Review: The Dovekeepers

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman                                                         Scribner, October 4, 2011

*I bought this book with my own money.*

Set in 70 CE, The Dovekeepers follows the story of 4 women who flee to the fortress of Masada on the edge of the Judea desert, overlooking the Dead Sea.  All of these women come with secrets to hide as well as the looming threat of the Romans.  They are drawn together by fate working the dove cote.

Yael, who’s mother died while giving birth to her, has learned to become invisible when it matters.  Revka, a woman who has seen the unthinkable and lived to tell about it for a price.  Aziza, a young woman with the heart of a warrior.  And Shirah, a woman who will sacrifice it all for love even though she has already seen her fate.  This interesting, mystical, strong characters drive the story.  It is a tale of survival, friendship, war, love and the strength of woman.  Each character is so fully realized that you cannot help but feel they become a part of you.  After all, you know the secrets that they do not always share.

This wonderful fictional story is set upon the backdrop of the very real Masada.  A time in history when the Roman empire’s grasp was far reaching and its sites were set on Judea.  During this time Romans systematically came and destroyed entire cities, torturing any Jews that they found.  As the Jews were forced to abandon their homes and lives, some of them fled to the fortress of Masada.  Masada had been built by King Herod and was said to be indestructible.  It was set in the desert, high in the cliffs and was a solid fortress meant to stand the test of time.  It seemed like an ideal place to flee.  However, it ended up being the final stand in the First Jewish-Roman War.

I found the historical aspect of this book intriguing, as I did not know anything about Masada.  But the women were the glue that held this story together.  The strength and humanity, the love and hate, the joy and pain that all of these women endured during their lives made them come to life off of the page.  I cannot recommend this book enough.  I picked it because Amazon listed it as one of their “Top Books of 2011”.  I am taking it a step further, The Dovekeepers is Bookmomma’s top book of the year.  If you read nothing else I have recommended this year do yourself and favor and read this one.  It will transport you to another time and tell you a story that is so unique you will  not want to put it down.


About Bookmomma

"The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.” -Elizabeth Hardwick
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