Hoffman departs from offbeat fantasy to retell the story of the Romans' siege of Masada in 70 CE, during which all but a handful of the 900 Jewish defenders were slaughtered. The story unfolds through the voices of four women: Yael, daughter of an assassin; Revka, determined to protect her grandsons; the warrior Aziza; and her mother, a woman of mysterious powers. Hoffman spent five years researching the book, and the publisher is pushing it as her Beloved.
Over five years in the writing, The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman's most ambitious and mesmerizing novel, a tour de force of imagination and research, set in ancient Israel. In 70 C.E., nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman's novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path. Yael's mother died in childbirth, and her father, an expert assassin, never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker's wife, watched the horrifically brutal murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her young grandsons, rendered mute by what they have witnessed. Aziza is a warrior's daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and an expert marksman who finds passion with a fellow soldier. Shirah, born in Alexandria, is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power. The lives of these four complex and fiercely independent women intersect in the desperate days of the siege. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets--about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love. The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman's masterpiece.