I ended the book with deep admiration for all of the women and a far share of envy for the secrets they shared that provided such powerful and lasting connections. This is also a wonderful book for understanding how warfare is experienced by women, a viewpoint not frequently explored in literature.
Alice Hoffman delivers a remarkable piece of historical fiction, centered around the Biblical story of Masada, where 900 Jews sacrificed themselves in 70 AD, rather than be murdered, captured, or enslaved by the Roman army. It’s a story full of ancient superstitions, human frailties, and the mysteries that inspire faith. Awarded five stars on Goodreads.
Hoffman builds this intense narrative on the individual stories of four strong women, explaining how each came to Masada where they shared the care of the settlement’s doves and about the ties that slowly bind them to one another. And while there IS a strong feminist element throughout (similar to THE RED TENT), this is more of a deep look at the lives women led during the first century of the common era– how they handled the limitations imposed on their gender, the ways in which they still exercised power over the men around them, and the ways in which they quietly and successfully ignored and challenged the restrictive rules of their society.
You might also be interested in my review of another Alice Hoffman book, The Marriage of Opposites.