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The Dovekeepers
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This thread is to discuss The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman. Be prepared for spoilers!

Synopsis:

Blends mythology, magic, archaeology and women. Traces four women, their path to the Masada massacre. In 70 CE, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on a mountain in the Judean desert, Masada. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived.

Four bold, resourceful, and sensuous women come to Masada by a different path. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father 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 twin grandsons, rendered mute by their own witness. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and expert marksman, who finds passion with another soldier. Shirah is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power. The four lives intersect in the desperate days of the siege, as the Romans draw near. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets — about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love.


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Chapter Breakdown:



Date Sentence Pages PPDQ

July 22 Start: "The Assassin's Daughter" 3-61 Jex
End: "...prayed for grace from God"
July 23 Start: "We were given pressed..." 61-122 Jex
End: "...Did you think I wouldn't know"
July 24 Start: "My brother led a raid..." 122-178 Jex
End: "...what a woman my be driven to do"
July 25 Start: "When Yael first came to us..." 178-234 Karen
End: "...a reason to believe"
July 26 Start: "I went to the synagogue..." 235-292 Karen
End: "...but not the man she loved"
July 27 Start: "Our mother's face was..." 292-348 Karen
End: "...not my sister at all"
July 28 Start: "On the first day of the..." 349-406 Sonia
End: "...could stay away from fish"
July 29 Start: "They say that a woman who..." 406-462 Sonia
End: "...my wife, my daughter, my world"
July 30 Start: "All through the night our... 462-504 Sonia/Nancy
End: The End!



Debbie (debwood224) I'm reading this now. Just started Part Two.


Lára Definitely in for this one.


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Christine (inhalesbookslikepopcorn) | 1050 comments I'm in.


Sarah | 3273 comments I would like to read this if I can possibly squeeze it in. July may work for me. I can't totally commit but I would like to try.


Koula | 29 comments I am in for this one.


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Megan (celtic_girl) | 646 comments I'm in.


message 9: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Diorio (onyx2119) | 1 comments Definitely in for this one!


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Michelle | 8 comments I'm in, it's been sitting on my TBR shelf.


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Erin (ecardwell) Sounds interesting, I'm in


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Amanda (daughterofoak) | 3472 comments I am looking forward to reading this one. I'll have to request it from my library and hope I actually get it in time. I am still waiting for UnWholly.


Lára I wish we could start today! I had to bookmark this page and I´m checking on it almost every day, for I tend to forget easily the start date.

My library has 3 copies. All three currently available. I just hope they´ll be available on 21st July so I can start reading with you


ilovebakedgoods (Teresa) (ilovebakedgoods) I'm in for this one!

Lára -- how long can you keep a book checked out of your library? Maybe you could reserve a copy about a week or a few days before this buddy read starts and that way you'll have a secured copy ahead of time.


Koula | 29 comments I,m in


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Monika (lilacsinmay) | 4 comments I would luke to join in. I read the synopsis and wanted to read it so I'm in!


Katz Nancy from NJ (nancyk18) I downloaded and read this when it was first published since Alice Hoffman is one of my favorite writers. I was especially interested in this title since I am of the Jewish faith and climbed Masada way before there was a cable car. We also visited Masada and Israel again last Fall so it was with a special awareness that this book should have had extra meaning. I would like to join with others here to discuss this book.


message 18: by Karen ⊰✿, Fiction Aficionado (new) - rated it 3 stars

Karen ⊰✿ | 14147 comments Mod
Thanks Nancy - sounds like you will have a special perspective on this book. Would you be interested in writing some discussion questions for a day (or two...)?


Katz Nancy from NJ (nancyk18) I would be able to do this, Karen. Just let me know when they need to be ready and posted.


message 20: by Karen ⊰✿, Fiction Aficionado (new) - rated it 3 stars

Karen ⊰✿ | 14147 comments Mod
Great. Jex is working on a reading schedule of about 60 pages a day which will be posted soon. Looks like that will take 9 days (July 22- July 30 inclusive). Just let me know what day(s) suit you and we can put you on the schedule. Thanks!


