In her Acknowledgements, Hoffman writes that "The Dovekeepers is a novel set during and after the fall of Jerusalem (70 C.E.). The book covers a period of four years as the Romans waged war against the Jewish stronghold of Masada, claimed by a group of nine hundred rebels and their families. The story is taken from the historian Josephus, who has written the only account of the siege, in which he reported that two women and five children survived the massacre on the night when the Jews committed mass suicide rather than submit to the Roman Legion. It was they who told the story to the Romans, and, therefore, to the world." I believe that this base of the story--this heart, really--is both the greatest strength and the greatest downfall of Hoffman's work in this ambitious story.Those familiar with Hoffman's work will recognize her style, albeit writ large: the book has multiple narrators of various ages and experiences, beset by various challenges. The first difference here, though, is that each voice tells a single large chunk of the story, rather than her more usual practice of cycling between the voices regularly, letting no voice ever really attain full control of the story. In The Dovekeepers, this becomes a problem. While the story covers so much ground and material that jumping between the voices would likely be both jarring and overwhelming for a reader, particularly when the voices aren't always known to one another, the practice of giving each voice a single continuous chunk of the narrative means that readers repeatedly fall into a single voice and get interested in that trajectory, only to be yanked away to another character's genesis and journey. For me, personally, this meant that I had to continually re-enter the novel, and continually gain back an interest that was in full swing until the sudden switch. In the end, I'm not sure the work could have been successfully written any other way and still remain in first person...but then, I also think it might have been the primary fault in the novel, for this reader at least.Stylistically, the scope also became problematic. The story that Hoffman relates in the acknowledgements, and the history behind the novel, is both loaded and far-reaching. Simply, I have to think that the novel just attempted to cover too much ground, and that what's written/attempted here might have been better suited to a full series of works. In the end, I'm glad to have read this work, and Alice Hoffman's writing is so gorgeous, as always, that I was never really tempted to forego finishing the book. At the same time, it didn't hold me in the way that her novels usually do, and I didn't feel the same attachment to any character--let alone all of them--as I've come to expect from her narratives. I appreciate the story, and the narrative, and the history, and the incredible amount of research which must have gone into this work. And, I can easily see why critics have been calling this her masterpiece. Still, it is so unlike her other work, and I can only finish my experience with the work by saying that I'm glad to have read it, and gone on the journey, even though I likely won't return. Still, for any reader of Hoffman, or any reader interested in related ancient history, this is absolutely worth looking into, albeit with the acknowledgement that it is not a particularly easy or fast read.