15 reviews

The Dovekeepers: A Novel
by Alice Hoffman

Published: 2011-10-04
Kindle Edition : 528 pages
24 members reading this now
76 clubs reading this now
18 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 15 of 15 members
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 ...

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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. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman’s novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father, an expert assassin, 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 young grandsons, rendered mute by what they have witnessed. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and an expert marksman who finds passion with a fellow soldier. Shirah, born in Alexandria, 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. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets—about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love. The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman’s masterpiece.

Editorial Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2011: Yael was born of a dead mother and father who knows how to become invisible. Revka learned silence when her grandsons lost their voices after witnessing their motherâ??s brutal murder. Aziza became a boy to protect herself, and hates being forced to turn back into a woman. And Shirah will do anything to protect those she loves from the horrors of the world. The power and violence of these women is evident in every word of The Dovekeepers. Hoffmanâ??s prose is vivid and unforgettable, scorching like the desert heat, and will stay with you long after you finish the last page. A story of sacrifice, endurance, and above all, survival, The Dovekeepers is homage to anyone whoâ??s ever held fast to their beliefs in the face of nearly insurmountable adversity. --Malissa Kent


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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

What did you learn about the role of women in the culture?
by dlcox (see profile) 11/04/15

Power of female friendships.
The healing and the destructive power of love.
The importance of the family unit.
by sonyalmoore (see profile) 09/10/14

Like "The Red Tent" there is a strong line of dicussion regarding female deities and how they appeal to people in Biblical times. Discuss why paternalistic monotheism came to prevail in the three main religions arising out of this area.
by barbchickweed (see profile) 07/28/14

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Keep a character list.
by bcarroll (see profile) 10/11/16
The most repeated complaint about this book is that it was hard to remember which woman was speaking and who was who's daughter or sister or brother. I would write them down as I read the book if I were to read it again.
by dlcox (see profile) 11/04/15
Use doves from a craft story to create a themed tablescape.

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
by Candellyn T. (see profile) 08/31/22

It was so mind numbingly slow. Why the question is just why????

by Judith E C. (see profile) 02/09/18

  "Not an easy read, but well worth the effort..."by Jill L. (see profile) 10/27/17

All I can say is Alice Hoffman did an outstanding job writing this ancient story. The book is broken into 4 parts and a conclusion, just know this from the beginning so it is easier to understand the flow... (read more)

by Laurie J. (see profile) 02/20/17

  "Soap Opera in the Desert"by Bea C. (see profile) 10/11/16

Everyone in our book club was glad they read this book, but most thought it was too long and convoluted. The thing that made this book gripping was the last 100 or so pages and the fact that it is based... (read more)

  "The Dovekeepers: A Novel"by Debbie C. (see profile) 11/04/15

I learned about the culture while enjoying the poignant story.

by Sharon J. (see profile) 08/14/15

  "The Dovekeepers"by Geri R. (see profile) 07/17/15

Historical fiction based on the Masada from the women's perspective. Love, hate, jealously, friendship and sexual awakenings

  "A fantastic novel (historical fiction)"by Amber L. (see profile) 10/15/14

I loved this book. I had never read anything about this battle or time and found Alice Hoffman wove so much historical detail and imagery of the time and place into an equally engaging story. Excellent... (read more)

by Sonya M. (see profile) 09/10/14

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