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The Red Tent

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Author: Anita Diamant

Published: October 1997 by St. Martin's Press (first published 1997)

Format: Hardcover , 324 pages

Isbn: 9780312353766

Language: English


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Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. Told in Dinah's voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood—the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of her mothers—Leah, Rachel, Zi Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. Told in Dinah's voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood—the world of the red tent. It 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 sustain her through a hard-working youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past. Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of biblical women's society.

30 review for The Red Tent

  1. 5 out of 5

    Skylar Burris

    The Red Tent is (very) loosely based on the story of Dinah in Genesis, and it is a book that is very easy to read. Dinah's tale is one that deserves fleshing out; in the Bible it is an interesting though undeveloped and uncertain chronicle. The author does a fairly decent job of developing her female characters, but her male characters are largely flat, stereotypical, and unnecessarily negative. In the Bible, the characters of Jacob and Joseph are more well-rounded; they are humans with both fau The Red Tent is (very) loosely based on the story of Dinah in Genesis, and it is a book that is very easy to read. Dinah's tale is one that deserves fleshing out; in the Bible it is an interesting though undeveloped and uncertain chronicle. The author does a fairly decent job of developing her female characters, but her male characters are largely flat, stereotypical, and unnecessarily negative. In the Bible, the characters of Jacob and Joseph are more well-rounded; they are humans with both faults and virtues, moments of greatness and of pettiness. In Diamant’s novel, we largely see only one side to these men--the downside. We never get any sense that they are worth caring about, that there is any emotion within in them that we, as readers, can relate to. The narrator states that Jacob was devastated by Joseph's reported death, but we have no reason to believe it, since the author has neither developed nor depicted any love or affection between them. Although Diamant seems to be developing something interesting in the nature of Judah, she quickly drops the matter. The author unnecessarily, I believe, alters some segments of the Biblical narrative. She even suggests that the significant, divine naming of Israel (a true milestone in the Jewish story) was nothing more than Jacob's cowardly choice to change his name so as not to be associated with the slaughter in Schechem. When Rachel steals her father's household idol in the novel, Jacob seems both to know and yet not to care (at least for a long time). In the Bible, however, he thinks no one among him has taken it, and he basically says, "If anyone took it, let him die," in effect unknowingly cursing his beloved wife, who does die later in childbirth. Had Diamant not altered this point, it might have made for some wonderful pathos in the novel. Despite being written by a Jewish author, The Red Tent is in many ways an expression of a growingly popular modern neo-paganism, which incorporates the myth of the universal, goddess/Mother, feminist ideology, and a sort of body/self worship. I don't complain that Anita Diamant made some of the characters pagan; it is clear from the Bible that many early pre Israelites were, and of course, the Israelites themselves were always sliding back to idol worship. But in The Red Tent, Jacob appears to be the only monotheist in the world (and even his monotheism is on shaky grounds). What is more, polytheism almost seems to be portrayed as a healthy, feminine alternative to the somewhat deranged patriarchal religion of Jacob's fathers (an idea that does not comport too well with the actual historical treatment of women in cultures that embrace polytheism and goddess worship).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Embee

    I was at Border's Express one day searching for a little something to curl up in a chair with for an extended period of time. When I was approached by a clerk asking me if I needed help with anything, I KNOW, WEIRD!, right? Customer service? Who knew it even existed anymore? Anywho, I made my desire known to the saleswoman and she points me to this... I immediately think to myself, "Oh crap! a religious book!" I know I'm taking a chance at offending the church goers among you, but let's not throw I was at Border's Express one day searching for a little something to curl up in a chair with for an extended period of time. When I was approached by a clerk asking me if I needed help with anything, I KNOW, WEIRD!, right? Customer service? Who knew it even existed anymore? Anywho, I made my desire known to the saleswoman and she points me to this... I immediately think to myself, "Oh crap! a religious book!" I know I'm taking a chance at offending the church goers among you, but let's not throw stones... Think totally oppressed religious upbringing, among the most offensive group of hypocrites you can imagine and perhaps you can cut me some slack... Okay, so back to the book. Being the 'uber-polite, can't imagine offending someone to their face' type of woman that I am... Just consider it a given that I would've bought the book no matter how much it cost. Quite simply because I knew this gal would be ringing me up at the register and I just couldn't allow her to think I didn't trust her judgment, especially after asking for her advice! So I schlepped home with my 'religious' book... And you know what? I LOVED it! What an amazing story of the courage, determination and resiliency of women. Hey, just try to imagine what it would be like to be thrown into a cramped tent, with a plethora of other menstruating women, in a time when tampons had yet to be invented. The hormones alone in that one tent, make it completely understandable as to why the men steered clear and thought it best to risk their lives in the dessert in search of food, even if the 'food' ate them first! Seriously though, this book will make you proud to be a woman. I recommend reading it while you have your period... It'll make you cry. There are so many other books I've read that I'd like to mention, but this post is already long and I haven't yet gotten to the good part...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gracielou

