An epic, tragic, lyrical, true story in the capable hands of master storyteller Alice Hoffman, cannot go wrong. In many of her books, Hoffman’s characters are strong women who are involved with religion, medicine and magic. ‘The Dovekeepers’ is no exception. I knew the story of the ancient fortress of Masada, but was not aware that two women and five children survived the massacre on the night when the Jews committed mass suicide rather than submit to the Roman Legion. In this work of historical fiction, Hoffman describes the lives of four women who each came to Masada from different paths, so always in the back of my mind was, which one? who survives? how could that happen? Like in ‘The Red Tent’ by Anita Diamant, Hoffman fleshes out the stories of women and domestic and spiritual life in ancient times, in ways that are largely left out of the Bible. Hoffman has researched this haunting story well, and the reader definitely benefits from that.
Hoffman spent five years writing this novel and there is no doubt that it is a major contribution to literature and historical fiction. The author’s website does have a helpful glossary to which I will give you a link, however I felt that the glossary was not even necessary since the author always made clear what the Hebrew words meant by the immediate context. It is helpful if you wish to know more. What definitely is worthwhile on her website, is the gallery of pictures of the actual Masada. Here is the link to both and a video of the author speaking about the book.
Alice Hoffman’s Website