The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman is based on the Roman empire attacking Jews on the mountain of Masada over two thousand years ago. According to history, after months of attacks, only two women and five children survived out of 900 or so Jews. Hoffman blends history with fiction to tell the tale of four different women on Masada.
Yael was raised by a father who resented her for the fact that the woman he loved died giving birth to her. Her father, a well renowned assassin, treats her as if she is a burden to the family.
Revka witnessed her daughter being murdered. Now she is the care taker for her grandsons, two young boys who witnessed the murder and have been mute in their grief ever since.
Shirah is the medicine woman on Masada. She has the intuition to heal. Most people avoid being associated with her because they call her a witch, but most people are willing to run to her in the middle of the night for help.
Aziza, daughter of Shirah, is a young woman who was raised as a boy to be a hunter and a warrior. Upon moving to Masada, she lives as a woman. She keeps to herself because unlike other women, she never learned to cook or weave at the looms at night where the women gather to gossip. She would much rather be shooting arrows and fighting to defend herself and her family.
These four women tell their stories as they describe their families, their values, and life on Masada. They stay strong in a society dominated by men. As the war becomes more intense, these women have to fight to survive. They make alliances in unlikely places and do what they can to protect themselves and their families. The Dovekeepers is a great piece of historical fiction that brings the past back to life.