    In Hebrew literature, there is a form called Midrash which in essence is an exegesis on Hebrew texts. Even though I'm not Jewish, I would personally categorize this book as Midrash. Why? Because Anita Diamant does not stray from the Jacob/Dinah story in the bible one whit. Many people who read this book and then go back to the biblical texts are surprised to find that there are household gods and concubines and that Jacob used some rather superstitious means to breed spotted goats, that Rachel cl In Hebrew literature, there is a form called Midrash which in essence is an exegesis on Hebrew texts. Even though I'm not Jewish, I would personally categorize this book as Midrash. Why? Because Anita Diamant does not stray from the Jacob/Dinah story in the bible one whit. Many people who read this book and then go back to the biblical texts are surprised to find that there are household gods and concubines and that Jacob used some rather superstitious means to breed spotted goats, that Rachel claimed having her period to hide the gods hidden in the sacks from her father Laban and that Dinah must have been of some importance because she is one of the few women who gets mentioned more than a few verses worth in the Pentateuch. Diamant uses her vast knowledge of the history of her faith and that time to flesh this story out in very real ways never perverting the original text. And in doing so she weaves a story of women and their bond with each other in a time and a place that is difficult to understand in our modern world but at the same time is fascinating. These characters linger with you long after the book is finished.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alejandro

    Are you ready to go into the Red Tent? JACOB’S DINASTY: THE REALITY SHOW We have been lost to each other for so long. My name means nothing to you. My memory is dust. This is not your fault, or mine. The chain connecting mother to daughter was broken and the word passed to the keeping of men, who had no way of knowing. Disfunctional family falls short to describe Jacob’s household. Nowadays, it would be easily a high-rating TV reality show! Jacob, a weak man put into the stressing place o Are you ready to go into the Red Tent? JACOB’S DINASTY: THE REALITY SHOW We have been lost to each other for so long. My name means nothing to you. My memory is dust. This is not your fault, or mine. The chain connecting mother to daughter was broken and the word passed to the keeping of men, who had no way of knowing. Disfunctional family falls short to describe Jacob’s household. Nowadays, it would be easily a high-rating TV reality show! Jacob, a weak man put into the stressing place of being a patriarch of his race, manipulated by his scheming mother and later by his insidious sons. Leah, mostly a good woman BUT willingly played her role in a mean scheme to marry her sister’s boyfriend. Zilpah and Bilhah, with a image of “not killing a fly” but they make surgical comments with the sharp edge of a knife, whenever they can. Simeon and Levi, a couple of homicidal psychos, which they don’t hesitate to kill every single man in a settlement when those men were even unable to defend themselves or even selling one of their own brothers to slave traders. Rebekah, a mother who doesn’t hesitate to favor a son of hers over the other or throwing out a granddaughter from her tribe. Good thing that God already did a flood to rid of all the bad people! Geez! THE FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME FOR DINAH If you want to understand any woman you must first ask about her mother and then listen carefully. Stories about food show a strong connection. Wistful silences demonstrate unfinished business. The more a daughter knows about the details of her mother's life - without flinching or whining - the stronger the daughter. It’s odd that in many descriptions about the book, The Red Tent, it’s mentioned that one of the intentions is to denote a different scenario for the “rape” of Dinah, and while obviously I am not a Bible Scholar, one thing that I did was to read what my Bible says about the brief mention of Dinah on it. And as I understood, indeed Dinah was a fleeting line in the middle of the huge recollection of stories in the Bible, but it was clear (at least to me) that she wasn’t raped, and clearly her brothers were a bunch of psychos (with the exception of Joseph, of course). Besides, Dinah's brothers were clearly psychos but also men of short vision, since if they were so greedy, they could take the "rape" of Dinah into their own economical benefit, and therefore, instead of asking a massive circumcision, they could ask for better lands, with water's supply and a real potential to farm and to pasture, so they could gain something tangible out of their "ruined honor". What they gained killing every single man in that fortress? Nothing! Psychos and stupid! Very bad combination! Clearly, there are several versions of the Bible and all of them are subject to translations and interpretations. My bible is the MacArthur Study Bible, basically since I wanted to have a bible with footnotes and additional info to give a deeper understanding about what’s shown in the Bible. So, I don’t discard the scenario that my Bible’s version isn’t as many others. But taking is account that the Bible (any version) has been subjected to editions, censorships, exclusions, translations, etc... so who can say what really happened? It’s amazing the vision of Anita Diamant, the author, of choosing Dinah, an ephemera, easy-to-forget Biblical character and to develop such rich and complex story around her, to expand her original Bible’s fifteen minutes of fame to her deserved epic legend about her. Because it’s really unfair to see how the twelve male offspring of Jacob became nothing less than THE patriarchs of the Twelve Tribes of Israel... ...and Dinah? Oh, just the daughter who was raped, having barely a paragraph and disappears from Bible’s records. When you think about Dinah’s role in the middle of Jacob’s direct offspring, it’s clearly odd that the Bible didn’t give her a better position, since she was the only girl between several boys, it was obvious that if God would think in somebody as special in that generation, it has to be Dinah and not the boys. But again, it’s no shock that the Bible (or rather the people who manipulated it) gives importance (in the most cases) to men’s stories only and if a woman was ever mentioned, she must be guilty of something and/or playing a discreditable line of work. It’s amazing that nowadays there are still women in the Catholic’s faith (and to be clear, I am in this religion, but I am open minded and I like to question stuff) since it’s unfair that a woman who goes into the service of God, her highest chance to climb in Catholic Church’s chain of command is to be a Mother Superior, that it’s barely one upper step from being a Nun, BUT a man? Pftt! He can be potentially the Pope! Certainly one of the best things of Anita Diamant’s approach to Dinah’s story is that while she is clearly a likeable character, she isn’t perfect, with or without justifications, she has a dark side in her soul... but don’t we all? And the story isn’t a blind feminist propaganda or a men-hating pamphlet, since if you are objective in your reading experience, you will find in the book, as many sins made by women as by men, but also great women as great men... as in real life. And at last... ...Dinah won’t be a forgotten Biblical paragraph anymore! Now, not only women but also men will be able to get inside of the Red Tent, to learn Dinah’s story, to keep her legacy, to celebrate her life, and to share it with others.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sammy

