The Dovekeepers
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The Dovekeepers

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  32,633 ratings  ·  5,268 reviews
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...more
ebook, 512 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Scribner (first published January 1st 2011)
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Kim
There are many reasons why I wouldn’t like this book:

1. I hate feeling dumb.

2. It’s set in Ancient Israel, 70 C.E. to be exact, and the fact that I had to ask what C.E. meant --being a child of B.C and A.D --did not go over well (Refer to #1)

3. It’s set in Ancient Israel and I, shamefully, have absolutely no clue what happened back then. I mean… besides the Last Temptation of Christ and bible stories that I kind of sort of remember. (#1)

4. The author also wrote Practical Magic, which I have not...more
Amy
Nov 10, 2011 Amy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amy by: Sharon Kay Penman
Never before has a book entranced me the way The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman has. I’ve literally just finished reading this book and I can’t get my mind to settle down. It’s almost as if I’ve ran a race, my adrenaline is pumping and my heart beating a mile a minute, scenes from the book keep going around and around in my head. My urgent need to tell everyone about this beautifully haunting book is taking over all other thoughts, so I need to get this review out before I explode!

Alice Hoffman is...more
Jennifer Rayment
The Good Stuff

* I wish I had the words to express how wonderful this book is. I will be honest if Simon and Schuster hadn't sent it to me for review, I probably wouldn't have picked it up and let me tell you that would have been a shame. This book is haunting and sad but yet so full of hope and of the resilience of the human spirit
* Beautiful raw and honest story and just so god-damned emotional to read
* Exceptionally real and strong female characters
* History written so it comes alive and y...more
Janet
For fans of Alice Hoffman this book is a mixture of the new and the familiar. Devotees will recognize the strong women with unusual, even magical abilities. What's new is the historical setting and time---the fortress of Masada in the year 70 CE. Also, Hoffman's language struck me as different in this book.

I think whether or not readers like this book will hinge on their reaction to the language Hoffman uses to recreate the world of her women. I loved the level of detail. I felt the sea salt in...more
Christina White
Alice Hoffman brought me back in time and I enjoyed learning about what life was like in 70 C.E. The writing was beautiful and at times poetic. I like my poetry in short doses though and after two hundred pages of lyrical prose I was ready to move on with the story. I liked the book, in fact I was swept away in the lives of the brave women it was about. Revka, Aziza, Shirah and Yael were strong women who lived amazing lives and were the only survivors of the Masada massacre. Unfortunately, the p...more
Linda Hart
An exceptional read. This is a masterpiece, a wonderful, mesmerizing book about the lives of four strong Jewish women, each with different backgrounds, powerful personalities, and distinct stories of there own. Their histories collided when destiny/circumstances found them living at the Jewish stronghold, Masada, during the last and final siege by the Romans. According to the historian, Josephus, two of these women and five children survived the horrendous event.

I agree with Janet, a goodreads...more
Anna
The Dovekeepers on its surface sounds like it has the potential to be incredibly moving, and I had high hopes. Yet I found the reading to be more of an exercise in frustration and perseverance. The frustration is largely the result of the book's lack of development, which might sound weird to say about a 500+ page novel. It is described on its cover as a story of the siege of Masada, but fans of historical fiction will be sadly disappointed; the historical context is woefully underdeveloped. It...more
Carole
This is a work of historical fiction. The story is based on the Roman attack on the fortress at Masada in 73 A.D. and the resulting mass suicide. Since I have visited this site in present-day Israel, I was interested in reading a novel based on this event.

In terms of the history, Hoffman has done an admirable job of researching and narrating the events at Masada. She describes the time, place and culture of the ancient Hebrews with great detail.

However, in terms of the fictional part of the nove...more
Jason Golomb
"Dovekeepers" is the first book I've read of Alice Hoffmans'. In fact, one evening my wife looked at the book while I was reading in bed and said: "You're reading Alice Hoffman? I've read Alice Hoffman. But you don't read Alice Hoffman!"
And so I DID read Alice Hoffman and I liked Alice Hoffman. This is a very good book. It's real deep and very weighty.
"Dovekeepers" orbits around the real life events of the early 70s A.D. in ancient Judea. Rome was large and in charge and in the midst of shatter...more
Tania
The desire for Jerusalem was a fire that could not be quenched. There was a spark inside that holiest of holy places that made people want to possess it, and what men yearn for they often destroy.

