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The Dovekeepers: A Novel | [Alice Hoffman, Heather Lind]

The Dovekeepers: A Novel

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.
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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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    04-11-12
    04-11-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "travel to Israel while reading this book."
    What made the experience of listening to The Dovekeepers the most enjoyable?

    as a prelude to traveling to Israel, I started this book, knowing I would be visiting many places described in the book. I read about the hiding of children behind the waterfalls, and visited Ein Gedi. But most exhilerating was visiting Masada and seeing the ancient dovecotes, and the cistern. It was a bone chilling and exciting experience.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Of course, Yael, the main protaganist. her story of enduring forbidden stolen love and her desire to survive drove her to escape the supression of her life.


    Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    yes some of them all were very good.


    If you could take any character from The Dovekeepers out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Yael and order her anything but poultry.


    Any additional comments?

    best read in a while ! but most of my reads from Audible are excellent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Library United States 04-02-12
    Library United States 04-02-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Historically interesting"

    The book contains 4 stories of 4 different women, sort of like "The Help" because each one is voiced by a different actress. The best one was the older woman character (forgot her name) voiced by Tovah Feldshuh. The first woman character was flat and not compellingly read in my opinion.

    I am familiar with the Jewish/Hebrew terms used throughout this book and I was surprised when a couple of the narrators got some pronunciations wrong. Why would the producers let this happen? It is so annoying! Really, it is not that hard to have someone check this before giving to the reader. It takes you out of the narrative when you are listening.

    As far as the plot of the book, it is slow and builds up to the ending that everyone already knows, because everyone knows what happened at the top of Masada. But Hoffman sets up all the pieces well so that by the end, even though I think the book could have been edited down about 80 pages and still been fine, it was a satisfying ending. I was riveted by the last two discs, but before that, it took a bit of time to care about the characters. I did not mind the magic/witchcraft stuff mostly because it was historically accurate and it was not really supernatural particularly, it was just the way they believed at the time.

    Some could fault some of the over-reaching prose that takes on a Biblical feel and can be over-the-top in descriptions of feelings. I certainly noticed that flaw but ignored it.

    I think the author did an admirable job in setting and place and making you feel the stifling conditions of the book. She even did not necessarily consider these ancient zealots to all be heroes as the "Masada Myth" makes them out to be in our time. They were a complex group of individuals who were not all good--they also committed atrocities as their enemies did.

    All in all, a worthwhile choice for those who like brooding, dark history with a feminine perspective.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cesar Metepec, Mexico 03-14-12
    Cesar Metepec, Mexico 03-14-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Great Story, Great Characters."
    Where does The Dovekeepers rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the best.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Dovekeepers?

    When they decided who will keep and take care of their children.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Maybe when one of them reveal, after decades, she was the one who took care of Yael when she was a little girl.


    Any additional comments?

    This is one of the books you cannot put down. It has passion, friendship, suspense and a message to all of us about the true nature of woman, their relation to God, their friendship between women, and their capability to love and survive. Five easy stars.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edward Weston, FL, United States 03-08-12
    Edward Weston, FL, United States 03-08-12 Member Since 2014
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    "A lovely story of life in the time of the Bible"

    Usually, I like to listen to action-packed thrillers while I exercise. But every once in a while, I download a book that’s a total departure one of my usual selections. The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman was such a fortunate choice.
    I found the performance to be poetic and stirring. It is the story of the Zealots, who died by their own hands on Masada after being besieged by the Tenth Roman Legion in the early part of the Common Era. I enjoyed the author’s description of ordinary life in biblical times, as told from the viewpoint of a young woman. The most interesting thing about The Dovekeepers is its use of the Bible as a guide book and a history book.
    I have stood atop Masada. The ramp that was built by the Romans still stands. Herod’s castle has been restored. So, I was able to see myself taking part in page after page of this lovely book.
    For me The Dovekeepers was a meaningful, carefully crafted voyage into the violent history of civilization’s earliest days.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Danielle Liverpool, NY, United States 03-06-12
    Danielle Liverpool, NY, United States 03-06-12 Member Since 2012

    Love to read, and love to hear a book read to me.