    My mom got me this book for Christmas mainly because she wanted to read it. I read the summary on the back and I was intrigued, but wasn't intending to pick it up right away until my mom demanded that I read it as soon as possible so she could read it. So I did. I read it in a day. I'm a fast reader no matter what, but give me a good book, I'll finish it faster than usual. This book was good. Excellent. I was drawn in with the first word. There were stories within stories and I was able to follow My mom got me this book for Christmas mainly because she wanted to read it. I read the summary on the back and I was intrigued, but wasn't intending to pick it up right away until my mom demanded that I read it as soon as possible so she could read it. So I did. I read it in a day. I'm a fast reader no matter what, but give me a good book, I'll finish it faster than usual. This book was good. Excellent. I was drawn in with the first word. There were stories within stories and I was able to follow each and every one of them and become absorbed. Diamant's writing took me back to this time period, and instead of pointing out all that was bad and raw in a time we often look back on as savage and uncivilized, she points out and embraces everything that was wonderful. Or at least she writes in such a way you look at it as completely normal and okay. I was also surprised how much these people embraced womanhood, when often when you hear about those times it's all about how women were submissive and cursed, born only to be slaves to men. But the women in nearly every culture Dinah passed through were respected for the most part, and held some sort of power. This is not the time when men began stepping on the women. Something happened between then and now that changed the view of womanhood to be ugly and wrong. Speaking of the women, the one problem I had was that the women the first third of the book was dedicated to, just ended up disappearing. We were lead to fall in love with these women, only to have them later have them fall off the radar. It's not a huge flaw, because Dinah has to lose them as well, and they fall of her radar as well and we do learn what happened to them in the end, but still... Other than that one small, but understandable flaw, this book was fantastic. Dinah goes on an amazing journey and it is told beautifully in her voice. Diamant has a wonderful gift as a storyteller. Do yourself a favor and sit down with this book, you will hear Dinah speak and you will feel the gritty, dirty, wonderful world she lives in. Don't let the fact that it was taken from the Bible deterr you. Diamant writes in such a way that if you are familiar with the Bible things come up and you're like, "Hey!" But, if you're not religious at all, she writes so that you aren't shut out from a special world, you are welcomed and embraced and the story is still just as wonderful.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The Red Tent, Anita Diamant Dinah opens the story by recounting for readers the union of her mother Leah and father Jacob, as well as the expansion of the family to include Leah's sister Rachel, and the handmaids Zilpah and Bilhah. Leah is depicted as capable but testy, Rachel as something of a belle, but kind and creative, Zilpah as eccentric and spiritual, and Bilhah as the gentle and quiet one of the quartet. The Red Tent is a novel by Anita Diamant, published in 1997 by Wyatt Books for St. Ma The Red Tent, Anita Diamant Dinah opens the story by recounting for readers the union of her mother Leah and father Jacob, as well as the expansion of the family to include Leah's sister Rachel, and the handmaids Zilpah and Bilhah. Leah is depicted as capable but testy, Rachel as something of a belle, but kind and creative, Zilpah as eccentric and spiritual, and Bilhah as the gentle and quiet one of the quartet. The Red Tent is a novel by Anita Diamant, published in 1997 by Wyatt Books for St. Martin's Press. It is a first-person narrative that tells the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and sister of Joseph. She is a minor character in the Bible, but the author has broadened her story. The book's title refers to the tent in which women of Jacob's tribe must, according to the ancient law, take refuge while menstruating or giving birth, and in which they find mutual support and encouragement from their mothers, sisters and aunts. It 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 sustain her through a hard-working youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز ششم ماه سپتامبر سال 1999 میلادی عنوان: چادر قرمز؛ نویسنده: آنیتا دیامنت؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان امریکایی - سده 20 م این رمان داستان گیرای «دینا»- دختر «لی» و «حضرت یعقوب» و خواهر «جوزف (حضرت یوسف)» را به تصویر میکشد. کتاب با اشاراتی که به کتاب پیدایش (نخستین بخش انجیل عهد عتیق) دارد، درباره ی زندگی زنان عهد عتیق است. «چادر قرمز» داستان مادران، دختران، قابلگی، عشق و زندگی در سرزرمین بیگانه را بازگو میکند. داستان دینه (دینا)، تنها دختر حضرت یعقوب، از همسر نخست ایشان لئه ( لئا ) است؛ نویسنده میگویند: رمان «چادر قرمز» در مورد شخصیتهای مقدسی همچون «راشل و لیا» است. ا. شربیانی

