Told through Dinah's eloquent voice, this sweeping novel reveals the traditions and turmoil of ancient womanhood. Dinah's tale begins with the story of her mothers: Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah, the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that are to sustain her through a hard-working youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land.
Dinah tells us of the world of the red tent, the place where women were sequestered during their cycles of birthing, menses, and illness; of her initiations into the religious and sexual practices of her tribe; of Jacob's courtship with his four wives; of the mystery and wonder of caravans, farmers, shepherds, and slaves; of love and death in the city of Shechem; and of her half-brother Joseph's rise in Egypt.
Passionate, earthy, deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable contribution to modern fiction: a vibrant new perspective of female life in the age that shaped our civilization and our values.
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About the Author
Diamant says it was the relationship between Leah and Rachel that stimulated her thinking about The Red Tent. "The Biblical story that pits the two sisters against one another never sat right with me. The traditional view of Leah as the ugly and/or spiteful sister, and of Jacob as indifferent to her, seemed odd in light of the fact that the Bible gives them nine children together...As I re-read Genesis over the years, I settled on the story of Dinah, their daughter. The drama and her total silence (Dinah does not utter a single word in the Bible) cried out for explanation, and I decided to imagine one."
Aiding her work was "midrash," the ancient and still vital literary form, which means "search" or "investigation."
"Historically, the rabbis used this highly imaginative form of storytelling to make sense of the elliptical nature of the Bible-to explain, for example, why Cain killed Abel...The compressed stories and images in the Bible are rather like photographs. They don't tell us everything we want or need to know. Midrash is the story about what happened before and after the photographic flash."
She points out that "The Red Tent is not a translation but a work of fiction. Its perspective and focus-by and about the female characters-distinguishes it from the Biblical account in which women are usually peripheral and often totally silent. By giving Dinah a voice and by providing texture and content to the sketchy Biblical descriptions, my book is a radical departure from the historical text."
Date of Birth:June 27, 1951
Place of Birth:New York, New York
Education:M.A. in English, SUNY, Binghamton, NY, 1975; B.A. in Comparative Literature, Washington Univ., St. Louis, MO, 1973.
Read an Excerpt
Their stories began with the day that my father appeared. Rachel came running into camp, knees flying, bellowing like a calf separated from its mother. But before anyone could scold her for acting like a wild boy, she launched into a breathless yarn about a stranger at the well, her words spilling out like water into sand.
Rachel stuck out her lower lip in a pout that would have been childlike only a few hours earlier. Something had happened since she opened her eyes that morning, when the most pressing matter on her mind had been to find the place where Leah hid her honey. Leah, that donkey, would never share it with her, but hoarded it for guests, giving tastes to pathetic little Bilhah and no one else.
All Rachel could think of now was the shaggy stranger whose eyes had met hers with a shock of recognition that had rattled her to the bone.
Rachel knew what Leah meant, but the fact that she had not yet begun to bleed meant nothing to her now. And her cheeks burned.
"What's this?" said Leah, suddenly amused. "She is smitten. Look at her," she said. "Have you ever seen the girl blush before?"
"What did he do to you?" asked Laban, growling like a dog who senses an intruder near his herd. He clenched his fists and beetled his brow and turned his full attention to Rachel, the daughter he had never once hit, the daughter whom he rarely looked at full in the face. She had frightened him from her birth-a tearing, violent entry that had killed her mother. When the baby finally emerged, the women were shocked to see that it was such a small one-a girl at that-who had caused so many days of trouble, costing her mother so much blood and finally her life.
Rachel's presence was powerful as the moon, and just as beautiful. Nobody could deny her beauty. Even as a child who worshiped my own mother's face, I knew that Leah's beauty paled before her younger sister's, a knowledge that always made me feel like a traitor. Still, denying it would have been like denying the sun's warmth.
Rachel's beauty was rare and arresting. Her brown hair shaded to bronze, and her skin was golden, honeyed, perfect. In that amber setting, her eyes were surprisingly dark, not merely dark brown but black as polished obsidian or the depth of a well. Although she was small-boned and, even when she was with child, small-breasted, she had muscular hands and a husky voice that seemed to belong to a much larger woman.
Leah's vision was perfect. According to one of the more ridiculous fables embroidered around my family's history, she ruined her eyes by crying a river of tears over the prospect of marrying my uncle Esau. If you believe that, you might also be interested in purchasing a magical toad that will make all who look upon you swoon with love.
