected in their present but also have loose connections in their past. They have become a family of choice as somewhat outcast of Jewish accepted society. Through their eyes we see the dovecote, how the feather as well as the droppings become useful. We see water as not only life sustaining, but life giving. This is truely an amazing story of giving up, of taking in, of survival physically as well as spritual survival. Much as I did with Hoffman's Practical Magic, this is one to treasure and return to as its layers unfold. Wonderful book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was wonderful. The characters were well developed and likable. If the upcoming mini series follows the book, it will be worth the watching. High praise for this book!!
readtomuchMN More than 1 year ago
If you loved the Red Tent than read this book. It is told just as beautiful and gut wrenching. I only wish I could reread it with the same innocence as the first time I read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written and impossible to put down One of the best stories I've read in a long time Based on an actual historical event made it truly fascinating
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my all time favorite books, and I have read at least 50 this year. The history and the intricate story of each character comes to life. I read the book 2 or 3 times because I enjoyed the detail Alice Hoffman put into the setting, characters, and history. If you really like historical fiction, you will love this book.
CMKmom More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this book - especially the details of life on the desert, how people were treated, etc. The people were so religious - and the difference from then to now is amazing. Worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I feel like this was a waste of time. The beginning interested me but it became so boring and repetitive. It was depressing and just confusing. There was also some weirdness involved. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone.  I would give it a 0 rating if I could.It's not even worth one reading.Just ugh. Disappointing