Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman

I came across The Dovekeepers the same way I come across a lot of books and that was over the processing table at work. The cover intrigued me. And while I know full well what the old saying says about books and their covers, this cover did not lie; it promised an interesting read, and the book followed through.

The second thing that intrigued me to read this book was a quote from Toni Morrison, “Beautiful, harrowing, a major contribution to 21st-century literature.”After reading that, I thought, “Okay, now I have to read this book.” And I’m so glad I did!

The book begins in 70 C.E. in Jerusalem and is based on true events. At this point in our story, the Romans are raiding the holy city, and droves of Jewish people are fleeing to the desert with their families, in search of Masada; a fortress built by Herod the Great around 37 B.C.E. as a refuge for himself. But in The Dovekeepers, this great fortress becomes a refuge for numerous Jewish families and a group of Jewish extremists called the Sicarii.

The story is narrated by four women who are all equally fascinating and unique. They work side by side, everyday in the dovecotes together at Masada. They all have darkness in their past and secrets to share, and have to lean on each other through the difficult time of what later becomes known as the First Jewish-Roman War.

This was a wonderful read! Every sentence is beautifully crafted. Alice Hoffman’s vision of what it would have been like to hide-out in Herod’s great fortress is astounding. I wanted to crawl inside the book and experience it for myself (aside from the whole mass suicide thing, of course.) Seriously, read this book! You won’t regret it!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Downton Abbey

Today one of my library patrons reminded me how long it's been since I've updated my blog. Yes, it's been a long time since I've made any recommendations, and even longer since I recommended something from Masterpiece. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I love Masterpiece, and I'm so excited that the 2012 season is kicking off with season two of Downton Abbey!

I absolutely fell in love with this show last season and was blown away by the major cliff hanger in the last episode! I couldn't help but draw comparisons between Downton Abbey and the original Upstairs Downstairs series. Downton begins just before WWI and is set on a large estate where a wealthy family and all of thier servants live under the same roof. We see all the major events unfold from the perspective of both the privileged upper class and the myriad of servants down in the kitchen. It was such an exciting time in history with all of the social, economic and technological changes that seemed to happen over night. And to witness it all through the eyes of such colorful characters is just a bonus!

I would highly recommend watching this show, if you haven't already. The first season is out on DVD which you should be able to obtain through your local library. You can also watch episodes online at the Masterpiece website. The new season begins January 8th (THIS SUNDAY!) on PBS. For more details visit: Downton Abbey is British drama at it's finest, so be sure to check it out!!