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The Dovekeepers

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  69,920 ratings  ·  8,204 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 survived. B
Hardcover, 504 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Simon and Schuster
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Linda Sands I listened to the entire book on audio- car listening and treadmill listening the best. Life Hack: change the pace of the reading to +1.75. You will c…moreI listened to the entire book on audio- car listening and treadmill listening the best. Life Hack: change the pace of the reading to +1.75. You will cut HOURS off the time and it makes yo really pay attention. I loved that i knew the correct pronunciation of the names at book club.
Terri Can't wait to watch ... Ziva (Cote de Pablo) from NCIS will be playing the Witch of Moab. CBS March 30/April 1…moreCan't wait to watch ... Ziva (Cote de Pablo) from NCIS will be playing the Witch of Moab. CBS March 30/April 1(less)

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 ·  69,920 ratings  ·  8,204 reviews

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Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mmxi, contemporary
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
Amy Bruno
Oct 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Will Byrnes
We were no different from the doves above us. We could not speak or cry, but when there was no choice we discovered we could fly. It you want a reason, take this: We yearned for our portion of the sky.
Masada, the word summons up images, war, Romans, Zealots, slaughter, mass suicide. A place of national pride for some, historical and archaeological controversy for many, a bit of Python mockery to others. On visiting the place itself Alice Hoffman was inspired to wonder about the experience of
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
Jennifer Rayment
Aug 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
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
B the BookAddict
Apr 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to B the 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
Linda Hart
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Christina White
Nov 17, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Nov 17, 2020 rated it liked it
I liked it and might even have loved it had it been shortened by 100 pages

A fascinating period of history impeccably researched and tightly woven into an interesting tale taking the reader back in time to the first century Masada an ancient mountaintop fortress in southeastern Israel. The site of the Jews’ last stand against the Romans after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans. Two women and five children survived to tell the tale
Angela M
Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was absolutely taken by this amazing story which was based on historical events of which I knew nothing about. The writing is beautiful and the story of these strong and willful women will remain with me for a long time.
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars

”We came like doves across the desert. In a time when there was nothing but death, we were grateful for anything, and most grateful of all when we awoke to another day.”
”We had been wandering for so long I forgot what it was like to live within walls or sleep through the night. In that time I lost all I might have possessed if Jerusalem had not fallen: a husband, a family, a future of my own. My girlhood disappeared in the desert. The person I’d once been vanished as I wrapped myself
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Masada was a historic Jewish fortress that stood on huge rock in Judea (now southern Israel) In 73 CE 960 Jewish patriots killed themselves as Masada rather then surrender to Roman forces. For many Israelis their devotion to liberty is a national symbol called the spirit of Masada. This is a fictional story of four women who may have lived there.

I was thoroughly entranced by this tour de force-a definite masterpiece of 21st century literature. This brilliant novel takes us back to Ancient Israel
Sean Barrs
This was massively underwhelming. The plot was terrible; it had no real development or drive. In reality, it barely existed at all. The story just followed the lives of some rather mundane characters. There was little to keep me reading. They weren’t really striving for anything, beyond survival; thus, I found myself getting quite bored with their stories. They just weren’t very remarkable. The historical detail was minimal, and the random magic elements that were worked in the plot were just so ...more
Diane Wallace
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Awesome read! could not get enough of the the plot twist and characters.. A.Hoffman is a great author..(paperback!)
Cathrine ☯️
Oct 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: group-challenge
Being a huge AH fan I’m somewhat embarrassed with my rating and reception to this novel. With only a couple of exceptions, every GR friend who read it rated it very highly. Writers Toni Morrison and Wally Lamb praised it as well. So what’s up with me? I offer up my thoughts for those very few of you who also struggled.

I ended up feeling like many of the Jews wandering in the desert for forty years, except for me it was forty years of five hundred pages. Initially, the chosen people were hap
Elyse  Walters
Jan 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Judea AD 70 ..."The First Jewish-Roman War"

In the years after the destruction of the second temple, approx. 900 Jewish rebels and their families fled Jerusalem and took refuge in the fortress of Masada in the Judean desert.