I've realized that when I rate a book on GR, four stars mean that it's a really good book and that I would highly recommend it to most people, but when I rate a book five stars it mostly means that there was a personal connection with the book. This was definitely the case with The Dovekeepers, although...more
Louise
Story Description:

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,...more
Rachelle Urist
It's pure soap opera. When the story's moving, it engages. Otherwise, it's stagnant and annoying.

This book has the nasty whiff of Anita Diamont: phony historicity; extraneous research thrown in because she has it, not because it fits; names of objects (e.g.: "birthing stool") that are never explained (probably because the author is clueless about its use); predictable outcomes (of course Yael will fall in love with the enslaved legionnaire); repetitive themes and phrases, ponderous and heavy-han...more
Ben Kane
Every December, I trawl through the newspaper articles 'Best Books of the Year', noting down any titles that appeal to me. I'm picky, so it's usually only a few. In December 2011, The Dovekeepers was one of two titles that I wrote down. I'm usually pleased by these choices, recommended by other authors or academics, but rarely am I transported the way that I was upon reading this magical book.

Other reviewers have ably described the plotline, so I won't go into it here. Suffice it to say that the...more
Mandy R
The only reason I would give this book 2 Stars is due to the amount of research that Alice Hoffman had obviously put into this novel, which I certainly appreciated. Honestly though, I think that this roughly 500 page book could have been done in about 200 pages.

Poetic descriptions saturated this novel, making for an incredibly dull read. When an author spends two pages describing wind I would rather not read it. I get it, it's windy! It has no bearing on the plot, would you please move on with t...more
Sarah Ryburn
I've finally finished this lengthy read. Hoffman tells the tragedy of Masada, King Herod's mountain fortress and the refuge of 900 Jewish rebels and their families who fled the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, through four female narrators. What an experience! The place, Masada, and the struggle of its inhabitants to survive, their faith intact, came to vivid life through these pages, but it was not always an easy read. There were sittings when I read no more than 20 or 30 pages. That's unusual for m...more
Rhiannon Ryder
Between the unbelievable amount of accolades this book was getting and its intriguing historical background this book shot up to the top of my to be read pile, shortly after it's release. But reviewing it has turned out to be harder than I imagined. I've pecked away at a review for it for months now, without feeling like I was truly explaining my experience of reading The Dovekeepers.

Let me start by saying, everything that's been said about this book is true. It's lyrical, so completely evocativ...more
Deb Carpenter
Doves were caged and kept for a number of reasons. One of those reasons was so they would be ready and available for sacrifice. Another was so they could carry messages for their captors. Those who kept doves knew to send only one of a pair as a messenger so that the bird would return. Even though it was untethered and free to escape while on its mission, the dove would return to its cage, where its mate waited in the dovecote.
The dovekeepers understood the heart of the dove. “Love made you give...more
Cheryl
Over two thousand years ago a group of approximately 900 Jewish rebels fled Jerusalem and settled in the ancient fortress called Masada. Set high in the desert mountains, the fortress had been constructed for King Herod and was considered to be impenetrable. In this novel, Alice Hoffman traces the paths of four fictional women whose intertwined lives become apparent when they arrive at Masada seeking refuge. Hoffman weaves a tale of friendship, love, loyalty and sorrow set against the background...more
Victoria
I was a bit confused by the raving reviews of this. It is good. I like the idea of trying to represent the female point of view of an historical event, and I confess that I don't know a lot of Jewish/Israeli history, so it was a more interesting starting point to pinpoint me towards that history, however the writing style is extremely irritating. For the first few chapters, I wondered if I had stumbled across a Mills and Boon historical fiction series, and surely some of the sex scenes describe...more
Bette BookAddict
Mar 12, 2014 Bette BookAddict rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bette BookAddict by: Angela Always Reading's review

Alice Hoffman will teach the reader about an event which most of us know nothing about: this is a factual story with fictional characters interwoven. Four women who are refugees at Masada over 2000 years ago; Hoffman tells their story – will you listen?

 photo 300px-Masada_room_by_David_Shankbone_zpsde6483f8.jpg

this is where they worked: a dovecote at Masada


 photo masada-fortress-430588-xl_zps94cb3a4c.jpg

this is where they lived: the fortress at Masada

A colossal triumph; Hoffman shines in this endeavour which took her five years to write. Interesting? Hell, yeah! This story, the fact and the fictio...more
Bruce Stern
Extraordinary! Four strong and different women escape the Roman genocide of Israel and surrounding lands with family, with children, but no husbands in tow. These are captivating, sensuous, passionate, resourceful, resilient, jealous, and magical women, and much more. Alice Hoffman constructed a beautiful, heartfelt and heartbreaking story about tragedy, forgiveness, the capacity of individual tragedy, and the female and human ability to live and love and thrive in spite of terrible hardship.
I c...more
Vicki
4½. I have changed my rating for this book three times so far. I was fascinated by this story but I couldn't quite get to five stars.

