The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio
Review copy provided by the publicist
The Dovekeepers, a work of fiction based in history, follows the Jews that held out for months against the Roman armies on the mountain of Masada nearly two thousand years ago. Hoffman delivers to the reader four very different but equally powerful and inspiring women. Yael carries the burden of her mother’s death, as she died giving birth to Yael and her assassin father has never forgiven her for this crime. Revka, a baker’s wife, lives with her grandsons after watching the Romans kill her daughter and son-in-law. Aziza has been raised to be a warrior, disguises herself as a boy, until the day she meets and falls for a fellow soldier. And Shirah, called a witch by many, has knowledge of ancient magic and medicine, knowledge that serves her well at Masada.
The Dovekeepers is an incredibly difficult book for me to review because I’m having a lot of trouble articulating what I truly thought about the novel and how it made me feel. First, let me get this out of the way – there is no question that this book is expertly researched, incredibly well-written, and beautifully crafted. The research that Hoffman must have done in order to put this thing together had to be a huge undertaking. And the writing in this novel is absolutely gorgeous. Hoffman certainly knows how to put words together, to create passages that one wants to keep rereading and going back to over and over again, and she did that with such expertise in The Dovekeepers.
This book is not, however, an easy read. There are a lot of characters to keep track of (with unfamiliar names), much history to put together, and the events in the novel are complicated and very detailed. I chose to listen to this book and while I thought the audio was brilliantly done, for me personally I’m not sure that was the right choice. When I listen to an audiobook, it is usually short spurts of time so it takes a while to get through one – something that becomes a real problem with an audio of this length (16 discs). I would find myself forgetting characters or key plot points because it took me FOREVER to get through the entire audiobook. And because of the complexity of the story, when I would get off track or forget important details, I would become frustrated and not enjoy the story as much as I could have.
I believe I will reread this book at some point in print. If you can listen to The Dovekeepers for long stretches of time, I think the audio would be a great choice because the four narrators are excellent and the story does lend itself well to audio. For me personally, though, the audio didn’t work for my lifestyle and I will want to read the print to fully appreciate Hoffman’s beautiful writing and this intricate story.
See what I mean about not being able to properly review this one? I’m totally not doing it justice, I know. Yes I would recommend it. Read The Dovekeepers and tell me what you think.