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 a little too long at points. This is because some the points of the beautifully evocative writing are repeated to often, losing their power in the process. Also because mixing in dreams, visions and confusing allusions doesn’t always work for me. Still much else about this novel is very good, from the characterizations to the contrast between the shabby, hungry refugees and the magnificence of Herod's abandoned palace at Masada. All in all though I think this book is well worth reading.....
The New Yorker covers: July 2, 1932
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