My aunt Zilpah, Laban's second-born, said that she remembered everything that ever happened to her. She laid claim to memories of her own birth, and even of days in her mother's womb. She swore she could remember her mother's death in the red tent, where she sickened within days after Zilpah arrived in the world, feet first. Leah scoffed at these claims, though not to her sister's face, for Zilpah was the only one who could cause my mother to hold her tongue about anything.
From the age of her first blood, Zilpah thought of herself as a kind of priestess, the keeper of the mysteries of the red tent, the daughter of Asherah, the sister Siduri who counsels women. It was a foolish idea, as only priests served the goddesses of the great city temples, while the priestesses served gods. Besides, Zilpah had none of the oracle's gifts. She lacked the talent for herbs, and could not prophesy or conjure or read goat entrails. Leah's eight-seeded pomegranate was the only dream she ever interpreted correctly.
Zilpah was Laban's daughter by a slave named Mer-Nefat, who had been purchased from an Egyptian trader in the days when Laban still had means. According to Adah, Zilpah's mother was slender, raven-haired, and so quiet it was easy to forget she had the power of speech, a trait her daughter did not inherit.
Zilpah was only a few months younger than Leah, and after Zilpah's mother died, Adah gave them suck together. They were playmates as babies, close and loving friends as children, tending the flocks together, gathering berries, making up songs, laughing. Apart from Adah, they needed no one else in the world.
Zilpah was almost as tall as Leah, but thinner and less robust in the chest and legs. Dark-haired and olive-skinned, Leah and Zilpah resembled their father and shared the family nose, not unlike Jacob's-a regal hawk's beak that seemed to grow longer when they smiled. Leah and Zilpah both talked with their hands, thumb and forefinger pressed together in emphatic ovals. When the sun made them squint, identical lines appeared around the corners of their eyes.
But where Leah's hair was curly, Zilpah's black mane was straight, and she wore it to her waist. It was her best feature, and my aunt hated to cover it. Headdresses caused her head to pound, she said, putting a hand to her cheek with silly drama. Even as a child I was permitted to laugh at her. These headaches were the reason she gave for keeping so much inside the women's tents. She did not join the rest of us to bask in the springtime sun or find the breeze on a hot night. But when the moon was young-slender and shy, barely making herself known in the sky-Zilpah walked around the camp, swinging her long hair, clapping her hands, offering songs to encourage the moon's return.
When Jacob arrived, Bilhah was a child of eight, and she remembered nothing of the day. "She was probably up in a tree somewhere, sucking on her fingers and counting the clouds," said Leah, repeating the only thing that was remembered of Bilhah's early years.
Bilhah was the family orphan. The last daughter born of Laban's seed, she was the child of a slave named Tefnut-a tiny black woman who ran off one night when Bilhah was old enough to know she had been abandoned. "She never got over that hurt," said Zilpah with great gentleness, for Zilpah respected pain.
Bilhah was alone among them. It's not just that she was the youngest and that there were three other sisters to share the work. Bilhah was a sad child and it was easier to leave her alone. She rarely smiled and hardly spoke. Not even my grandmother Adah, who adored little girls and gathered motherless Zilpah to her inner circle and doted upon Rachel, could warm to this strange, lonely bird, who never grew taller than a boy of ten years, and whose skin was the color of dark amber.
Bilhah was not beautiful like Rachel, or capable like Leah, or quick like Zilpah. She was tiny, dark, and silent. Adah was exasperated by her hair, which was springy as moss and refused to obey her hands. Compared to the two other motherless girls, Bilhah was neglected dreadfully.
Left to herself, she climbed trees and seemed to dream. From her perch, she studied the world, the patterns in the sky, the habits of animals and birds. She came to know the flocks as individuals, giving each animal a secret name to match its personality. One evening, she came in from the fields and whispered to Adah that a black dwarf she-goat was ready to give birth to twins. It was nowhere near the season for goats to bear, and that particular animal had been barren for four seasons. Adah shook her head at Bilhah's nonsense and shooed her away.
Jacob arrived late in the afternoon in the week of a full moon, ate a simple meal of barley bread and olives, and fell into an exhausted sleep that lasted through most of the next day. Leah was mortified by the simplicity of the food they had offered him at first, so the next day she set out to produce a feast seen only at the great festivals.
