Kinx's Book Nook: Review: The Dovekeepers

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Review: The Dovekeepers

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
Published by Simon and Schuster
Published in 2011
504 Pages
Historical Fiction
Purchased from Amazon

Synopsis: Blends mythology, magic, archaeology and women. Traces four women, their path to the Masada massacre. In 70 CE, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on a mountain in the Judean desert, Masada. According to the ancient Historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Four bold, resourceful, and sensuous women come to Masada by a different path. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the horrifically brutal murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her twin grandsons, rendered mute by their own witness. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and expert marksman, who finds passion with another soldier. Shirah is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power. The four lives intersect in the desperate days of the siege, as the Romans draw near. 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 a masterfully told tale of tremendous sadness and strength. Alice Hoffman captured, with great skill, the stories of four amazing women trying to survive Roman brutality. As you read, their stories will break your heart but also give you hope that the spirit cannot be destroyed.

Each woman had their own incredibly sad story to tell. Each lived with their own shame and pain on what they had done in the past. Ms. Hoffman created a Masada that was able to heal each woman’s pain even amongst tremendous violence and death. Yael, Revka, Aziza, and Shirah found their true destinies in a deserted palace in the middle of the desert. Their stories were so beautifully and tragically written that, at times, the words just took my breath away. I was, also, amazed at the bravery and strength each woman was able to find within themselves.

These four characters epitomized the incredible abuse and degradation that women faced during this time. Women were possessions for men; not individuals with their own intelligence and courage. Yael, Revka, Aziza and Shirah were able to rise above their treatment and glorify in what is meant to be a strong woman; to live and protect their loved ones.

Love is a predominant theme throughout the book. Each woman will go the depths of their own personal hell to be able to love and save their lover or children. At the same time, they have to deal with the shame that this love has caused. It seemed that, to Ms. Hoffman, brings great pain but also tremendous strength.

I really loved this book. It is so rich in historical detail that you could actually picture the desert and Masada in your mind. I read that Ms. Hoffman actually traveled to Masada and this book was the result of that trip. It must of have been an amazing trip.


  1. I've had this on my shelf of these days. Would it make a good book club pick? I found your blog via Oklahoma Women Bloggers -- I'm a fellow book blogger, OU grad and native Okie, but reside across the state line in Arkansas. Look forward to following your book reviews! Boomer Sooner!

    1. Thanks Melissa for the comment. In fact I read The Dovekeepers for my book club. It's perfect for any book club.



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