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There is no peace to be found here, there is no olive branch... Suspicious, guarded, and impassioned, four disparate women find themselves in the ancient and foreboding fortress of Masada only to realize that for them, there is no refuge-- from mankind, or destiny. While dutifully tending the doves, their stories and secrets unfold and their lives entwine through creative and talented writing by Hoffman, and nicely performed narration. With the ferocity of the warriors they are surrounded by, and their inherent spirit, the women come to embody and protect those very traits the doves they care for symbolize: family and love, gentleness and peace. While each narration is compelling, I found the historical research and wonderfully detailed descriptions--ancient Masada (with its mysterious and mystical history), and the austere beauty of the Judean desert--to be the sensory hooks that kept my interest more so than the characters. I understand the technical difficulties that are inherent in pulling 4 distinct personalities from one head, and with that said, there are times during the narration that the characters lose their individuality and definition, causing the tight thread of a great story to slacken a bit. The genre of "Magical Realism" is difficult for analytical readers...When characters possess such prescience, the ability to think beyond societal parameteers with the wisdom of centuries, AND magical powers, I always end up asking myself, "so, why are they in such predicaments;" if they can conjure the rains and summon spirits, why don't they find better living quarters, monogamous mates, a decent meal? As the novel concludes, when the pairs of doves are released from the holds of the massacred city to fly and live on, I realized the answer and who the dovekeepers are. Agree it is reminiscent of Red Tent; an entertaining and slightly haunting read to let your mind drift through, with the possible caveat to SOME male readers, there is no "kind" in mankind in this novel.
29 of 32 people found this review helpful
Hoffman is a gifted writer and her prose is solid. However, this book didn't keep me enthralled and waiting for what happened next. The four narrators don't flow well from one to the other and I stopped caring what happened to the characters after the second narrator finished. Perhaps if the whole tale were told from the first narrator's point of view, I would have felt more of a connection to the women. Well written, but doesn't live up to the excellent reviews.
55 of 62 people found this review helpful