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Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Dovekeepers

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.

10 comments:

Montanagirl said...

I saw a movie about Masada once (on TV). I believe it starred Peter Strauss. Have a wonderful Holiday Season!

Rae said...

I'm not much of an Alice Hoffman fan. This book sounds pretty controversial. I enjoyed seeing that header picture of your family in the desert. That's a good looking group.

Retired English Teacher said...

Have a great time with your family in the desert. I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

NCmountainwoman said...

I've always been fascinated by the Masada ordeal. Hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas. Oh, to have grandchildren this time of year. You and Mrs. T are blessed indeed.

EcoRover said...

Hate repetitive stories unless it serves a mnemonic function as in Homer etc. Masada is an amazing story, though, and it touches us in deeply mythic ways so at some level it doesn't matter if it's "literally" true or not.

Ien van Houten said...

Thanks for the tip, will have to find that. I am not crazy about 'zealots' of any variety....I have not read a lot of this author, but loved "Second Nature".

Bud said...

1. Hope you will enjoy your family this Christmas, even to excess. We have a 3 yr. old grandson and I plan to spoil him with attention, hugs, and probably more than enough gifts.

2. Thanks for the tip on this Hoffman book. I'll be reading it. On your recommendation, I and my wife both read The Girl in the Blue Beret and enjoyed it a great deal.

MYstory of HIStory said...

Oooooh the desert sounds pretty good right about now! :) Just wanted to pop in and wish you a Happy New Year!

Micaella Lopez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Micaella Lopez said...

The story was very well written, interesting and informative. It made me want to find out more information about Masada and that period in history. The story more than met my expectations.

Mica
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