by Alice Hoffman
Scribner (Simon and Schuster)
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Buy From Indigo
Description: In 70 CE, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on a mountain in the Judean desert, Masada. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic historical event, Hoffman weaves a spellbinding tale of four extraordinary, bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path.
Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the horrifically brutal murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her twin grandsons, rendered mute by their own witness. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and expert marksman, who finds passion with another soldier. Shirah is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power.
The lives of these four complex and fiercely independent women intersect in the desperate days of the siege, as the Romans draw near. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets—about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love
The Good Stuff
- I wish I had the words to express how wonderful this book is. I will be honest if Simon and Schuster hadn't sent it to me for review, I probably wouldn't have picked it up and let me tell you that would have been a shame. This book is haunting and sad but yet so full of hope and of the resilience of the human spirit
- Beautiful raw and honest story and just so god-damned emotional to read
- Exceptionally real and strong female characters
- History written so it comes alive and you learn so much without feeling like you are getting a history lesson
- The faults/flaws of the characters are not hidden and you see how they change and grow over the course of the story
- Emotionally raw by the end of the story and had to go hug my children before I could go to bed
- Obviously thoroughly researched and you feel the authors passion for the subject matter as it never comes across as dull
- I would be shocked if this doesn't get made into a movie or a mini series
- Further Reading at the end of the book is appreciated for those like me who will want to find out more of the history
- Very wise and thought provoking
- A wonderful book for various discussions about faith, forgiveness, compassion, woman's rights etc
- Why are you still reading my review -- get thee to a book store now and buy it -- hello what are you waiting for
The Not so Good Stuff
- Could have been perfect with a some stronger editing. There is some obvious repetition that should have been caught and it would have made it a truly brilliant novel.
- I was forced to stay up till a 1am to finish this and the last 15 pages or so I could barely read with the tears falling down. Alice you owe me some coffee and Kleenex & an apology to my kids for mommy being cranky from lack of sleep
"Try as she might to keep him a child, Shirah's son was already straining to be a man. She called out cautions, but Adir hurried to the garrison, determined to be among the men he admired. When the wind is so strong that we women know we will choke on the rising dust if we fail to tie our scarves across our faces, boys will always ignore the elements and race through storm clouds, dreaming of glory. Even a witch can't stop her son from becoming a warrior. There is no spell great enough for that."
"It was sometimes easier to be with a stranger from whom nothing was expected and to whom nothing was granted in return."
"They embraced the feminine aspect of God, the Dwelling. the deep place where inspiration abided, for in the written words of God, compassion and knowledge were always female."
"The desire for Jerusalem was a fire that could not be quenched. There was a spark inside the holiest of holy places that made people want to possess it, and what men yearn for they often destroy."
What I Learned
- Man it really sucked to be a women in ancient times, we are so lucky in this day and age to be treated, for the most part, as the equals that we are (still so far to go)
- Now I really already know this, but lets just put this out again -- the persecution of Jews over and over again just completely baffles me. They truly are one of the most formidable, strong and resilient race the world has ever seen.
- Tons of fascinating information about 70-75 CE
- Will be buying a copy for my niece, sister and sister in laws for Christmas because I don't want to lend them MY copy and risk the chance of one of them --- "misplacing it" LOL
- Those who enjoy a nice light read, would probably not want to pick one up. It is quite intense and detailed
- Thinking those of Roman descent might be a little put off
- A must have for public libraries
I received this from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review -- thank you for once again breaking me out of my comfort zone and introducing me to something so spectacular
Alice Hoffman in Conversation with Heather Reisman
Where: Indigo Bay/Bloor (55 Bloor St West, Toronto)
Date: October 26, 2011
Time: 7:00 PM