  7. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    Anita Diamant - image from her site The Red Tent offers a female perspective on the biblical tales of Jacob, father to the twelve tribes of Israel, and his family, people with some serious issues, who would be right at home on HBO, with copious quantities of blood and betrayal to hold one’s interest. Dinah was the only daughter of Jacob. It is through her eyes and her retelling of others’ tales that we see the world of that time, the social organization within the family, how they related to oth Anita Diamant - image from her site The Red Tent offers a female perspective on the biblical tales of Jacob, father to the twelve tribes of Israel, and his family, people with some serious issues, who would be right at home on HBO, with copious quantities of blood and betrayal to hold one’s interest. Dinah was the only daughter of Jacob. It is through her eyes and her retelling of others’ tales that we see the world of that time, the social organization within the family, how they related to other cultures, the roles of men and women. I found it moving to the point of tears as the end neared. The Red Tent of the title was a room of their own, where women could commune without having the male sorts leaving their socks and Cheetos crumbs all over the place. Diamant takes liberties with the story as told in the bible, (a rapist in the bible is a love interest here) which no doubt freaks out biblical literalists. Rebecca Ferguson and Iain Glen as Dinah and Jacob - from the Lifetime series Midwifery is core to the women’s experience, pointing out, ironically and tragically, the existential threat posed by pregnancy. This dovetails well with the great need of the time to attend to cycles of nature to ensure survival. The women even find themselves menstrually in synch. No coincidence that the bloodiness of birth and monthly cycles takes place in a red-colored space. Dinah’s secrecy about her own story in the novel reflects the omission of a female perspective from the tales and history we know from the bible. Her eventual ability to share her story realizes a dream of a more equal telling. The Red Tent offers an interesting and informative tale with engaging characters, particularly appropriate for female readers of most ages, and enlightening for us guys as well. The book was made into a soapy two-part miniseries on Lifetime. =============================EXTRA STUFF Links to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pages A 26-page preview from Picador A pretty interesting article on how the book, which struggled at first, found its audience en route to becoming an international best-seller, sparking a reimagining of biblical tales - Jewish Telegraphic Agency – August 1, 2017 - How ‘The Red Tent’ invented a new kind of fiction by Erika Dreifus

