Search This Blog

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Dovekeepers

The Dovekeepers
Alice Hoffman
Scribner, 2011

This fictionalized account of the first century massacre at Masada unfolds through the voices of four women: Yael, the hated daughter of an assassin; Revka, a baker’s wife determined to protect her orphaned grandsons; a girl who fights battles disguised as a warrior; and her mother, a woman of mysterious powers. What unites all these women in this community is their assigned duty as dove keepers, where they learn to forgive each other in order to survive in an increasingly hostile time.

Hoffman fans may struggle through this massive volume, because it is a significant departure in style and content from many of her previous works. She spent a great deal of time researching the history behind the event, and this shows through the extensive detail and background that accompanies each character’s story. However, the long paragraphs and slow plot make this a tedious work to get through. Some may find it rewarding – but others may elect to just give up. After finishing it myself, I’m not sure it’s worth the long, hard slog to the end.

By the way, isn't the cover fantastic? It makes me wish I liked the book more!


Alice Hoffman has numerous novels to her name. Check them out at!

Other titles you may enjoy:

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley (2010)
Carrie settles into the shadow of Slains Castle in Scotland, creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors, and starts to write about the Jacobite invasion of 1708. When she can no longer tell the difference between today and centuries ago, is she dealing with an ancestral memory-- a memory that might destroy her?

Innocent Traitor by Allison Weir (2006)
A fictional portrait of Lady Jane Grey, the great-niece of Henry VIII, follows her turbulent life against the backdrop of Tudor power politics and religious upheaval, from her youth, to her nine-day reign as Queen of England, to its tragic aftermath.

Madame Bovary’s Daughter by Linda Urbach (2011)
A continuation of Flaubert's classic finds twelve-year-old Berthe cast off by society in the aftermath of her mother's suicide and sent to live with her impoverished grandmother, from where she eventually rises through the ranks of Charles Worth's famed fashion empire.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I were a bigger fan of Hoffman's work, but I am not. I did like her novel, "Here on Earth".