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Review: The Dovekeepers

March 15, 2012

Four very different women find their way to Masada in very different ways.  As they arrive at the settlement, they each become dovekeepers so their lives intersect.  Even though they rely on each other, they never really open up to each other.

I really don’t feel qualified to say much about Alice Hoffman’s historical novel, The Dovekeepers.  The book is ambitious and long, and I feel it would be more effective if it was shorter.  It assumes readers have some knowledge of Masada and I was somewhat lost until I stopped and did a little research.

I found the writing to be inaccessible, but that’s probably just me – I don’t think I’m smart enough for a book like this.  As I started the book, I was reading passages several times trying to discern their meanings.  After a while, I decided to just go with the story, and I’m sure parts of the story went over my head.  The story is told from the points of view of the four women and their voices all felt the same to me.  As long as the book was, I felt like I didn’t know any of the characters all that well.

I’m not sorry I read The Dovekeepers, but it won’t be on my list of favorites.  I don’t read much historical fiction, so I really don’t feel that I’m a fair judge of a book like this.  If you enjoy historical fiction, you might want to give it a try.

Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

38 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2012 7:12 am

    I actually donated my review copy unread, as it just did not seem like one I would enjoy. Sorry it wasn’t memorable for you.

  2. holdenj permalink
    March 15, 2012 8:01 am

    Just picked this up at the library, and was already wondering if I’ll have time for it before it has to go back (unrenewable, new release! :))
    I think any book marketed as fiction should be somewhat accessible to us, even if historical isn’t your favorite genre.

  3. March 15, 2012 8:31 am

    Never say you’re not smart enough for a book like this – I don’t believe it for a minute!

    I saw this when the review copies were coming out and it just didn’t seem like something I wanted to tackle. I’ve heard good reviews, so maybe I will tackle it on audio at some point – it might fill up a nice, long road trip.

  4. March 15, 2012 8:53 am

    I’ve had this book for awhile, and I keep putting it off. I think the size of the book is what’s turning me off. I’ve heard great things about it, and eventually I do want to try it.

  5. March 15, 2012 9:10 am

    I felt the same way, I’m just not smart enough, and then I thought It’s the authors job to enlighten me, and I quit reading it. Too bad, the cover and the advance copy reviews are what sold me.

  6. March 15, 2012 10:06 am

    I must say I’m not interested in this one!

  7. March 15, 2012 11:40 am

    I received a review copy of this one as well and I haven’t read it yet. I used to devour anything Alice Hoffman wrote but I’ve been a little disappointed with her last couple of books. I’ll keep this on my shelf but I don’t know if I’m smart enough for it.

  8. March 15, 2012 12:21 pm

    Historical books that expect readers to have a prior knowledge of the period are difficult for me, since I rarely do.

  9. March 15, 2012 12:32 pm

    The premise of this story is of interest to me. Great review, Kathy.

  10. March 15, 2012 12:41 pm

    Eep! So glad I didn’t read this one now.

  11. March 15, 2012 12:54 pm

    Thanks! for your review of this book, don’t think it’s for me either.

  12. March 15, 2012 1:00 pm

    I picked this one up at the library and figured it would be a hard read in that I’d have to really pay attention or know more about the subject matter. I put it back. Sounds like I made the right decision.

  13. March 15, 2012 1:11 pm

    You are plenty smart enough. You just didn’t like it. And that’s okay. Don’t make excuses or apologies.

  14. March 15, 2012 1:15 pm

    I am unsure, I just do not know, but I would still like to try it

  15. March 15, 2012 1:25 pm

    I tried listening to the audio but I don’t think it’s for me either. I do like the occasional historical fiction but I just couldn’t get into this one. Glad to know I’m not the only one. Thanks for your review.

  16. myfriendamy permalink
    March 15, 2012 1:45 pm

    I didn’t like this at all either, Kathy, I gave up after 50 pages because I felt like it was a lot of telling no showing. I wasn’t able to connect to the character at all, since she was TELL TELL TELL and I didn’t have the patience to get to the other three.