"Like a post," I said.
"Like a cooking stone," said my mother.
"Like a goat turd," I said.
Jacob made a quick recovery and stayed on, week after week, until it seemed he had always been there. He took charge of the scrawny herds so Rachel no longer had to follow the animals, a job that had fallen to her in the absence of brothers.
My grandfather laid the blame for the state of his herds and his dwindling wealth upon the fact that all his sons had died at birth or in infancy, leaving him nothing but daughters. He gave no thought to his own sloth, believing that only a son would turn his luck around. He consulted the local priests, who told him to sacrifice his best rams and a bull so that the gods might give him a boy-child. He had lain with his wives and concubines in the fields, as an old midwife suggested, and all he had gotten for that effort was an itchy backside and bruises on his knees. By the time Jacob arrived, Laban had given up his hope of a son-or of any improvement in his life.
He expected nothing from Adah, who was past childbearing and sick. His other three women had died or run off, and he couldn't afford the few coins for a homely slave girl, much less the price of a new bride. So he slept alone, except for the nights he found his way up the hills to bother the flocks, like some horny little boy. Rachel said that among the shepherds, my grandfather's lust was legendary. "The ewes run like gazelles when Laban walks up the hill," they hooted.
His daughters despised him for a hundred reasons, and I knew them all. Zilpah told me that when she was a few months away from her first blood and the task fell to her of taking my grandfather his midday meal, he reached up and put his thumb and forefinger around her nipple, squeezing it as though she were a she-goat.
Leah, too, said Laban had put his hand under her robes, but when she told Adah, my grandmother had beaten Laban with a pestle until he bled. She broke the horns off his favorite household god, and when she threatened to curse him with boils and impotence, he swore never to touch his daughters again and made restitution. He bought gold bangles for Adah and all of his daughters-even Zilpah and Bilhah, which was the only time he acknowledged them as kin. And he brought home a beautiful asheraha tall pillar, nearly as big as Bilhahmade by the finest potter he could find. The women placed her up on the bamah, the high place, where sacrifices were offered. The goddess's face was especially lovely, with almond eyes and an open smile. When we poured wine over her in the dark of each new moon, it seemed to us her mouth broadened even farther in pleasure.
It was a year of change for my family. The flocks multiplied, and the grain flourished, and there was a marriage in the offing. For within a month of his arrival, Jacob asked Laban about Rachel's bride price, as she had said he would that very first day. Since it was clear that his nephew had no means or property, Laban thought he could get the man cheap, and made a magnanimous show of offering his daughter for a mere seven years' service.
Rachel yelled at Adah, who cuffed her and told her to take her temper elsewhere. Rachel, in turn, slapped Bilhah, cursed at Zilpah, and snarled at Leah. She even kicked dust at Jacob's feet, calling him a liar and a coward before bursting into pretty tears on his neck.
"Whose fairness is like Anath's fairness
Whose beauty like Astarte's beauty?
"Astarte is now in your womb, You bear the power of Elath."
The women sang all the welcoming songs to her while Rachel ate date honey and fine wheat-flour cake, made in the three-cornered shape of woman's sex. She drank as much sweet wine as she could hold. Adah rubbed Rachel's arms and legs, back and abdomen with aromatic oils until she was nearly asleep. By the time they carried her out into the field where she married the earth, Rachel was stupid with pleasure and wine. She did not remember how her legs came to be caked with earth and crusted with blood and smiled in her sleep.
She was full of joy and anticipation, lazing in the tent for the three days, collecting the precious fluid in a bronze bowl-for the first-moon blood of a virgin was a powerful libation for the garden. During those hours, she was more relaxed and generous than anyone could remember her.
As soon as the women rose from their monthly rites, Rachel demanded that the wedding date be set. None of her foot-stamping could move Adah to change the custom of waiting seven months from first blood. So it was arranged, and although Jacob had already worked a year for Laban, the contract was sealed and the next seven months were Laban's too.
Reading Group Guide
About this Guide
The following author biography and list of questions about The Red Tent are intended as resources to aid individual readers and book groups who would like to learn more about the author and this book. We hope that this guide will provide you a starting place for discussion, and suggest a variety of perspectives from which you might approach The Red Tent.