Sheila Read (sread40) I loved this book when I was reading it, it was very sweet to read. It was like reading a diary.


Jessica | 24 comments I'm in!


Dorothy (dbell1) | 10 comments I'm in too. Alice Hoffman is one of my favorite authors and her take on the legend of Masada was riveting.


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Reading schedule is posted. Nancy - if you would like to post questions for one of the days just let us know which day and we can update the schedule. Thanks :)


message 25: by Nancy from NJ (last edited Jul 13, 2013 11:44PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Katz Nancy from NJ (nancyk18) I would like to post two questions on July 30th with the assumption that participants have finished reading the book.


message 26: by Karen ⊰✿, Fiction Aficionado (new) - rated it 3 stars

Karen ⊰✿ | 14147 comments Mod
No problems Nancy. I'll leave Sonia on the schedule to post the 'main' questions and you can post your two questions that day too :)


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Amanda (daughterofoak) | 3472 comments Yes! I found a hardcover copy of this at a FOL book sale. So, no waiting for a library copy for me :). This will be my first Alice Hoffman book.
I will be on vacation those days, so I may post my thoughts a bit later than everyone else.


message 28: by Karen ⊰✿, Fiction Aficionado (new) - rated it 3 stars

Karen ⊰✿ | 14147 comments Mod
Nice work Amanda! And no problems - enjoy your vacation :)


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Norelle (onefabknitter) | 13 comments I just got the kindle version. Looking Girard to reading this too.


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Norelle (onefabknitter) | 13 comments argh... Girard is meant to read as ...forward


message 31: by Karen ⊰✿, Fiction Aficionado (new) - rated it 3 stars

Karen ⊰✿ | 14147 comments Mod
lol
auto correct is great, huh? ;)


Debbie (debwood224) I was already most of the way through this great story before seeing this original post, and I couldn't put it down! I still want to take part in the discussion, so I will try to follow along with everyone. Great read!


ilovebakedgoods (Teresa) (ilovebakedgoods) Picking this up from the library today. Figured I should get it ahead of time in case someone else wanted to read it before I could! Won't start till 22nd, though.


Katz Nancy from NJ (nancyk18) Sheila wrote: "I loved this book when I was reading it, it was very sweet to read. It was like reading a diary."

Curious as to how you thought this was a "sweet read" considering the role of women in that ancient society and the ending.

Sorry if this is posted too early or requires a spoiler.


Clare Butler | 294 comments I'm in for this one


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Questions for Section 1 - July 22nd

1) The soldiers seem a bit intense! They killed a deaf boy, had massacres daily, used the temple as a stable, and even stole the gold plating that made up the temple! Reactions?

2) Yael has definitely had a rough childhood (and life for that matter) with her dad thinking of her as such a curse. Could you imagine being raised in such a way? Do you blame her for wanting to be invisible?

3) On top of "murdering her mother" she is cursed by being a ginger. Soul-less, haunted, demonic, etc. All words to describe her simply because of how she looks. Thoughts?

4) Were you surprised that both her father and brother became assassins in such a world? Do you think Yael would have followed and become an assassin had they not fled? Would you do it to fight for your religion/beliefs?

5) Sia and Ben, the first to notice Yael but in very different ways. Were you surprised that Yael would sleep with her only friend's husband?

6) What do you take from all of the lion symbolism? (Yael being a lion, Ben scarred by a lion, the dreams, etc.)

7) Were you surprised that Yael's father chose to go with her to find the cure for Ben and his family?

8) What are your initial impressions of the book? Do you like the writing style? Are you compelled to read further?



Sarah | 3273 comments Gonna try and do this. Just bought the book last week. Also trying to read a couple other books as well by the end of the month.


Katz Nancy from NJ (nancyk18) " Yael has definitely had a rough childhood (and life for that matter) with her dad thinking of her as such a curse. Could you imagine being raised in such a way? Do you blame her for wanting to be invisible?"