In 70 AD nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on a mountain outside the Judean desert, Masada. (taken from the book blurb). The Dovekeepers is a fiction using this event as a base. The style reminds me of Geraldine Brooks and is as good as the books she has written.

During the first part of the book I struggled with the social and religiou...more
Dan Radovich
I LOVE this latest work from Alice Hoffman. I have seen some reviews complain that the story is too long, too detailed, too bogged down with history - but that is exactly what this wonderful work is. She is at writing at the top of her craft, mixing classic Hoffman character traits into a wonderous piece of history. The women that populate this retelling of the Masada saga are some of her strongest to date. Each of these women captizated me in different ways - each so very different yet all tied...more
Phrynne
It was okay but I would not rush out and recommend it to anyone. It was certainly much longer than it needed to be and some parts like the journey through the desert went on and on until boredom set in. I was also unsure about the "strong" female characters. They were strong in many ways but apparently even strong women become babbling idiots when they fall in love with the man of their dreams. As a historical novel it fulfilled its purpose - I was happy to learn so much about this period of tim...more
Jessica at Book Sake
When I read a book like The Dovekeepers, I find myself at a loss when trying to review it. I don’t feel that my words can do justice to the story and wonderful writing that Alice Hoffman brings to this novel. I scrambled to read this novel at the last minute, and even having read it for free, I know it will be a book that I will go out and purchase to read once more, and make everyone I know read it also. The story tells the separate but intertwined stories of four women during the Roman occupat...more
Rose Mary Achey
The Dovekeepers is a story of four women living in 75 C.E. C.E. means Common Era a measurement of time that is gaining popularity in literature. The Roman Empire is set about to dominate and these four women are trapped in King Herod’s former compound with about 1000 others who have fled their homeland. They work in a dovecote-a place that houses thousands of doves. They gather their eggs and more importantly, their excrement which is used as fertilizer for their fragile orchards. Alice Hoffman...more
Amy S
This has been a hard one to rate, I would say I am at 4.5. I go back and forth between four and five stars. This was another book that I had to stop cold in the middle as we moved, and so I had to pick it back up after a break and that's affected my rating as well! Anyway, on with it!

The book is set 70 CE, when the Romans were systematically destroying all Jews. They hunted down each population, city, group, and slaughtered them; men, women, and children. Any spared were given a life of brutal s...more
Tony
THE DOVEKEEPER. (2011). Alice Hoffman. **.
I used to be a great fan of Ms. Hoffman, though my enthusiasm began to decline as her stories moved more and more into the realm of the supernatural. With this novel, her first in five years, she has finally achieved the ultimate: She has morphed into a Victorian serial writer, like Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell. The book might have been delivered in serial form in “Household Words,” Charles Dickens’ magazine, or, specifically one of the magazines designed for...more
Sharon
I came across this book in a secondhand shop, and was entranced by the description. In 2008, I visited Masada -- in fact, attended a bar mitzvah held on the grounds - very moving; both the bar mitzvah and the site. It reminded me a lot of Gettysburg in that I was aware of a spirit/sense of importance embedded there somehow. This is what drew me to the book.

I finished it; and I would say by a brief look at other people's reviews, I'm one of a few people who didn't love it. There are parts that ar...more
Elisha Condie
My dear mother, who reads everything and who KNOWS I don't like sad books gave me this because we both like Alice Hoffman. Which was nice. And then it all went wrong.

This book is told in 4 sections about Jewish women who end up in the Jewish city of Massad just before it's wiped out by the Romans. Yael is the first and she's neglected by her horrible father who hates her and nearly starves to death and gets pregnant in the wilderness after they flee Jerusalem. Then she ends up at Massad and m...more
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Pages Podcast: June Read: The Dovekeepers 1 5 Jun 05, 2014 07:58PM  
Ladies & Lite...: * Official November 2012 Book Discussion: The Dovekeepers 62 134 Apr 15, 2014 11:27AM  
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Historical Fictio...: The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman 51 217 Sep 13, 2013 10:57AM  
Finished The Dovekeepers! 19 200 Sep 02, 2013 07:12PM  
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Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently lives in Boston and New York...more
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“Here is the riddle of love: Everything it gives to you, it takes away.” 62 likes
“I knew what it was to yearn for a life so distant it seemed that it had never been anything more than a dream.” 34 likes
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