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    "Not quite what I was hoping"
    What did you like best about The Dovekeepers? What did you like least?

    Intriguing idea and inventive story telling, but the first story was too detailed and other stories left too much out. The pacing was off. Having a different reader for each character was terrific, but the first reader did not pronounce the Hebrew words correctly and it was terribly distracting.


    If you’ve listened to books by Alice Hoffman and Heather Lind before, how does this one compare?

    I listened to The Red Garden, which was also good but not great, though the reader, Nancy Travis, was excellent.


    Did the narrators do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    Yes. Each had their own style, but they couldn't overcome some weaknesses in character development and pacing.


    Could you see The Dovekeepers being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Definitely. Not sure of actresses.


    Any additional comments?

    I really wanted to love this book, but I didn't. There was enough that was interesting to keep me going, but it always felt a little bit like work. I was very much looking forward to the Big Speech by the group's leader (history tells that he was very eloquent), but it wasn't especially inspiring, and the female reader did a terrible job trying to sound like a man's voice. Disappointing. Not a bad book, but not as good as it could and should have been.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    vickey Fort Collins, CO, United States 03-05-12
    vickey Fort Collins, CO, United States 03-05-12
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    "Disappointed"
    Where does The Dovekeepers rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    As an audiobook it was great


    Would you be willing to try another book from Alice Hoffman and Heather Lind ? Why or why not?

    I would be unlikely to buy another book by these authors. I found myself depressed after reading it.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth 02-27-12
    Elizabeth 02-27-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Great story and great readers!"
    Would you listen to The Dovekeepers again? Why?

    Yes


    What other book might you compare The Dovekeepers to and why?

    Michner's historical novels


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    yes


    Any additional comments?

    The characters are well-developed and true. They are very diverse and each is enjoyable and understandable. Great book about people in a historical period and their daily lives. It flowed well while incorporating many characters and many daily issues.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristine The Colony, TX 02-02-12
    Kristine The Colony, TX 02-02-12
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    "Great Read"
    Would you listen to The Dovekeepers again? Why?

    I would listen to this again because of the different perspectives each character brings to this story. The characters are interesting - some I could connect with while others were not good people but I still wanted to hear what they were thinking and experiencing. I really felt that listening to the audio version brought life to this book since each section was based on a different character and therefore had a different voice. Hearing the struggles each of these women go through is difficult at times, but by listening to the story you experience it with them.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Dovekeepers?

    One of the most memorable scenes was when Revka describes the death of her daughter at the hands of the Romans - and her revenge.


    What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

    I liked that each of the narrators's voices matched the character they were portraying and did so believably.


    If you could rename The Dovekeepers, what would you call it?

    The last warrior women of Masada


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lindsey 01-31-12
    Lindsey 01-31-12

    I have to save my sensitive eyes for thesis-writing, so audiobooks are how I keep up with my favourite authors and have fun.

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    "Absolutely Beautiful"

    Well worth a listen. This book is both introspective and poetic, yet filled with a surrounding tension on every page. It follows the inner lives of four women, all of whom are trying to live their lives with their children and lovers while teetering on the brink of extinction.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    julie Livingston, Tx, United States 01-18-12
    julie Livingston, Tx, United States 01-18-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Worth committing to the 19 hours!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Dovekeepers the most enjoyable?

    Having different readers for each character made the story seem like these women were telling it to me!


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked that it was about women, strong women, and the ways that they supported and helped each other. I also liked that the characters interconnected by the end of the story.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I can't say that there was one that sticks out in my mind, but the story and readers created impressionable visual pictures throughout the book. There are some scenes that are hard to get out of your mind once you have read them.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, this book is too long to listen to in one sitting, It is important not to leave it for months though as it will be hard to understand all the relationships in the story.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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