For those not familiar with Judaism, today even the very religious - the Haredim or Hasidic still consider women less than nothing. There position in life is to bear children, cook, clean and if their husbands are Torah scholars, they may work. They have children almost yearly and in some cases are pregnant at the same time as their daughters or daughter in laws too. Also, they are part of a society which believes in arranged marriages and they are married by 18 and have their first child at 19. Woe is the woman who is not considered marriage material or can't become pregnant. As far as religious life, women sit separately from men in synagogues and have no role in services other than pray in their seats. There is even a prayer men say in the morning thanking God for making them a man.

Is it any wonder then that Yael's father treats her this way?


Katz Nancy from NJ (nancyk18) "8) What are your initial impressions of the book? Do you like the writing style? Are you compelled to read further? "

I may very well be the only fly in the ointment here. I didn't so much care for the writing style as I didn't care for the way Hoffman presented the material. I felt no passion for the characters nor their plight. I kno9w the author did tons of research as this is a historical event and one can visit Masada and as a Jew, I thought I would love it, but something just didn't work for me. I even tried to reread it with little success. To sum it up I found this book overwritten and boring which seldom if ever happened to me while reading an Alice Hoffman novel.


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Christine (inhalesbookslikepopcorn) | 1050 comments Questions for Section 1 - July 22nd

1) The soldiers seem a bit intense! They killed a deaf boy, had massacres daily, used the temple as a stable, and even stole the gold plating that made up the temple! Reactions? Cruel. Creepy. Like another world.

2) Yael has definitely had a rough childhood (and life for that matter) with her dad thinking of her as such a curse. Could you imagine being raised in such a way? Do you blame her for wanting to be invisible? I wouldn't want to live like this, treated with less care than an animal, treated like a curse. I despise the father of Yael. I do not blame her for wanting to be invisible.

3) On top of "murdering her mother" she is cursed by being a ginger. Soul-less, haunted, demonic, etc. All words to describe her simply because of how she looks. Thoughts?
People like to judge other people, it happens every day in every place of the world. If you are different from the people in your community, if they find something suspicious, e.g. looks or behavior or whatever, they treat you differently/inferior which is sad. Otherness can enrich your world.

4) Were you surprised that both her father and brother became assassins in such a world? Do you think Yael would have followed and become an assassin had they not fled? Would you do it to fight for your religion/beliefs? Not surprised, but I was sad that a kind person like her brother devoted himself to darkness. He followed his father's role model. Yael is strong, she tends to like to be alone and invisible, I think she could have done it.

5) Sia and Ben, the first to notice Yael but in very different ways. Were you surprised that Yael would sleep with her only friend's husband? Why would she betray her only friend? Why sleeping with someone else's husband even if you are longing for someone who acknowledges you or pays attention to you? I don't understand that.

6) What do you take from all of the lion symbolism? (Yael being a lion, Ben scarred by a lion, the dreams, etc.) It's interesting, but as of now I do not know what to do with the bits and pieces that are presented to us. Maybe I understand the symbolism at a later point.

7) Were you surprised that Yael's father chose to go with her to find the cure for Ben and his family? No, he was scared to get sick and die as well, therefore he wanted to be somewhere else.

8) What are your initial impressions of the book? Do you like the writing style? Are you compelled to read further? The language is beautiful and I definitely want to know what happens next. I do not like the characters so far though.


message 41: by Nancy from NJ (last edited Jul 22, 2013 08:30AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Katz Nancy from NJ (nancyk18) I'm at the library and can't cut and paste on this computer for some reason but as an answer to number 3. Arabs and Jews were a nomadic people and so there might have been lots of physical features that were different. It always surprises people to meet native born Israelis with blonde hair and blue eyes.


Katz Nancy from NJ (nancyk18) The lion in Judaism represents one of the 12 tribes - in this case the Tribe of Judah. Judah was known as a young lion which to me represents power. In CS Lewis' books, the lion was suppoed to represnt Jesus Christ.


message 43: by Lára (last edited Jul 22, 2013 08:54AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Lára 8) What are your initial impressions of the book? Do you like the writing style? Are you compelled to read further?

All Alice Hoffman books are the same, this one too, and I decided to pass this one. I´ve read 33 pages and it was enough for me to see this one is no different than her other books, starting with Practical Magic.

