The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

74%

29 Critic Reviews

An enthralling tale rendered with consummate literary skill.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman’s most ambitious and mesmerizing novel: “striking….Hoffman grounds her expansive, intricately woven, and deepest new novel in biblical history, with a devotion and seriousness of purpose” (Entertainment Weekly).

Nearly two thousand years ago, 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. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father, an expert assassin, never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her young grandsons, rendered mute by what they have witnessed. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and expert marksman who finds passion with a fellow soldier. Shirah, born in Alexandria, 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. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets—about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love.
 

About Alice Hoffman

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Alice Hoffman is the author of fifteen novels: Blue Diary (2001), The River King (2000), Local Girls (1999), Here On Earth (1997), Practical Magic (1995), Second Nature (1994), Turtle Moon (1992), Seventh Heaven (1990), At Risk (1988), Illumination Night (1987), Fortune's Daughter (1985), White Horses (1982), Angel Landing (1980), The Drowning Season (1979), and Property Of (1977). She is also the author of three children's books: Aquamarine (2001), Horsefly (2000), and Fireflies (1997). Born in New York City, and raised on Long Island, Hoffman graduated from Adelphi University and received an M.A. from Stanford University, where she was Mirrielees Fellow. She currently lives near Boston with her family and her dogs.
 
Published October 4, 2011 by Scribner. 593 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs, Religion & Spirituality. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Nov 06 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Dovekeepers
All: 29 | Positive: 19 | Negative: 10

Kirkus

Excellent
on Apr 05 2011

An enthralling tale rendered with consummate literary skill.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Sarah Fay on Oct 21 2011

I have no doubt that “The Dovekeepers” was conceived as a worthy project, but good research and good intentions don’t necessarily yield good novels.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Clare Clark on Nov 04 2011

The novel is much too long and, for most of its 500 pages, its four protagonists suffer relentlessly... The archaic prose style doesn't help.

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Publishers Weekly

Below average
on Jun 13 2011

Massive descriptive paragraphs slow the action, until, by the end, the reader is simply worn out.

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Financial Times

Below average
Reviewed by Michael Prodger on Oct 21 2011

For some readers the magic will work but less susceptible souls may see instead only smoke and mirrors.

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Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by Roberta O’Hara on Oct 06 2011

Literature has rarely seen such a powerful tale of four unique women vested in love, shrouded in secrets, and urged on by boundless faith.

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Globe and Mail

Above average
Reviewed by NANCY RICHLER on Nov 28 2011

The Dovekeepers is a long book, longer than it should be, with far too many details, images and unnecessary plot twists that bog down the story in places where it otherwise would soar.

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Entertainment Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Lisa Schwarzbaum on Sep 28 2011

Hoffman put years of research into The Dovekeepers...that pacing becomes its own powerful incantation.

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The Washington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Ron Charles on Feb 27 2013

...over the course of hundreds of pages, such tonal monotony loses its power and sounds wooden. Around Page 410, when the Roman soldiers appeared on the horizon, some evil little part of me sighed, “Finally. . . .”

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Christian Science Monitor

Above average
Reviewed by Yvonne Zipp on Nov 24 2011

Hoffman occasionally tries to cram in too much research, which causes dead spots in the writing...there is dialogue that feels anachronistic...

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Booklist Online

Excellent
Reviewed by Joanne Wilkinson on Feb 27 2013

This is both a feminist manifesto and a deeply felt tribute to courageous men and women of faith, told with the cadence and imagery of a biblical passage.

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The Bookbag

Excellent
Reviewed by Mary Esther Judy on Oct 01 2011

A masterpiece of storytelling, lyrically written, both illuminating and harrowing, this is the most remarkable book I have read in a long time.

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USA Today

Good
Reviewed by Patty Rhule on Oct 08 2011

Hoffman's fiction is always compelling, but the history within The Dovekeepers makes this novel haunting.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Good
Reviewed by Rhoda Trooboff on Feb 27 2013

... historical fiction at its best and a stunning conversation starter on the fraught topics of war, sex, and religion.

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Pajiba

Excellent
Reviewed by Lsuemcd on Feb 27 2013

It is a story worth reading; the kind of novel you will find yourself telling people about, and the kind of novel you may just read again to dig deeper and see if you can catch Hoffman’s rich details and foreshadowing the second time around.

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Open Letters Monthly

Below average
Reviewed by Steve Donoghue on Feb 27 2013

Underneath the formal experimentation, however, there’s the expected murky fantasia and non-threatening empowerment fog. Such thing...feel more than ever like impediments here. I’m hoping her future roads lead firmly away from Rome.

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The Seattle Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Melissa Allison on Oct 09 2011

"The Dovekeepers" is a stunningly crafted work about a tragic and heroic time. It also showcases Hoffman's immense gift for telling stories about women, magic and complex relationships.

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Oregon Live

Above average
Reviewed by Margaret Donsbach on Nov 12 2011

The writing can be breathtakingly lovely, though too often muffled by repetition. Paragraphs in which a thought is beautifully expressed, expressed again...and finally restated a third time dull the power of the writing and tempt readers to skim.

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Historical Novel Society

Excellent
Reviewed by Laurel Corona on Feb 01 2012

A new book by Alice Hoffman is always cause to sit up and take note, and The Dovekeepers does not disappoint.

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Lincoln Journal Star

Good
Reviewed by Amanda St. Amand on Oct 21 2011

...it's clear that not all four of these remarkable women will live. But each of them will live on in the minds of readers.

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NJ.com

Above average
Reviewed by Sherryl Connelly on Oct 02 2011

Hoffman’s stories may well be melodramatic, but then so is the story of Masada.

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Journal Sentinel

Below average
Reviewed by Mike Fischer on Sep 29 2011

Stripped of its overworked plot and overwrought prose, "The Dovekeepers" could have been a much better book.

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Scotsman.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Jacqueline Thompson on Nov 26 2011

Hoffman’s story is as beautiful as it is harrowing. Amidst all the horrors contained within the story, the human spirit and capacity to love endures throughout.

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Las Vegas Review Journal

Excellent
Reviewed by Sharon Galligar Chance on Feb 06 2012

Hoffman has a unique way of capturing women’s emotions in her storytelling, and her writing is absorbing and mesmerizing.

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The New Zealand Herald

Excellent
Reviewed by Carroll du Chateau on Feb 17 2012

Hoffman's treatment of this story, and the imagination and research that bring it together, is breathtaking.

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The American Book Center Blog

Good
Reviewed by Nachiketa Rai on Oct 27 2011

Hoffman has extensively detailed characters and plots and one almost feels going through the same emotions as the characters.

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For Books' Sake

Good
Reviewed by Alex Rowse on Jan 23 2012

Their courage and passion in the face of their troubles is a deeply moving portrayal of the strength of female spirit, and may leave you feeling a little emotionally battered when you turn the final pages.

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Yummy Mummy Club

Good
Reviewed by Wanda Lynne Young on Oct 04 2011

...the real draw comes from her ability to get into the heads of the four women...It's actually amazing how modern women can resemble these women from this ancient time.

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History and Women.

Excellent
on Oct 24 2011

A profound statement on the power and resilience and honour! Highly recommended.

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Reader Rating for The Dovekeepers
79%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 2549 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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