The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

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The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Mary Esther Judy
Reviewed by Mary Esther Judy
Summary: An exquisitely woven blend of history and fiction - and highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 512 Date: October 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0857205421

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Set in the last desperate days before the Roman siege on Masada (70CE), the lives of four women collide and merge. They are Yael, the daughter of a Sicarii assassin; Revka, the wife of a gentle baker who witnessed her daughters' rape and murder; Aziza, raised as a boy with the skills of a great warrior and Shirah, born in Alexandria to a mother well versed in ancient magic. All four have crossed the heartless desert on separate journeys to arrive at the last outpost against the Roman Legion, where 900 Jews held out for many, many months. Here they have little power and less hope, but each refuses to be a victim. All are harbouring deep secrets about their pasts, as they become the Masada's dovekeepers. With supplies dwindling and certain death drawing near, their uneasy bonds to each other strengthen as their truths are unveiled. They find an uneasy comfort that becomes true loyalty and empowerment. While few in their company survive to recount the tale, their story has lived on to haunt the deepest of memories.

This exquisitely woven story is a perfect blend of history and fiction, told in the sequenced voices of the women which overlap to take us on an unforgettable journey through the human spirit in an effortless flow. Fans of Hoffman will recognise her trademark characterisation, use of magical realism and sense of women's solidarity, but this book is so much more. Hoffman reveals much about the psychology of these women and those surrounding them. The texture and imagery of the story is palpable. The sensory impact of the language is affective, as the reader can taste the desert landscape and is assaulted by the scents, sounds and visions contained within the story. The history imbedded in the text is well researched and beautifully expressed. This book is unlike anything Hoffman has written to date, yet in the same breath, it calls you to revisit her earlier works with new eyes. A masterpiece of storytelling, lyrically written, both illuminating and harrowing, this is the most remarkable book I have read in a long time.

If you enjoyed this book, then you might also like The Birth House by Ami McKay, Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan or The Outlander by Gil Adamson. We also liked The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman.

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Buy The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman at


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