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The Dovekeepers [Paperback]

Alice Hoffman
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Paperback, 30 Aug 2012 5.59  
Audio, CD, Audiobook 10.66  

Book Description

30 Aug 2012
The lives of four sensuous, bold and remarkable women intersect in the year 70 AD, in the desperate days of the siege of Masada, when supplies are dwindling and the Romans are drawing near. All are dovekeepers, and all are keepers of secrets - about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love. There is Yael, the assassin's daughter whose heartbreak leads to her true path in the ruins of the desert; Revka, the baker's wife who loses her dearest treasure on earth and yet finds the strength to protect her family; Aziza, the warrior's beloved who leads a secret life not even those closest to her could imagine; and Marit, beautiful witch of Moab, a woman as loyal as she is dangerous.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (30 Aug 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0857205447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857205445
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 31,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"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

"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

'a real tour de force' --Independent

'Hoffman knows how to tell a good story. She brings this ancient world alive ... It will bring huge pleasure to many readers' --Sunday Times

'Brilliantly realised and passionately told' --Woman and Home

'Hoffman makes ancient history live and breathe in this compelling story' --Booklist

`Filled as it is with factual information and real artefacts, the book is laced with the unreal, with magic superstitions and ancient witchcraft. Using these mystical ingredients, Hoffman concocts a rich, female world in which the women tell the story.' --The Scotsman --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Alice Hoffman wrote her first novel, Property Of, when she was 21. She has published a total of 28 works of fiction, including Practical Magic which was a major film starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. Alice Hoffman now lives in Boston. Visit her website:

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masada Masterpiece 17 Oct 2011
This is a rather amazing novel based on the true story of the siege of the fortress Masada which took place in the year 70 AD. The title of the book: 'The Dovekeepers' refers to the women in the fortress who took care of the doves and this novel tells the story of the lives and loves of these unusual women who found themselves at Masada at the time of the siege.

Firstly we meet Yael, whose mother died whilst giving birth to her, and whose father, an expert assassin, cannot forgive her for her mother's death. Later we meet Revka, suffering greatly from the loss of her daughter in horrifying circumstances, who has to find the strength to care for her traumatised grandsons. Then there is Aziza, a beautiful young woman, who has been raised as a boy and fights as a warrior, but who falls in love with a fellow soldier. And we meet Shirah, mother of Aziza, lover of the great warrior, Ben Ya'ir, a woman with special powers who, try as she might, cannot save her children from their ultimate fates.

The book is divided into sections for each main character, but as all of these women are dovekeepers at Masada, the author skilfully weaves each person in and out of the others' stories, so we never leave one character behind at the expense of finding out about another. All of the women in this story, at some time, have met with adversity; they have loved, lost, suffered and survived. They are strong, courageous women who find they will need all of their strength and courage when faced with the tragic events which unfold during of the siege of Masada.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another World 11 Nov 2011
Alice Hoffman is one of my favourite authors and I love her juxtaposition of the mundane and magic in contemporary settings. The Dovekeepers is far removed from our humdrum, daily lives as it is set in ancient Israel but the magic remains in this extensively researched historical novel.

Following the fall of Jerusalem in AD70 and the destruction of the temple, many Jews fled the Romans and crossed the Judean desert, establishing a Zealot settlement at the remote natural fortress, Masada. Overlooking the Dead Sea, this rugged outpost was considered virtually impregnable but the Roman Empire was determined to conquer Masada, once the site of King Herod's palaces. In AD73, Flavius Silva, the Roman Governor, succeeded in breaching the fortress but not before the Jewish inhabitants (numbering almost 1,000) organised a mass suicide, preferring a glorious death to a life of infamy. According to the ancient historian, Josephus, only two women and five children survived.

In The Dovekeepers, Hoffman tells the story from the Jewish women's point of view, using four different female narrators, Yael, Revka, Aziza and Shirah all of whom work in the dovecotes. They are exceptionally strong women who have suffered so much yet make their mark in what is most definitely a man's world. Yael, whose own mother died giving birth to her, is shunned by her father but, following the fall of Jerusalem, they eventually reach Masada. Revka, traumatised by the brutal death of her daughter at the hands of Roman soldiers, comes to Masada with her young grandsons, rendered mute by what they witnessed. Aziza, raised as a boy, longs to show her warrior skills but has to do so by subterfuge. Shirah, Aziza's mother, has to conceal her magical skills for fear of being an outcast again.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old history brought to life brilliantly ... 6 Feb 2012
In 70 C.E., nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. History records that only two women and five children survived the siege ...

An extraordinary story.

And the foundation upon which Alice Hoffman has built an epic novel. An extraordinary novel.

She tells the stories of four women. Four very different women, who had very different lives, who came to Masada by very different paths.

Yael, Revka, Aziza and Shira.

They say so much about the relationships women have, the roles they play, what they give to the world ...

Mothers. Daughters. Grandmothers. Wives. Lovers ....

Nurturers. Protectors. Negotiators. Healers. Warriors ....

Their stories set out their histories, their journeys, and their lives as they become dovekeepers at Masada. I was reluctant to let go when one story ended, but each time I found a new story that absorbed me, and then I found the women I had met before, living and working alongside the woman I had just met. Everything came together beautifully.

Because everything is right.

The prose is both beautiful and readable. And, more than that, I could hear each woman's voice, and I came to know them, to understand them.

Four women. Complex,and utterly real.

And I came to know their world, seeing so many details richly painted. It was easy to turn the pages quickly but I knew that I needed to linger, to make sure that I took everything in. I was transported.

Years may pass, the world may change, but in essence the hopes, the fears, the dreams of women never change.

As the end approach the story could have lost its grip. I knew the history, I knew how it must play out.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
Published 1 day ago by Peter White
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent book as expected of any book written by Alice ...
excellent book as expected of any book written by Alice Hoffman. Made me want to go and visit Masada. I love the characters who look after the Dove Cotes. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Mrs Naomi G Capps
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written and very descriptive with lots of interesting Jewish ...
Well written and very descriptive with lots of interesting Jewish history....but it's so depressing and violent. Not the kind of book I usually read.
Published 1 month ago by Marie Flora
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
This book was recommend to me by my sister-in-law and I'm so glad I took up her recommendation as I hadn't heard of it before and probably would never have come across it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mcbab
4.0 out of 5 stars A friend told me about this book, and I ...
A friend told me about this book, and I was intrigued by the synopsis. It is an enjoyable read although I haven't finished it completely hence only 4 stars at the moment.. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. R. H. Hyde
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
If you make it to the end you've got a higher boredom threshhold than me!
Published 2 months ago by susan m hardman
4.0 out of 5 stars A self indulgent, boring book
I was looking forward to reading this book as it had some great reviews, but was disappointed. A weak story line with too much padding.
Published 2 months ago by twinkle
4.0 out of 5 stars The Dovekeepers
In the year 70 CE as the First Jewish-Roman wars continued, Jerusalem was besieged by the Roman Army, led by the future Emperor Titus, with the commander Tiberius Julius Alexander. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Keen Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars A book you can't put down but never wish to finish.
What a wonderful approach to the retelling of the story of Masada. Alice Hoffman gives an innovative account of the story told through the eyes of the women. Read more
Published 3 months ago by A. Stanley
5.0 out of 5 stars fab
Am so pleased with my purchase, exactly as described, Superfast delivery.Great service, I will return to this seller and highly recommend to everyone
Published 3 months ago by CAx
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