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    This was a very compelling read, and I don't have enough words to describe how beautiful the writing is. Anita Diamant wove a very intricate and poignant story that captivated me, and I think I'll be moonstruck for a while! The "Red Tent" follows the life of Jacob's daughter, Dinah, who's a minor character in the Book of Genesis. Diamant pretty much expanded Dinah's story and it's told from her POV. As her story unfolds, you will get to witness the lives of her mothers: Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and This was a very compelling read, and I don't have enough words to describe how beautiful the writing is. Anita Diamant wove a very intricate and poignant story that captivated me, and I think I'll be moonstruck for a while! The "Red Tent" follows the life of Jacob's daughter, Dinah, who's a minor character in the Book of Genesis. Diamant pretty much expanded Dinah's story and it's told from her POV. As her story unfolds, you will get to witness the lives of her mothers: Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah, as well. For a woman in the times of Genesis, life can be pretty scary. Back then, women had very little power. Their main function in society was to get hitched and produce heirs for their husband. The red tent is the one place where these women have their own world and their own power. You really won't get to see the red tent in the second half of the book, because Dinah is no longer with her mothers. Nevertheless, the memory of the red tent lingers throughout the book. Dinah constantly looks back at the red tent with nostalgia and longing, and so did I. I don't want to expound on the plot further and trust me, you will be better off reading it. "The Red Tent" is like an acknowledgement for all the untold stories, for the forgotten characters, and for the struggles deemed unnecessary. Most of us do not experience great glories and victories in life, rather, most of us gather our joys and small pleasures where and when we can-- and the rest of the time, we do what is necessary to survive. Dinah, does no less and does so with honor. Even minor characters have a story worth telling-- reminding us of the internal, silent, and unsung glory that can occur inside each of us as we live our lives as best we can.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Anytime a work of fiction targets a Judeo-Christian audience, it's hard to rate. Should religious doctrine be taken into account, or should we judge it solely on it's merits as a good story? Because I think some of the more negative reviews of The Red Tent are in regards to its biblical inaccuracies. Let me start by saying that if you're a moral conservative who believes in the Old Testament, I'd advise caution before reading this book. That's not to say you shouldn't read it; just be aware befo Anytime a work of fiction targets a Judeo-Christian audience, it's hard to rate. Should religious doctrine be taken into account, or should we judge it solely on it's merits as a good story? Because I think some of the more negative reviews of The Red Tent are in regards to its biblical inaccuracies. Let me start by saying that if you're a moral conservative who believes in the Old Testament, I'd advise caution before reading this book. That's not to say you shouldn't read it; just be aware beforehand that this is a story - nothing more - written by someone who has taken biblical names and accounts and re-formed them to suit her literary needs. Don't look at this as a history lesson from the Bible, Ok? And if you're easily offended, you will be. Facts are changed, beloved Old Testament patriarchs are turned into pagan brutes, and bizarre sexual rites & bestiality are accepted parts of the culture. If you can accept that this is a story and not religious history, though, then I would recommend you read this book. The narrative is rich and compelling, and the sex, though frequent, is not overly graphic. Dinah's story will draw you into her world, and cause you to experience her wonders, her heartaches, and her joys over the course of a lifetime. What I thought would be the most repugnant aspect of the story - arranged marriages & women's treatment overall in that society - is actually kind of candy-coated by the author. The women are happy, most of them desiring their husbands, and as a sex they are given far more power and respect than I think is historically accurate - though granted, I'm no historian. No doubt this is due to the author's mother-goddess philosophy, which saturates every aspect of the narrative. So to sum up: don't assume that if you go to Temple or Church you will love this book. If you are aware of what you're reading,though, then I think you will enjoy this well-crafted tale.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jena

