The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

I originally picked up this novel because of its historical references to the content that I teach my 8th graders in World History I, and I was not disappointed by it. The Dovekeepers takes place in 70 C.E. after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple. It tells the story of 900 Jews living in a stronghold of Masada, and their 4 year struggle to hold off the Romans. The story has some basis in history - the historian Josephus wrote an account of the Roman siege of Masada, in which he reported that two women and five children survived the massacre on the night when the Jews committed mass suicide rather than surrender to the Roman Legion.

The Dovekeepers weaves together the story of four women and the journeys that brought them to the stronghold in Masada. Yael - the Assassin's Daughter -  is a fiery redhead whose mother died giving birth to her. Her father, a famed assassin, never forgave her for that death. Revka - the Baker's Wife - comes to Masada with her two grandsons and son-in-law after witnessing the brutal murder of her daughter. Aziza - the Warrior - is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and expert marksman, who finds passion with another soldier. Shirah - the Witch of Moab -  is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine.

Alice Hoffman does a wonderful job telling the individual stories of each of these women and then weaving them together. I enjoyed the fact that I recognized many of the places referenced in the story. However, even if you don't know anything about the historical events surrounding the story, you will still enjoy the book. The characters are strong women and there stories intersected in interesting ways. I enjoyed Alice Hoffman's writing style and will probably check out some of her other books.


  1. It is quite strange that I had not heard anything about this author until my husband picked up the book At Risk and now I read about this book. This seems like it would be a good book to read. I will put it on my TBR list.

    1. I was given to me by my mom, who came across her through Oprah's book club. This was the first book of hers that I had read and I did enjoy it. Thanks again for checking out my blog.