Anita Diamant's Reflections on The Red Tent
It was 1991. I had hit the big Four-Oh, and after fifteen perfectly happy years as a freelance journalist and writer of nonfiction books about Jewish life, I felt the need for a challenge and a change. And so I tried my hand at fiction.
I spent nearly four years on The Book of Dinah, which was the working title for what eventually became The Red Tent. I considered the research and writing a sort of hobby/sideline, which I fit in between article for various newspapers and magazines and working on Choosing a Jewish Life, a guidebook for people converting to Judaism.
Having published four books with a fifth under contract, I certainly hoped to see my novel in print someday. But because no one was breathlessly awaiting my fictional debut, I had no expectations or deadlines to meet or disappoint. And although I was sure that there was an audience for a retelling of a biblical story from the perspective of the female characters, I was well aware that plenty of published books never find their readers.
So I was amazed by and thankful for the success of The Red Tent, which found its audience largely through word-of-mouth recommendations and support from book groups. Over the past ten years, I've heard from hundreds of readers, and although some correspondents have been dismayed and even enraged about the sacrilege I committed by my use of biblical characters and situations, the vast majority have been generous, kind, and even passionate in their praise. (My thanks to each and every one of you who took the time to write.)
Writing a book is not entirely unlike having a babyexcept with a book you go through labor, give birth, and then wait nine months to see your little darling. Even so, once a book is finished and launched into the world, like a child it takes on a life of its own, quite independent of its mother. Readers have responded to words and scenes, characters and situations in ways that I could have never predicted. Midwives, labor-anddelivery nurses, obstetricians, and doulas claim The Red Tent as their own because of its many portrayals of women's bravery in childbirth. Christians and Jews of all affiliations have compared chapters in my novel with passages in Genesis and Exodus, exploring differences and similarities as a way to understand their own connection to the biblical text. High school teachers and college professors assign the book to spark conversations about everything from the difference between history and historical fiction, to women's changing role in society. Women with sisters have told me they identify with the bonds between Dinah's four mother/aunties. Men (yes, there are male readers of The Red Tent) enjoy the sense of getting "fly-on-the-wall" insights into women's hearts.
And then there are emails like this:
I recently finished your book, The Red Tent, and as a 16-year-old, I have to say you've opened my eyes to a new way of thinking about my life as a woman, a sister, a daughter, and hopefully, a wife and mother. . . . Your story . . . connects me to some roots, and I feel a strength coming from the millions of women before me, who have experienced and survived adversity, made mistakes and still lived their lives despite it. . . .
I was drawn to retell the biblical story of Dinah in large part because of her silence. In Genesis 34, Dinah's experience is described and characterized by the men in her family, who treat her as a rape victim, which in that historical setting meant that she was irredeemably ruined and degraded. Because she does not say a word (and because of the extraordinary loving actions taken by her accused assailant), I found it easy to imagine an alternative telling to the story, in which Dinah is not a passive victim but a young woman who makes choices and acts on her own initiative. Not only did I find it easy, I found it necessary.
I am gratified and proud that that readersespecially young onesfeel affirmed and empowered by the essential courage, dignity, and beauty of the female experiences I portrayed in The Red Tent. When I am asked if I consider myself a feminist, the question is usually couched within some sort of apology, as though the word itself was an insult. I am as proud to be called a feminist as I am to be called a Jew, or an American. Feminism is an indivisible part of who I am,and I remain mystified by the stigma that has been attached to the idea that women are human beings.
It sounds so obvious and simple to me, so motherhood and apple pie. And yet the idea that women are human beings remains news, a message that requires constant, clear, and artful reinforcement in a world that continues to undermine the confidence and abilities of girls and women. On the day that the intelligence and talents of women are fully honored and employed, the human community and the planet itself will benefit in ways we can only begin to imagine. I am so grateful that you chose to read these pages. I hope that you will find meaning and hope in my words. And I pray that you will go from strength to strength, always.
1. Read Genesis 34 and discuss how The Red Tent changes your perspective on Dinah's story and also on the story of Joseph that follows. Does The Red Tent raise questions about other women in the Bible? Does it make you want to re-read the Bible and imagine other untold stories that lay hidden between the lines?
