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The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
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Aug 31, 12

Read in October, 2011 — I own a copy

I suppose that if you loved fairy tales as a child, you will love Alice Hoffman's work and this holds true of her latest work The Dovekeepers, which is a novel about the Masada. As with other Hoffman novels, The Dovekeepers has elements of magic, but this epoch tale is dynamic and emotionally gripping.

Hoffman was so moved by her visit to the Masada, that she did research about it and read Josephus account which related that there were two women and five children who survived. It seemed as if it was a story which Hoffman was compelled to write and I am glad she did.

The novel is told from the perspective of four different women, each with a unique voice and a separate path to the Masada. While I love a story, which is told from varying perspectives, I am undecided about its value in this one and perhaps it is because I felt so tied to Yael the first to tell her story and I felt she was lost a little bit in the later parts of the book. However, having said that I wouldn't have missed Revka's or Aziza's stories. Here is a glimpse of Yael :

"Once I had come upon a leopard, though such a sighting was extremely rare. I was silent beside some rocks where birds were nesting, waiting for one to find its way closer so that I might fall upon it. I glanced up, and there stood the leopard, dun-colored with black spots, large, surel powerful enough to kill me. My heart thudded. I was seized by the sheer desire to live. I stood upon a rock and lifted up my shawl and made myself fierce, my red hair blowing out behind me, my face snarling, my scream the scream of a leopard. The creataure glanced at me, startled, then darted away."

Hoffman's writing captures my heart and leaves me spellbound, but for those who need a more factual, realistic account it may disappoint. If you love a bit of magic and mythology, and are drawn to stories of strong women in a time of danger this may be a book for you.
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