The Dovekeepers

The Dovekeepers

A Novel

Book - 2011 | First Scribner hardcover edition.
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Over five years in the writing,

The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman's 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, 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 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 warrior's 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 Hoffman's masterpiece.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2011.
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition.
ISBN: 9781451617474
Branch Call Number: HOF
Characteristics: 504 pages :,map ;,24 cm
Alternative Title: Dove keepers


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May 12, 2018

It would have been better if there wasn't so much repetition of religious practices and superstitions. The story and approach could have been much better with less of the of the silly practices and beliefs.

Apr 08, 2018

Based on true history, four women manage to survive against all odds. There is both beauty and heartbreak in this story.

Apr 08, 2018

No wonder this book took five years to complete! The details are heartbreaking and necessary to hear for people who have never experienced suffering. However, it was really repetitive to experience the same details through several different lenses.

I also struggled to switch gears from one character (that I grew really attached to) to an entirely new character in the second part. I even had to read at least 5 or 6 pages before I figured out who this next main character was. I lost a little motivation because it started to feel like a different book.

I wondered why the author had not mentioned Jesus Christ at all. Referencing largely Josephus, she had to jump through some serious hoops to leave out the One Man who could have given these poor people eternal salvation from their hell on earth. Instead, she turned to black magic which left me feeling empty on the inside.

Still, I really enjoyed the way the author flowed with her wonderful word choice. Her vivid descriptions lent themselves to a picturesque showing of an important historical event.

Jan 14, 2018

This harrowing tale of four women who are at Masada when it falls to the Romans is a tad tedious. Masada is a key event in Israeli history. Yet, the focus of the book is on their lives and transgressions before the last day. The book is overly long and gives short thrift to the climatic real life ending.

Dec 14, 2017

"Dove Keepers" by Alice Hoffman is one terrific adventure story based on historical accounts during ancient times in old Isreal. The "Dove Keepers" is a story about four heroic women, all different from each other, one is a warrior, one is a healer, one is a mystic, and one is leader. The Jewish people are on the run from the Roman army that has invaded and is now destroying the nation. The escape is lead by families who walk through the desert searching for a safe haven locate on top of a mountain. As the families settle in to their new surroundings each person assumes a position within the community that would add to their survival. The dove keepers are persons who care for birds. Doves lay eggs which provides food to help sustain the group. As time passes, relationships form, young girls become young women, hormones start to kick in and love blooms. The rules and traditions of Jewish Culture are less important when your on the run! "Dove Keepers" is an exciting story that keeps the reader entertained and riveted til the very end. Full of outstanding scenic descriptions, well developed characters you want to know more about and action that take your mind's eye into uncharted territory. A must read. Already a feature film I can't wait to read it again.

Highly recommended!

Ghettostone Publications Editor/Chief


Nov 12, 2017

Loved this book! In fact reading was ruined for me for a bit because this was so fascinating and captivating.

AL_TATYANA Jun 13, 2017

This novel is set in ancient Israel, when 900 Jews held Masada for months against Roman armies. The story is based on the tragic event when warriors for freedom fought against trained soldiers. it is a mesmerizing story of courage seen through the eyes of the four extraordinary women, each holding to their own secrets and beliefs. Alice Hoffman's masterpiece is a testament to the human spirit.

TSCPL_Miranda Apr 05, 2017

An unforgettable novel! Powerful and dangerous women. The feminine aspect of God. Mysticism, destiny, history.

Mar 18, 2017

An epic tale that is told through the eyes of four women who were seeking refuge at Masada. The book was fascinating read and well-researched. The journey of each woman shows their suffering as the Roman legions take over their homeland and how their stories intertwine even more than first realized.

There was much mixing of paganism i.e. Ashtoreth and other rituals with the practices of Judaism. God clearly told his people that such practices were forbidden and would bring judgment. At this same time in history, there were Jews who had been taken captive to Rome and were embracing the gospel message of the Messiah.

If you enjoyed this book, you may want to check out the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers.

Jan 20, 2016

Most experts on ancient history remember the tragic siege of Masada, where hundreds of Jewish refugees committed suicide rather than surrender to the Roman army. The only survivors were two women and five children. A lot of the stories focus on the military aspects, but "The Dovekeepers" speaks from a different perspective; from the lives of four women. There's a suspected witch, an Amazonian warrior, a baker's widow who has seen untold horrors, and an abused, neglected daughter of an assassin.

Hoffman wraps her novel with fascinating details and intense, dream like imagery. The terrors of being persecuted in your own land by the Roman conquerers are distant as thunder at first, then gradually develop into the horrific storm of the nightmarish final nights. As you read on to find out who survives and who doesn't , the suspense becomes as taut as a tightrope. If you liked Anita Diamant's "The Red Tent", you'll love "The Dovekeepers".

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Jul 30, 2014

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