The Dovekeepers was one of the books I requested for Christmas and I wasn't disappointed. The novel tells the story of four very different women, all dovekeepers in the Jewish fortress of Masada, where, on this seemingly impregnable mountaintop, Jewish zealots made a stand against the Romans in 70 CE.
I've always been fascinated by the history of Masada and Hoffman brings this centuries - old story to vivid life -- the people, the politics, and the economy of a group living in isolated self-sufficiency .
And that's where the dovekeepers of the title come in -- on Masada, dovecotes or columbariums (the picture below is what remains of one) provided not only squabs and eggs but, more importantly, fertilizer for the gardens and orchards. (Wikipedia has an excellent article on dovecotes HERE.)
Like Wolf Hall, another of my Christmas requests, this is a fascinating and complex book and one that I'll certainly reread.