Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Dovekeepers

                                                                     By Alice Hoffman

Romans defeated of the Jews at Masada in the year 70C.E., and this is the
story of some of the women who were there. Women who had come together to be
the Dove keepers. To care for the animals who were kept to provide eggs and fertilizer
for the crops raised within the walls, and to be spread around the trees. The doves
gave sustenance to all who lived there in one way or another.

Those who kept the Dover were Shirah and her daughters Aziza and Nahara. Shirah
had been born in Alexandria and was educated not only in reading and the knowledge
of languages, but of magic as had been her own mother. Her story, and that of the
birth of her daughters alone, is worth the price of this book.

There is Revka, a woman left to raise her two young grandsons, after the world
as they knew it was taken from them. To say that things were never to be the same
for them is an understatement of vast proportion. Again, their story alone deserves a book.

Yael was born of a woman who no longer had breath in her body and that moment of her birth
was to affect each choice she made and all the days of her life.

These women worked together to care for the doves who were the basis of life
or those who lived on the mountain. Who can say how it was that these women
were brought together, and how it was that they were perhaps the strongest of
all. They carried within them their own secrets, and in the end, it fell to some of them
to carry and then share the story of what happened when the Romans came finally to Masada
and scaled the mountain. Stronger than the warriors, the leaders and in the end, the conquerors.

The stories that were left behind that historic event are the basis of this
glorious novel. They say that there were seven who lived. Seven who survived
months of siege and then attack by the Romans of their people. The Jews who had already
torn from their homelands, and found refuge together on this great mountain. Seven
who refused to die either at the hands of the Romans or of their own people, and
who found a way to live.