The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

What a splendid departure from Hoffman’s usual light, everyday tales of the ordinary, spiced with her special notes of magical realism. This novel is epic, historical and carries the reader into the ancient Middle East where you can smell the lilies, the myrrh, and the blood of men and women dying for their beliefs.

These richly portrayed characters, brought up in the confines of religion and culture, dare to reach farther into the realm of man’s knowledge of God. They break rules, and love. They break rules and kill, they break rules and learn. This book really poked my complacency, made me curious and angry and deeply sad.

While weaving this dark tale, Hoffman brings the sound of bells jingling in a desert landscape, the wings of doves in a sun baked sky and the life-giving miracle of water.

I could not help but wonder if we misconstrue apathy as peace.

I don’t know that I could have guessed this to be her work had I been blind to the author’s name on the cover. I am glad. I would hate to sense formula and sameness in her words that would mar her reputation for me, on the list of my favorite authors. Bravo Ms. Hoffman, a generous read worthy of burning the midnight oil.

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