Alice Hoffman brilliantly merges the lives of four brave, passionate and fiercely strong Jewish women in the last months of Masada, a mountain fortress in the Judean desert in 70 C.E. Yael's mother died giving birth to her, and her father, an expert assassin, blamed her for his wife's death. Reka's grandsons witnessed their mother being brutally raped and murdered by Roman soldiers. She protects them like a mother lion. Shirah, known as the Witch of Moab, is well-versed in ancient magic and medicine, and will go to any lengths to protect her loved ones. Aziza, Shirah's daughter, was raised as a boy, to become a fearless warrior, fighting for her people and her beliefs.
All four women traveled across the Judean desert to escape the brutality of the Romans, to the protection and shelter of Masada, the great mountainside palace and fortress built by King Herod in 31 B.C.E. At Masada, they were the dovekeepers, tending to the doves in the three dovecotes there. They also cared for each other and their children. The four women formed a wall of solidarity against unimaginable hardship and strife.
In the Dovekeepers, Alice Hoffman expertly weaves the story of these four women while instilling the history of this important time in Jewish history with rich detail and language, building up events to the incredible climax. I could not put this book down and it continues to haunt me now that I'm finished.