2. Discuss the marital dynamics of Jacob's family. He has four wives; compare his relationship with each woman?
3. What do you make of the relationships among the four wives?
4. Dinah is rich in "mothers." Discuss the differences or similarities in her relationship with each woman.
5. Childbearing and childbirth are central to The Red Tent. How do the fertility childbearing and birthing practices differ from contemporary life? How are they similar? How do they compare with your own experiences as a mother or father?
6. Discuss Jacob's role as a father. Does he treat Dinah differently from his sons? Does he feel differently about her? If so, how?
7. Discuss Dinah's twelve brothers. Discuss their relationships with each other, with Dinah, and with Jacob and his four wives. Are they a close family?
8. Female relationships figure largely in The Red Tent. Discuss the importance of Inna, Tabea, Werenro, and Meryt.
9. In the novel, Rebecca is presented as an Oracle. Goddesses are venerated along with gods. What do you think of this culture, in which the Feminine has not yet been totally divorced from the Divine? How does El, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, fit into this?
10. Dinah's point of view is often one of an outsider, an observer. What effect does this have on the narrative? What effect does this have on the reader?
11. The book travels from Haran (contemporary Iraq/Syria), through Canaan and into Shechem (Israel), and into Egypt. What strikes you about the cultural differences Dinah encounters vis-à-vis food, clothing, work, and male-female relationships.
12. In The Red Tent, we see Dinah grow from childhood to old age. Discuss how she changes and matures. What lessons does she learn from life? If you had to pick a single word to describe the sum of her life, what word would you choose? How would Dinah describe her own life experience?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This novel follows the tale of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob barely mentioned in the Old Testament. In the Hebrew Bible, she is seen as a young girl who a handsome prince took advantage of, and that the following slaughter was the result of her family defending her honor. I went into this book solely expecting a rich, entertaining story and that's what I got. I never read the story in the Bible, so I didn't have any expectations in regard to being accurate. I learned much from this book and I could picture the vivid scenery. The way it was written was just so beautiful. Scenes that I would have otherwise found awkward were handled tenderly with grace. This family saga is a tribute to women and mothers everywhere, even those we have forgotten. I saw some reviews saying how this book treated men poorly and two-dimensionally, but I disagree. Dinah treated her male relatives with respect, and her later hatred of them was for personal reasons only- not just because they were men. The reason the men weren't as fleshed out as the women is simply because Dinah did not know them as well. She was surrounded by women, so that's what would have stuck with her. It seems the more impressed I am with a book, the less I have to say about it. Overall a beautiful, sad story about womanhood and family that I whole-heartedly recommend.
Although Diamant's depiction of the life of Dinah may differ from the version given in the Bible, this does not make her tale invalid. The many details in the book make it clear that the time period and status of women has been researched to the very utmost...whereas during the time of the Bible, women were not given a voice...these things were ignored. It was a highly moving tale... and who is to say that Joseph did not become selfish, or that Dinah was not in love with Shalem? Would Dinah have been asked before her history was recorded so briefly? A moving, captivating read, that I would recommend not only to women but to anyone willing to keep an open mind.
The Red Tent is about Dinah, daughter of Jacob, who is one of the characters in the Bible. It tells the story of life growing up during Biblical times and the struggles for women. It starts of with Dinah living with her mothers and their responsibilities in the community. Their connection with each other helps them through the struggles they endure because they have to live with someone with different beliefs and on his own mission of shaping Christianity. We then follow Dinah to Shechem where she learns to become a midwife and falls in love with a prince, Shalem. After they are married, her brothers, Levi and Simon, slaughter her husband because they felt he had taken their sister without permission. Dinah is then left with Shalem's mother, Re-Nefer, and they run away together to Egypt to live with her brother. In Egypt, Dinah raises her son and remarries. Eventually, she is confronted with her past when she runs into Joseph, Jacob's son. But is able to go back to her life in Egypt, leaving her past behind her. Dinah's story is one of empowerment and overcoming of obstacles. What I really liked about this was that it didn't feel like a Biblical tale but an almost non-fiction documentary on the women's life in ancient times. I recommend this book because it provides insight on a more difficult time and how women have always been fighting for their freedom and a place in history.
