Sunday, June 30, 2013

Jewish (Not Necessarily Kosher :)) Literature

Well that was the last of my kindle books - once I stopped, I didn't go back (hopefully I still will, as I will soon be in possession of both a kindle and a nook, having won the latter for signing up for back up daycare and my current activity is watching t.v. instead, which is not the greatest obv).  Anyway, what drew me away? Dov's grandmother gave me some paperbacks for my birthday.  A very nice gift, and of course I had to read them.  Not in my usual style (unsurprisingly, we don't really have the same taste in books) but I don't mind venturing out of my comfort zone *once* on a while :)  (Incidentally, she gave me three books, but one I had already read on one such venture, and enjoyed very much - the Henrietta Lachs book, reviewed here).  The first of the two I picked up was The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman.  She's I think a fairly popular author, not sure what most of her books are like but this one was serious historical fiction - a story of four Jewish women and the siege of Masada.  Interesting stuff, right?

(ok, I started this back in May, it is now the last day of June.. and I must have read this book in February (since that's when my birthday is :)) but let's hope I can still say something mildly interesting :))

Anyway, yes, the historical era was not my comfort zone, the sepia-toned cover didn't suggest a light-hearted romp, but I was going to read it.  And really, it's not like I ever find Jewish-themed reading boring... just sometimes offensive :) Well I can't say I was offended, per se, but I did take note of the *numerous* inaccuracies.  I'm sure there was a lot of research done, but there was of course a lot of artistic license applied as well... so I feel free to believe that the majority of the Jewish people at the time  of Masada were not, in fact, the practitioners and purveyors of magic (kishuf, that is) and that they did value the laws of marriage etc. more than this crowd seems to.  But you know, devout Jews wouldn't make for very good reading, this mix of mystical magic and earthy, opinionated women is a story people can recognize.

So taken out of the Jewish context, as it really must be to be appreciated on its own merit,  was the book good? It was a fairly mesmerizing read, I didn't have any trouble going through it.  And the history (the real history of Masada, or at least Masada according to Josephus) is definitely something I was happy to hear more about.  The story itself.. well it was one of those intertwined stories, four individual tales that only intersected at the end.  Though not necessarily the most fascinating tales outside of the history, the history in combination with the powerful voices narrating it (I think all told a good story, though I was more sympathetic with some than others) were decent reading.

Bottom line - not like I loved this book or anything, not like I expected to.  But it was on the higher end of my expectations for readability and, if you can get past the inaccurate portrayal of Judaism (not that I'm sure one should get past it) the subject matter is one that I at least, find appealing.

Verdict: 2.5/5

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