I was catching up on long overdue reading of BLACKBIRD HOUSE by Alice Hoffman when I was asked to read her latest novel, THE DOVEKEEPERS. I admit I was deep in the former, spellbound by the bewitching tale of a house, the people who populate it and its history, and I didn't want to put it down. But I had the opportunity to read another by Hoffman, after all, so BLACKBIRD HOUSE could wait…a bit.
"A novel lush in detail, evocative in memory, and authentic in its research and retelling"
THE DOVEKEEPERS is the story of four remarkable women who come to Masada, the Judean desert where 900 Jews held out for many months against Roman armies in 70 CE.
The formidable ladies are:
Literature has rarely seen such a powerful tale of four unique women vested in love, shrouded in secrets, and urged on by boundless faith. "Nothing in the world is lasting; only our faith lives on," says Revka. This is a story about what it means to withstand the challenges that question our convictions and what it means to come out on the other end still standing, even if metaphorically.
Some might say that all that Alice Hoffman wrote prior to THE DOVEKEEPERS was just a build-up to a masterful crescendo, and that THIS is her greatest masterpiece. It IS a masterpiece, but it is also of a piece, of a type: a novel lush in detail, evocative in memory, and authentic in its research and retelling. Like her earlier works, she spares little in painting pictures of the beauty of feminism and feminine strength, in all its manifestations and human connections. Hoffman's body of work is full of just such stories --- lives intertwined and personal at the same time. Beautifully written, the ending of THE DOVEKEEPERS sent me right back to BLACKBIRD HOUSE for more of the same.
Reviewed by Roberta O’Hara on October 6, 2011