Women Dovekeeper's: collecting birds eggs, gathering droppings to ferlise the fortress's orchard's.
These women tending to the Masada's dovecotes, formed a small community within a larger one. They each bring their conflicts with them. They live with guilt, grief, loss, fami
Jul 18, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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
May 29, 2013 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: anyone who has a table with one leg an inch too short
Recommended to Susan by: Book group
I wore garments of green, white, and blue as I traversed the distance from my chamber to the chamber of Lynda, who lives in a county where rivers run not to the great inland sea where I can watch the sun rise every morning, but to the river that once formed the boundary between our land and lands of the Spanish Empire before an audacious Corsican who tried to conquer all of Europe agreed to sell them to the United States under President Thomas Jefferson.

Moving toward the setting of the sun, whi
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Once again a book I picked up because of book club. One of the few books I have read in my life that made me sob like a baby at the end. I've heard they're making this into a mini series and I can't wait for it if they do. I enjoyed the four stories of the women and how they meshed together. An emotional ride for anyone who reads. Such an outstanding work of art based on four women who come together and become family despite their backgrounds. Really enjoyed! ...more
Apr 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Diane S ☔
Oct 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
What an amazingly powerful novel about the fall of Jerusalem and Masada. This took Hoffman five years to write and it is said to be her masterpiece, which for me it was. Four women of uncommon strength of will, magic , love and their quest for survival. Her writing is flawless, one feels the barrenness and the struggle for life in the dessert, their torment as they watch their family members taken from them, yet find the will to go on. Trying to keep their faith in God intact and find a way to r ...more
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book has been called Alice Hoffman's masterpiece, her most ambitious and mesmerizing writing, and I surely agree. This is the richly told story of four strong and mysterious women from diverse paths who find themselves drawn together as sacred dovekeepers for the 900 Jews who held off the fierce Roman army for months in the Judean desert at the mountain fortress Masada. No doubt you know something about the famous siege, and this great fictional (yet fact related tale) has all of the ancien ...more
Rachelle Urist
May 11, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was more like a 10 star for me.....think it’s her best yet that I have had the pleasure to read. This novel just touches on so many conditions of human struggles, & no more than the times of Roman conquerers trying to wipe out the Jews, by attacking on their home grounds. The four main characters are women, who come up against the worst of times, and never give up. It is a story of their loves in life, that wasn’t exactly a rose garden.....very strong heroines, can’t pick a favorite, loved ...more
Mandy R
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wow, a lot going on here. A bit repetitive and mighty superstitious, ancient times are presented here in a not-too-graphic presentation. My first Alice Hoffman, but I have some more of hers to read on my list. This book has been on my TBR since 2012, so I am happy to report finishing, and well worth it.

Herbane, holy plant.
Burned amulets at roots offering to Ashtoresh, goddess watch in time of strife.
Recipe book for human heart, all we know and all experienced contained there.
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Alice Hoffman fans
One of my top 10 books of 2020!

The Dovekeepers is an impressive book. It’s my third by Alice Hoffman, and her writing style never fails to put me under a spell. Each and every page clearly demonstrated how much research went into not just the historical but also the social and spiritual aspects of first-century Judea. Hoffman wove a beautiful tapestry with her words, evoking strong emotion and creating a tangible atmosphere.

I’ll admit, The Dovekeepers was at times a challenging book to read: lon
Sharon Metcalf
Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: logan-bookclub, 2018
3.5 stars

There was something about Alice Hoffman's work of Historical Fiction -The Dovekeepers- that had me feeling ambivalent. Yes, I liked it but I wasn't as enraptured by it as other GR friends were.

Set in Israel in 71 CE most of the story took place within the walls of the Masada fortress. Having fled Jerusalem after the Romans stormed in and massacred the locals, the four female protagonists had each found their way through the harshest conditions, overcoming all manner of challenges and h
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Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The World That We Knew, The Rules of Magic, The Marriage of Opposites, Practical Magic, The Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on Earth, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, and The Dovekeepers. Her most recent novel is Magic Lessons. She lives near Boston.

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