Saturday, March 16, 2013
The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
This book tells the story, from the viewpoint of four women, of the siege of Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert, of nine hundred Jews, by the Roman army in the year 70 CE. The Jews had fled Jerusalem during a rebellion and they fled to a place that they thought would be safe.
The story is told by four women of widely different background. The thing that is common among them is that they worked in the dovecote. Which was used to provide both food for the community and fertilizer for the orchards.
I love Hoffman's language and turns of phrase and the way she looks at things. It is a mixture of magic and realism. The story is wonderfully told although I had trouble distinguishing the voices of the women as each told their story.
The story has more than fancy language though. It describes the brutal desert and rough way of life in a way that made me feel I was there. She tells the story of how the Jew's faith bound everyone together and how women had to carve out their own space within that faith for their special needs.
The book is fascinating. I give it five stars.