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The Dovekeepers by Alice  Hoffman
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The Dovekeepers (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Alice  Hoffman

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1,363865,632 (3.94)185
Member:whitewavedarling
Title:The Dovekeepers
Authors:Alice  Hoffman
Info:Scribner (2011), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Fiction, Historical Fiction

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The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman (2011)

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English (81)  Dutch (2)  All languages (83)
Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
Sometimes the most difficult reads are the most rewarding. The Dovekeepers took me a long time to read. I put it down at several points and had to come back to it. The writing was lyrical and dense with information. The book was obviously well-researched and is based on historical events. The voices of the characters rang with authenticity and their strength was earned through many trials. I could feel the desperation, the unquenchable thirst (both literal and figurative). The emotions were sensual, primal, and often brutal. The sheer courage of these women, their ultimate humanity and resolve reward the reader. Also, the events depicted here are not well-known, but deserve to be told. Hoffman tells this story with beauty, mysticism and an unrelenting commitment to the truth. I was profoundly moved. This is story that will remain with me for a long time. ( )
  TheLoopyLibrarian | Oct 13, 2014 |
I have been to Masada. I have gone up and down on foot. I was raised Jewish. I grew up with the stories of what happened. I knew how this would end. I enjoy Alice Hoffman. I know not to judge her books on summaries and movies. This book was not my favorite. I listened to the audiobook.
The story itself was solid, but took quite a while to become interesting. A lot of time, as other reviewers have said, was spent describing things and places in intricate detail. Given the number of people who left reviews saying they knew nothing about Masada, I can forgive the depth of detail. I just didn't find myself engrossed with the story until the last half. Yael and Revkah were not engaging stories compared to Aziza and Shirah. I really wanted just to hear Shirah's story. Hoffman's magical realism didn't really come into play with anyone other than Shirah. It just felt it was much longer than it needed to be.

The audiobook had some good qualities and some bad ones. First, each narrator got her own voice. There were different readers- at least three. I wasn't able to identify which reader did 2 narrators. What I didn't enjoy was what often happens with audiobooks: the drone. I appreciate and understand that it is not easy to do audiobooks. I have heard some phenomenal audiobooks where readers use their voice to engage the listener. It is like they are telling you the story rather than just reading it. I have heard very few like this. Most readers begin to drone on with little variation in vocality. They read in the same tone most of the book. This book had the drone. I fell asleep more than once while listening. All of the narrators were guilty of this.

I gave this 3 stars because it was a solid book, just not for me. ( )
  librarygurl | Oct 6, 2014 |
I have been to Masada. I have gone up and down on foot. I was raised Jewish. I grew up with the stories of what happened. I knew how this would end. I enjoy Alice Hoffman. I know not to judge her books on summaries and movies. This book was not my favorite. I listened to the audiobook.
The story itself was solid, but took quite a while to become interesting. A lot of time, as other reviewers have said, was spent describing things and places in intricate detail. Given the number of people who left reviews saying they knew nothing about Masada, I can forgive the depth of detail. I just didn't find myself engrossed with the story until the last half. Yael and Revkah were not engaging stories compared to Aziza and Shirah. I really wanted just to hear Shirah's story. Hoffman's magical realism didn't really come into play with anyone other than Shirah. It just felt it was much longer than it needed to be.

The audiobook had some good qualities and some bad ones. First, each narrator got her own voice. There were different readers- at least three. I wasn't able to identify which reader did 2 narrators. What I didn't enjoy was what often happens with audiobooks: the drone. I appreciate and understand that it is not easy to do audiobooks. I have heard some phenomenal audiobooks where readers use their voice to engage the listener. It is like they are telling you the story rather than just reading it. I have heard very few like this. Most readers begin to drone on with little variation in vocality. They read in the same tone most of the book. This book had the drone. I fell asleep more than once while listening. All of the narrators were guilty of this.

I gave this 3 stars because it was a solid book, just not for me. ( )
  librarygurl | Oct 6, 2014 |
I am not even sure where to begin to review this. The setting was beautiful. I easily visualized every character, every scene and felt every emotion. As usual, Hoffman's use of magic was so seamlessly included that is was more reality than magical realism. The historical research behind this book has sparked an interest in a portion of history I never considered all that much before today. Fascinating, breathtaking. Brilliant. The only thing I didn't like about this book is the picture on the cover, actually... ( )
  KRaySaulis | Aug 13, 2014 |
I liked and learned so much from this historical novel that I bought it after reading the library copy. While I generally don't enjoy novels with unhappy endings [and let's face it - the history of Masada ends in tragedy], the characters and their individual stories were fascinating. We have so many novels written about life in Roman Palestine that deal with early Christianity, that I found one written from a Jewish perspective refreshing.

The magic involved was a great touch, although I thought all the sexual relationships without marriage was a bit unrealistic. Sorcery plays a big part in my upcoming historical novel, [b:Rav Hisda's Daughter, Book I: Apprentice: A Novel of Love, the Talmud, and Sorcery|13542525|Rav Hisda's Daughter, Book I Apprentice A Novel of Love, the Talmud, and Sorcery|Maggie Anton|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1333225010s/13542525.jpg|19106814], that it was a wonderful surprise to discover another book touching on the same subject in approximately the same time period.

I highly recommend it.
[a:Maggie Anton|79249|Maggie Anton|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1333223189p2/79249.jpg] ( )
  Maggie.Anton | Jul 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
You could call it a hoopla sandwich. On the back cover, a blurb from a famous, widely respected author describing the novel as “a major contribution to 21st-century literature.” On the jacket flap, a publisher’s summary proclaiming this book to be the writer’s “masterpiece.” Yet in between, instead of a gripping work of fiction that lives up to this praise, is a long novel full of middling descriptions, hackneyed characters and histrionic plot twists.
 
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Let my burden be your burden, and yours be mine.
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We had been wandering for so long I forgot what it was like to live within walls or sleep through the night.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
In 70 CE, 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 has come 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.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 145161747X, Hardcover)

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 mother’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. Hoffman’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 who’s ever held fast to their beliefs in the face of nearly insurmountable adversity. --Malissa Kent

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:05 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A tale inspired by the tragic first-century massacre of hundreds of Jewish people at Masada presents the stories of a hated daughter, a baker's wife, a girl disguised as a warrior, and a medicine woman who keep doves and secrets while Roman soldiers drawnear.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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