The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman is locked in a tie for my favorite book of 2012 (next post will be on its competitor). I was fascinated initially by the concept of the story line - four women, at the Masada, in ancient Israel. I was also a little nervous, as I knew how the Roman siege of the Masada ended (pretty much the way all things Roman ended back then!), and I didn't feel like getting besieged with sadness would be a great way to begin the Christmas season. However, as I got to know these four women, I was able to move beyond the plot line, and look instead inside their souls. Hoffman is a master at combining a touch of surrealism and ancient magic, with true historical fact, as well as themes of betrayal, passion, freedom, and devotion.
Each of the four women are distinct and singular. The daughter of the assassin, the witch woman of Moab, the baker's wife, and the warrior - each has a beautiful story to tell, and each story could stand on its own. The power of Hoffman's book is that she forces these women together; you become engrossed not only in their lives, but in watching how their four lives intertwine.