There is only one ancient source on the story of the Jewish Uprising culminating in the stand at the fortress of Masada. Its veracity has been questioned by recent archaeological evidence. Still the story, whether entirely true or not, is an inspiring one. Novelist Alice Hoffman in The Dovekeepers tells the story from a feminist perspective. Hoffman is a prolific author whose books are both widely loved and frequently damned. Mix feminism with frequent doses of mysticism and controversy may be the result.
The Dovekeepers follows four very different women from the second destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem to the final suicide at the fortress of Masada. There a disparate group of men and women chose death over slavery. Strong stuff indeed. ( A view across the desert of the Dead Sea from the fortress of Masada).
I found the book much too long at points. This is because some the points of the beautifully evocative writing are repeated endlessly, losing their power in the process. Also because this fact oriented former history teacher wants his historical fiction to be believable.... mixing in a lot of dreams, visions and confusing allusions doesn’t work for me. That's a shame, because so much else about this novel is very good, from the characterization to the contrast between the shabby, hungry refugees and the magnificence of Herod's abandoned palace at Masada.
On a personal note, speaking of deserts, we'll be heading off soon to Arizona to visit the grandchildren for the holidays. Wishing all my blogging friends the best. See you in 2012.