  17. March 15, 2012 2:22 pm

    Ambitious and long is what I keep hearing about this one. I don’t mind long or ambitious but the premise doesn’t really interest me.

  18. March 15, 2012 2:55 pm

    I’ve always meant to read something by Alice Hoffman, but I probably won’t start with this one.

  19. March 15, 2012 3:12 pm

    If the characters don’t connect with the reader, the book is a failure. That’s my opinion. It’s all my opinion that you are a very smart woman. Don’t let a bad book bring you down.

  20. March 15, 2012 4:32 pm

    I tried to read this book a while back and it just bored me. Oh well!

  21. March 15, 2012 4:52 pm

    I was surprised to read your review and many of the comments about The Dovekeepers. I had heard wonderful things about it and was planning to read it. I do enjoy historical fiction, however I may just skip this one!.

  22. March 15, 2012 7:28 pm

    I haven’t read this author before, but this doesn’t sound like the one to start my journey off with.

  23. Amritorupa Kanjilal permalink
    March 15, 2012 11:36 pm

    If a book leaves you cold and unconnected, there is something wrong with the writing. Thank you for the review, this is one book I won’t try.

    First time on your blog, and I really liked your reviews. They are crisp, precise, and tell me all I want to know from a review. Following you now!
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  24. March 16, 2012 9:52 am

    Oh well..not all books sing to us!!!

  25. March 16, 2012 3:32 pm

    I have this book and have been curious about it, but your review coupled with Sandy’s has me wondering if this indeed for me or not. I usually love really layered historical fiction, but I am not sure what I would feel about this one. I think I am going to have to at least give it 50 pages and see if it works for me. Thanks for the incredibly honest and reflective review.

  26. March 16, 2012 5:22 pm

    this sounds like too difficult of a book to read. i just need the author to spell it out for me not make me try and think through it while i’m reading. i get stressed out enough from trying to understand my professor’s lectures that i don’t need books to make my life more confusing.

  27. talesofwhimsy permalink
    March 16, 2012 6:12 pm

    Not smart enough? Wow. That statement says allot. Thanks for your honest review. I use to love Alice Hoffman’s book and have this one on my TBR list.

  28. March 16, 2012 9:09 pm

    This sure doesn’t sound like the Alice Hoffman books I’ve read in the past! And you are too smart enough!

  29. March 17, 2012 11:49 pm

    I usually like Alice Hoffman but this one does not appeal to me all.

  30. March 18, 2012 3:05 pm

    I think I’ll pass on this one. I’ve read one Hoffman book and wasn’t too impressed.

  31. March 18, 2012 10:43 pm

    Oh goodness… I don’t think anyone should have to research before reading a fiction book, lol. Isn’t that what historical fiction is for? To teach? I have read Alice Hoffman in the past, but it sounds like she’s writing some more difficult stuff. It doesn’t seem right when so many prolific readers (other blogger reviews too) have had difficulty reading her book. =(

  32. March 18, 2012 10:53 pm

    It was suggested at my book club! I will definitely not read it now. Something about it doesn’t grab me.

  33. March 19, 2012 12:34 pm

    Now I’m wondering if I’ll like this one. I do like historical fiction but I don’t know much about Masada. I was hoping perhaps to learn something from the story and not to have to arrive with prior knowledge.

  34. stacijoreads permalink
    March 19, 2012 9:47 pm

    I’ve actually heard this quite a bit about this book…don’t feel alone or dumb…I think you’re probably very correct on the writing and the inaccessibility of it all.

  35. litandlife permalink
    March 22, 2012 10:07 pm

    You are a very well-read person; I can’t imagine that you were not smart enough for this one. No matter what you knew coming in about Masada, it sounds like the writing fell flat. The four voices should, at the very least, have each given you a different feel and even that wasn’t working.

  36. March 23, 2012 8:23 am

    I still haven’t read a Hoffman book, and now I know I won’t start with this one!

  37. escapingjourney permalink
    April 3, 2012 3:17 pm

    Sorry this one wasn’t for you. I’m drawn to this one because of the cover..just love it. But it’ll be awhile before I even get a copy and then attempt it.

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