The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

In 70 C.E., Roman garrisons seized the city of Jerusalem, although a Jewish rebellion against the Roman empire had been in effect since 66 C.E., the destruction of the holy city escalated the violence. 

“The desire for Jerusalem was a fire that could not be quenched. There was a spark inside the holiest of holy places that made people want to possess it, and what men yearn for they often destroy.”

A small group of Jewish rebels, known as the Sicarii, fled to the ancient ruins at Masada. Masada was where Herod the Great had constructed a series of palaces that overlooked the Dead Sea, but it has been abandoned for years. For nearly four years, the Jews at Masada lived, prayed and I am sure hoped that the Romans would not come for them.  In 73 C.E., the Roman governor of Judea Lucius Flavius Silva brought the Roman legion and thousands of slaves to lay siege to Masada.  Instead of submitting to capture and slavery, 960 Jews decided on mass suicide. The only survivors were two women and five children.

Hoffman writes this story from the perspective of four unique women.  Each of them has suffered unimaginable horrors and yet they still try to create a life for their families that contain some semblance of beauty. I loved experiencing the lives of each of these women, and through Hoffman's graceful prose you feel as though they were real living people.  As a lover of world history and as a woman, I found this book resonated in me on a deep level.  Hoffman has a fluid and poetic writing style, which created a vivid and engrossing tale.  The historical research, use of religious knowledge and poetry elevated this book from mere fiction.  This is a piece of literature. Hoffman uses her words carefully and in so doing catches the reader in a gripping and spellbinding tale.

Krista Boivie