I can't say enough about Anita Diamant's Red Tent. I have read it twice in 8 years and after both reads I took away something different. The story through the eyes of Dinah is amazing, and you can really identify with the characters as Diamant develops them throughout the course of the book. Some may view it as sexist and chauvanistic, but the reality of a woman's role in ancient society is well thought out and researched. The fictional idea of a women's tent is a testament to the strength and solidarity the author sees in women. I loved how Diamant weaved Old Testament elements with fiction, and did so in such a way that it leaves you really wanting to know more of these ancient people and their ways of life. The book does not purport to be an analysis of the story of Dinah, which in the Old Testament is brief and told through the eyes of the men in her family. Nor does Diamant sell herself an expert in religion, it is merely the fictional autobiography of a small blip on the biblical radar that was Dinah. Be prepared to cry and laugh and truly experience the emotions of the all the characters, even those who are only part of the periphery of the main story. Finally the development of the story keeps you interested and emotionally invested in Dinah and her story- from start to finish. I can't recommend this book enough! It is a must own for everyone who loves to read! (I have it in paperback and in ebook!)
This is one of the most incredible books out there. Men and women should be required to read this it is so great. I laughed, cried and was awestruck by the story. It is a great summer read. I could not put it down.
As soon as i read the first page of this book i just wanted more and more. This is a touching book with such realism you'll think you're with dinah the whole time through her adventure. Its a heart-wrenching/warming story that you will want to read again and again.(which i have done!)...you will not regret getting this book. 10000000% recommended!
I truly loved this book!! Im not a very religious person and have not read the Bible, but this story is amazing! Its about time you hear something of the women of that time..and what a story Dinah has to tell!! I rarely cry reading a book,but at the end of this book when all is said and done I felt so overwhelmed, I cried and cried!! Do yourself a favor and read this book!!
I found this book to be enchanting. Her story telling was superb and kept me hooked. The book was rich and full of passion, intelligence and history. Regardless of your religious background, a worthy book for your time. Anita Diamant takes the cake in my book! A well documented tale of the women and journeys of this time, told in the eyes of Dinah, daughter of Jacob, Leah, Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah. Take your time and put your feet up- you're in for a great tale.
This was a book recommended to me by my Manager at a B-Dalton store. She said it was a Good Book but she didn't say it was a GREAT BOOK!!! I began reading it just after purchasing it and could not leave off. The story grabs you by the throat and won't let go. The characters in the book are vivid and there is genuine pathos. I finished it 11 1/2 hours later. The history of 'The Red Tent' or a place for women to go while on their Moon (Menstrual) Cycle was well told and Ms. Diamant did her research well. I think ALL Women should read this. No matter what their beliefs are.
What a moving story. For those of you who have not been able to accept the fact that his-tory has been written exclusively by and for men, you will adore this tale. What a beautiful tale of biblical times. Took only 3 days to read. Afterwards, I sat in perfect peace thinking about the characters and how touching each woman was in her own unique way. Highly recommend for any woman looking for a story of mother/daughter relationships. Makes me think fondly of my late mother and how special she was (and still is) in my life.
A tale of ladies and their strength in the biblical times.
It would be so cool if we continued to have these tents for women to go to. I for one think there is wisdom to the old ways. As I get older I enjoy the company of women more and more for comfort and humor. I imagine what today's world would be like if women did have a place to go and just be with one another. I think many of our young women would not be making the tragic and lonely choices they make if we had this kind of environment for one another. I know its unpopular but I even think the many wives might not be such a bad idea either, maybe that is the solution to divorce. Maybe we're not supposed to have one man to one woman? Just a thought.
This is my favorite book. I never go back and re-read books but this one I keep coming back to about every 1.5 years.
What a beautiful, moving, earthy story. You are guaranteed to breathe in the dust and swirl your fingers through the waters of the Nile in this jewel. Fiction...but fascinating. Faceless names will come alive as the story of Dinah unfolds. Don't miss this one or the laughter and tears it will bring.
A friend commented on Facebook that she was reading this book on WeRead. Since I received a Nook for Mother's Day, I have been adding books I'd like to read to my Wish List. I immediately went to Barnes & Noble to see if it was in ebook form. I purchased it and found it to be an excellent book. It is a book that could be read in one sitting if a person were inclined to do that. The author is very graphic in describing the behavior of the men and the interactions between the men and women. The women of this day had a very hard life and suffered greatly in child birth and their daily living. It was very easy to fill great compassion for Dinah and all that she endured. Knowing the Bible story of Joseph and his brothers, I wondered if that aspect would be included in the story. It was, however not as told in the Bible. It is a work of fiction, I kept telling myself. However, I did not want the story to end. In the end, Dinah did find happiness in her life.
