I must admit I had been skeptical before I started reading this book: I don’t like books that describe ancient times, because I can rarely relate to them. Yet because this book describes Masada, which I have always been fascinated with, and because it has a Jewish theme, and I am always on the lookout for excellent books describing my people, I decided to give it a go.
It was an excellent read that kept engaged from page 1 to the very last page. The book follows the life story of four women: Yael, Aziza, Revka and Shira. All of them are extraordinary and strong women. All of them had to make sometimes uncomfortable and maybe not so right choices.
This book tells the story of a very painful time in Jewish history: the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. The lives of these four women intersect during that time. I loved how honestly the characters are described: these are not some imaginary heroic women who are concentrated on being perfect and helping the nation. Of course, they want to help their people, but they also love and hate fiercely. They make mistakes and follow their hearts, and that helped me to relate to this book.
My favourite character in this book is Yael. Her story is a bit hard to stomach: the death of her Mom in childbirth, her father not paying much attnetion to her, her Dad and Brother being assassins, the story of how she met her Son’s Dad. But everything that is described there is a story of a strong woman, the woman who does not ever give up, and follows her instincts, and I loved that about Yael.
The descriptions of Masada in the book are excellent. They are so vivid and portray what I have always imagined: a fortress, almost a symbol of strength and holding on, a strict schedule and beauty of it. I could almost see the every day life described.
My only slight disappointment in the book was its ending, and where Yael ended up living. As a Jew, I had a bit of hopes for her staying with the Jewish people and being a symbol of hope and promise for the nation. Yet I guess this is a very honest book about life, not only about the history, that is why Yael started her life somewhere very far from the Jewish nation at the end of the book.
The story itself however is an amazing insight into the Jewish character, life and spirit, and I am immensely thankful to the author for it.