By Alice Hoffman
Genre: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism
How I discovered this book: Goodreads. (I luv Goodreads.)
Rate: (Scale from 1-10):
Quality of writing: 9
From Amazon: “In 70 C.E., nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman’s novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily 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, an expert assassin, 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 young grandsons, rendered mute by what they have witnessed. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and an expert marksman who finds passion with a fellow soldier. Shirah, born in Alexandria, is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power.”
Its a compelling story of how these women survive or don’t survive. Set in a period of history that I don’t know much about, which makes it’s more compelling.
Reasons I enjoyed or disliked:
I liked this one. It did take me a bit to settle into the writing style but I think that was just because I had been working a lot and my brain was tuned to alter dance clothes. Once I settled in, I really enjoyed the magical feel that she was able to give the women and thier stories.
I thought the way the stories wove together was compelling. I also like the way the main story continued with each new woman that we met, while still giving us the woman’s background. I think that telling the story of this event through the eyes of the women was a smart take on it. As it gives you women who are warriors, pacifists, and women just trying to survive. Which, I think, is relatable to any time period.
My benchmark for good historical fiction is if it makes me go research the events that are happening in the novel. (Even if it’s just a Wikipedia read). This one did that and more. I’m actually looking for a book on daily life in biblical times, just to get a better handle on gender roles, societal norms, and regular life.
So, this one is a great book.
Yay or Nay?