Wow!! How imaginative the author was in this delightful book. You get to know the women of this story very well. The story takes us back to biblical times and peers into the life of Jacob's wives and only daughter. It is amazing how this story makes you want to go back and read the biblical text to see how much of Dinah's life and story were missing. The diabolical plot of Dinah's brothers and the weakness of Jacob even though he was to be the beginning of Isreal. The plot brings you reaching for more and wanting knowledge of what did really happen then and what the women and especially Dinah were thinking. Great book to read and I had to finish it as quickly as possible as I was gripped by what would happen next. The story of women of the Bible is greatly missing and this is a wonderful fictitious view of what may have been the lives of the women of Isreal in those times and how history can be told by different point of view or fantasy. I recommend this book to all, it was facinating and a must read!
This book was recommended to me by another woman in a group which I belong to and I must say it is one of the better books that I have read in a long time. Although the book is not accurate when compared to the events of the Bible (although it was published by men so the perspective is slanted toward the masculine perspective), it gives a fictional account of the time through the eyes of a woman. It also celebrates the transformation from a girl into her womanhood, shows the fellowship of women and demonstrates the strength that they gather from going through common experiences that no man could ever understand.
This book was passed along to me by a good friend with great taste. I was dubious at first, since I'm only somewhat familiar with the Bible, and am actually a little skeptical about organized religion in general. Well, I was floored. FLOORED! It is a story that surpasses the boundaries of Biblical lore and draws on the strength, joy, and suffering of humanity, as well as the beauty and power of love. It made me proud to be a woman. Additionally, I think it was also the most perfect final two pages of a book that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Selah.
I'm not familiar with the bible at all, but you really don't have to have a strong religous background to enjoy it.
The author herself tells you that this is not a true story, so I dont think anyone should take offense, but if nothing else it makes you think about what life was like back in biblical times. The book is written so well that while you are reading it you are in it, and you want to be there.
This was the most astonishing book i had ever read. I finished it within a week, and that was juggling school, a job, children, and all the other tasks of life. I laughed, cried, and got angry. After the book i was still touched by Dinah's story and pondered on it for days. I cried to myself when i thought about the loss of love and family. THIS IS A MUST READ BOOK!!!!
This book sat on a shelf for almost a year before I finally got the courage to pick it up. My lack of knowledge of Biblical times is mainly what initially intimidated me about it. As soon as I began reading I was hooked on this incredible story of feminine power and mysticism. I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys reading about mother/child relationships and love. EXCELLENT ALL THE WAY!
A great tale, imagining the women's story that is hidden behind the Biblical stories of Jacob and Joseph. This work contains some wonderful moments, and the second and third major sections are very good indeed. But, I have two complaints that drop this work down to a 3-star rating. First, the first major section, in which Dinah relates the stories she has heard from and about her 'mothers' is necessary for character development and contains some good stories as well, but it just seems too long and too detailed. I almost stopped before getting past this part.Second, Diamant seems to be determined to marginalize or demonize the male characters; especially those that are primarily the protagonists in the Biblical tales. Yes, the Bible is male-centered and the women in the Biblical stories are mostly marginalized. But the whole book would have seemed more real if Diamant had made a few of the male characters 3-dimensional (or at least 2-dimensional). Her apparent purpose - to show that the women in these stories probably had a lot to do with events and that they and most of the men probably believed in many gods and godesses - could have been accomplished with the book still being female-centered, but without making nearly every male either brutal, clueless, and/or irrelevent.Os.
The Red Tent retells the biblical story of Dinah, Jacob's daughter. Essentially, Dinah is pretty much a footnote in the Bible, so Diamant really fleshes out the story of Dinah. In The Red Tent, women are strong and intelligent and hard-working. Menstration is not seen as disgusting in this book, but something to celebrate. Really, reading this book I felt proud to be a woman. To me, this book was well-written, parts of it just broke my heart, but other parts made my heart swell. Diamant's writing style pulled me in and kept me hooked until the very end.
Just because it was a sort of feminist take on a biblical theme and explores some rituals that are not dealt with much in fiction doesn't make this novel good literature. I was quite interested for a few pages but this interest rapidly diminished. I found it too light for my taste. It was a novelty act not a class act..