Tuesday 17 July 2018

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

An extract from the blurb:

"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." 

I've read quite a few Alice Hoffman novels recently. I've enjoyed the fantasy aspects of them - the idyllic childhoods, but with pain and hardship too (The Rules of Magic, The Story Sisters, Practical Magic). This is not like any of those. It's not like Faithful either.

It's great historical fiction, written with a poetic touch. 

“Being human means losing everything we love best in the world," she murmured as she released me. "But would you ask to be anything else?” 

“But now I understood that, although words were God's first creation, silence was closer to His divine spirit, and that prayers given in silence were infinitely greater than the thousands of words men might offer up to heaven.”

The dovekeepers - the Assassin’s Daughter; the Baker’s Wife; the Warrior’s Beloved; the Witch of Moab are all completely different, all unique, strong and subject to incredible hardships. History is subject to the personal stories of these beautiful women in this book. It's enchanting, absorbing, mesmerising and unforgettable,  yet also sad, and difficult to get through in parts.

3 stars

ISBN: 9781451617474

You may also enjoy Faithful by Alice Hoffman or Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

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