In 70 CE, a group of nine hundred Jews fled their homelands from the invading Romans and converged together to escape the slaughter of their people. They held out for months against armies of Romans on a mountain in the Judean desert, Masada. According to the ancient historian Josephus, only two women and five children survived.
"The Dovekeepers" is based on this tragic event and tells of four strong and resourceful women, who each come to Masada by a different path. Yael's mother died in childbirth, and her father 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 twin grandsons, rendered mute by their own witness. Aziza is a warrior's daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and expert marksman, who finds passion with another soldier. Shirah is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine; a woman with uncanny insight and power. The four lives intersect in the desperate days of the siege, as the Romans draw near. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets -- about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love.
This is Alice Hoffman's first work of historical fiction, and she weaves a tale of friendship, love, loyalty and sorrow that is based on meticulous research of this period in time. You will be able to imagine life two thousand years ago and will feel as if you know each of the characters.
Recommended by Hinda Smith