She may be a good writer but her writing style annoys me. and I despise religious books in general
I tried


message 44: by Jex (new)

Jex (jexball) | 2227 comments Nancy wrote: "" Yael has definitely had a rough childhood (and life for that matter) with her dad thinking of her as such a curse. Could you imagine being raised in such a way? Do you blame her for wanting to be..."

Wow. Thanks for sharing that Nancy. I figured it was bad treatment because of the era, but people still do that? Makes my inner feminist sad.


message 45: by Jex (new)

Jex (jexball) | 2227 comments Nancy wrote: ""8) What are your initial impressions of the book? Do you like the writing style? Are you compelled to read further? "

I may very well be the only fly in the ointment here. I didn't so much care ..."


I've never read Alice Hoffman before, but I also couldn't get into this book. I feel nothing when reading it and am struggling through. Parts are interesting in the "I can't believe that's true" type of way, but that's only because it's based on a real war. I don't know, maybe it will get better.


message 46: by Jex (new)

Jex (jexball) | 2227 comments Nancy wrote: "The lion in Judaism represents one of the 12 tribes - in this case the Tribe of Judah. Judah was known as a young lion which to me represents power. In CS Lewis' books, the lion was suppoed to re..."

That makes a lot more sense why she uses the lion so much. I figured it was a symbol of strength or something, but didn't know the Judaic meaning.


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Imke (immie75) | 1642 comments Questions for Section 1 - July 22nd

2) Yael has definitely had a rough childhood (and life for that matter) with her dad thinking of her as such a curse. Could you imagine being raised in such a way? Do you blame her for wanting to be invisible?
I can’t imagine what it would have been like and I can understand why she would want to be invisible.

4) Were you surprised that both her father and brother became assassins in such a world? Do you think Yael would have followed and become an assassin had they not fled? Would you do it to fight for your religion/beliefs?
I wasn’t surprised that Yael’s father and brother became assassins, but I would have been surprised if Yael would have become one should they have stayed in Jerusalem. Her existence there seemed to be more about hiding herself away from her father. Her father wouldn’t have taught her. I would fight for my religion/beliefs, but I would not have become an assassin.

5) Sia and Ben, the first to notice Yael but in very different ways. Were you surprised that Yael would sleep with her only friend's husband?
No I wasn’t surprised, I didn’t think Yael and Sia were really friends, they were more companions and nice to each other. They were the only women and could only talk to each other.

6) What do you take from all of the lion symbolism? (Yael being a lion, Ben scarred by a lion, the dreams, etc.)
There is certainly symbolism in the use of the lion, but I don’t know what to make of it yet.

7) Were you surprised that Yael's father chose to go with her to find the cure for Ben and his family?
No, Yael’s father just wanted to get away from the family or the sick. I feel he is someone who only thinks about himself and his own hurt.

8) What are your initial impressions of the book? Do you like the writing style? Are you compelled to read further?
The writing style is not my favorite style to reed. It took me a lot of pages to get into the story. I will read further and I may get used to the way it’s written. The writing is a bit overdone and it makes me feel disconnected from the people involved.


message 48: by Jex (new)

Jex (jexball) | 2227 comments Lára wrote: "8) What are your initial impressions of the book? Do you like the writing style? Are you compelled to read further?

All Alice Hoffman books are the same, this one too, and I decided to pass this ..."


I feel ya Lara. I might give up on this one myself after I finish my section. I've been reading it for 2 weeks and barely made a dent because it's just not my style. I usually like stories about war and even a little about religion when it's an insight to culture (not when it's preachy, which I don't get from this book) but it just doesn't work here.


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Christine (inhalesbookslikepopcorn) | 1050 comments Nancy wrote: "The lion in Judaism represents one of the 12 tribes - in this case the Tribe of Judah. Judah was known as a young lion which to me represents power. In CS Lewis' books, the lion was suppoed to re..."

Thanks for mentioning this.


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Christine (inhalesbookslikepopcorn) | 1050 comments Just want to say this:

1) This is my first book by Alice Hoffman

2) I normally leave out on books with a religious touch


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