The Dovekeepers is the latest offering by Alice Hoffman, and it is truly the worth the five years it was in the making. Set in 70 C.E., it is the story of a Jewish community seeking refuge in the mountains in the Judean desert, on the run from the Roman army. It is told from the perspective of four women. Yael is the daughter and sister of assassins, who bears a child out of wedlock. Revka is a grandmother with two grandsons who have been rendered mute after witnessing the horrific rape, torture and murder of their mother by Roman soldiers. Then their is Aziza, a self-taught weapon maker and marksman. And finally there is Shirah, know within the community as a witch as she mixes curative potions and delivers illegitimate babies. Their four stories of their lives and struggles as the Romans tighten the circle around them are interwoven. They initially come together in the dovecote, where they are assigned to work. There, they make and build connections, becoming almost a family. All of these women have been hurt and are on different levels fragile – but there are some happy endings in this tragic story. The language of this book is absolutely beautiful:
“We came like doves across the desert. In a time when there was nothing but death, we were grateful for anything, and most grateful of all when we awoke to another day.”
“If we lost our faith, we would become like the clouds that swell across the Western sky when the wind pushes them into the desert promising rain but empty inside.”
“Being human means losing everything that we love best in the world. But would you ask to be anything else?”
I am not sure that any reviewer can so justice to this beautiful book – certainly not me. It is an ambitious book, in no way a lightweight. I LOVED THIS BOOK!
Simon & Schuster provided a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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