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Bottom line: Any well-told tale with fiercely independent female protagonists who fight for their own individuality and live lives of no regrets, I can't help but applaud. And if you - like me - enjoy learning about a time in history and a variety of cultures that might be new to you, and if you are ready to be moved by traveling for five hundred pages with characters targeted for brutal genocide, then you will indeed benefit from reading this novel, as I did.
- The history of the Jews at Masada in 70 C.E.: A fascinating cultural journey and a heart-wrenching tragedy I had known next-to-nothing of prior to reading Alice Hoffman's latest novel
- Proud, fierce women - both quite young and quite old for the time period - cast as the heroes in their own classic journeys to save their people and themselves: Priceless.
- Language as literal magical power-bearer: Writer-reader me likey quite a bit, thanks.
- Sure-voiced storytelling with elemental truths as foundations for the tale: well played, Ms. Hoffman.
- Animals as co-equals and life-givers and talismans: me love.
- Our four protagonist-narrators each endure so many tragedies that returning to this novel again and again proved daunting.
- Cultural/historical/religious details often weighed down the novel's pacing, as did sometimes-heavy-handed symbolism and repeated iterations of symbolic motifs that felt a bit forced at times.
- So, so brutal were the Romans and the desert that it was difficult to bear at times.
I do not regret investing many hours in this novel, although often I felt as though I was enduring it as much as reading it. And I cannot but count my manifold blessings when I compare my relatively easy life to the horrible circumstances of the women - and men, for that matter - depicted in The Dovekeepers.
If you do decide to invest your reading time in this novel, I suggest that you wait for a moment when you're feeling strong - or at least balanced - and when the natural world offers you some solace. Then, if you are brave and dogged in the pursuit of truth, pick up The Dovekeepers.
You'll remember it for many moons.