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Publisher's Summary

Over five years in the writing, Alice Hoffman’s most ambitious and mesmerizing work ever, a triumph of imagination and research set in ancient Israel.
The author of such iconic bestsellers as Illumination Night, Practical Magic, Fortune’s Daughter, and Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on Earth, Alice Hoffman is one of the most popular and memorable writers of her generation. Now, in The Dovekeepers, Hoffman delivers her most masterful work yet - one that draws on her passion for mythology, magic, and archaeology and her inimitable understanding of women.
In 70 C.D., 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. Based on this tragic historical event, Hoffman weaves a spellbinding tale of four extraordinary, bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom comes 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 lives of these four complex and fiercely independent women 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.
This novel is Alice Hoffman’s masterpiece.
©2011 Alice Hoffman (P)2011 Simon & Schuster, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"Beautiful, harrowing, a major contribution to twenty-first century literature." (Toni Morrison, Nobel Laureate in Literature)
"I am still reeling from The Dovekeepers - from the history Alice Hoffman illuminates, from the language she uses to bring these women to life. This novel is a testament to the human spirit and to love rising from the ashes of war. But most of all, this novel is one that will never be forgotten by a reader." (Jodi Picoult, author of Sing You Home)
“In her remarkable new novel, Alice Hoffman holds a mirror to our ancient past as she explores the contemporary themes of sexual desire, women's solidarity in the face of strife, and the magic that's quietly present in our day-to-day living. Put The Dovekeepers at the pinnacle of Hoffman's extraordinary body of work. I was blown away.” (Wally Lamb, author of The Hour I First Believed)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Mel on 11-16-11

No Olive Branch

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.

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32 of 35 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Kate on 10-14-11

Draining story - but beautifully written/told

Do not 'read' this if you are depressed. The writing is lovely. The narration is incredible. But your heart will break again & again. I'm torn between my appreciate for the wonderful aspects of this story & the sadness it drew out of me. I guess that's a sign of a good book.

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30 of 33 people found this review helpful

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