    The ONLY reason I read this is because a post-menopausal lady I worked with at the time said, "Hey this book is great you'll love it! You have to read it and tell me what you think - my book club is reading it! I got it at Costco!" So about four chapters into it I thought, "wait this is really depressing and I don't want to even finish reading this when I can read my Bridget Jones talk about Vodka and Pride and Prejudice." But I already told her I would finish reading it and she was "expecting f The ONLY reason I read this is because a post-menopausal lady I worked with at the time said, "Hey this book is great you'll love it! You have to read it and tell me what you think - my book club is reading it! I got it at Costco!" So about four chapters into it I thought, "wait this is really depressing and I don't want to even finish reading this when I can read my Bridget Jones talk about Vodka and Pride and Prejudice." But I already told her I would finish reading it and she was "expecting feedback". whatever. Last time I ever made that mistake. Can we all say "depressing novel worse than Clan of the Cave Bear"? I thought Clan was depressing because Ula (or whatever her name was)had a totally crummy cavewoman lifestyle and she was shunned by her cave people etc. etc. - but I guess things probably didn't change TOO much by the time of Joseph's technicolor dreamcoat. (There's a reason that Dinah is only mentioned ONCE in the Old Testament - let's not hype her up like she's Judith m'kay?) Not only does this book involve a whole lotta biblical time raping and loved-ones dying left and right, but it even ends depressing. And every "time of the month", during the "red wave", all the women get sent to a "red tent" to bleed together in and bathe in. that's about it. If you want a really good novel about women growing up or whatever . . . read Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Way better than Red Tent! - and the heroine of Caged Bird is obviously more believeable with real life experiences we can relate to more than Dinah's "story".

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

    My frustration with this book stemmed primarily from the depiction of the various characters. I liked the writing, I liked the way Diamant addresses the contemporary socio-cultural issues, and I thought the characterization was quite vivid--I just didn't agree with the way the characters were presented. Yes, the people in the Bible were real people with varied flaws and gifts, but I didn't like the portrayal of so many of them as petty and conniving. And I especially didn't like the sexual depic My frustration with this book stemmed primarily from the depiction of the various characters. I liked the writing, I liked the way Diamant addresses the contemporary socio-cultural issues, and I thought the characterization was quite vivid--I just didn't agree with the way the characters were presented. Yes, the people in the Bible were real people with varied flaws and gifts, but I didn't like the portrayal of so many of them as petty and conniving. And I especially didn't like the sexual depictions in this text. While I fully recognize that there's going to be some of that in any story about a man with four wives and 13 children, I really didn't like the way it was handled or presented--it was much more about lust than about love or following the Lord's commandments.

  12. 4 out of 5

    angela

    I read this years ago, so I’m not comfortable giving it a review. I did enjoy the book, I know that.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    It doesn't matter at all what is fiction and what is history in this book - it is just as lovely to imagine what it would be like if such a custom as "the red tent" did exist. I have now finished the book. WOW! Diamant truely moves our emotions. The beauty of birth, the sorrows AND wonders of aging, the horror of injustice - elements that are a part of all lives. The ending of the book is so beautiful and profound. What exactly is it that we want to reap from our lives? What hurts most? To be to It doesn't matter at all what is fiction and what is history in this book - it is just as lovely to imagine what it would be like if such a custom as "the red tent" did exist. I have now finished the book. WOW! Diamant truely moves our emotions. The beauty of birth, the sorrows AND wonders of aging, the horror of injustice - elements that are a part of all lives. The ending of the book is so beautiful and profound. What exactly is it that we want to reap from our lives? What hurts most? To be totally forgotten, isn't that the cruelest fate? For me this was a central point of the novel! What do others think? The "red tent" did not really prevent hatred or jealousy among women. Remember how Leah and Rachael continued to feel towards each other. They merely controled their emotions. In the red tent they slept on opposite sides of the tent. However their emtions remained. They were quick to charge at the other as conflicts arose. I would say that life itself taught the women to love each other. It was each womean's struggle through life that taught them to forgive each other. Remember that Leah gave to Dinah (via Judah) Rachael's lapis ring. Furthermore, it was not only Dinah but also Benia who understood the significance of this act. Many readers disparage Diamant's characterizations of the men in the novel. Some say the men characters are "flat". I think this is wrong because she gives them insight and tenderness too. Men and women do see things differently. We do act differently, but that is not to say one is weaker or less capable or less worthy than the other. I also loved how different characters were allowed to be different. From birth people are just plain different. What a bore if we were all the same! I loved the book because it taught me a bit about biblical times and it gave me a lot to ponder. I want to read more about biblical times and customs. That is what a good book will do.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    While I enjoyed the parts about midwifery and wish that a place like the Red Tent really did exist, I think that the author got the story all wrong. She turned all the men in the book, including men like Jacob and Joseph, into sex crazed, egotistical, superstitious bigots. I think she took WAY TOO much creative license and basically re-wrote the bible to her liking. In some part she didn't even try to be historically accurate with what the bible says.For example, she says that Joseph and Potifar While I enjoyed the parts about midwifery and wish that a place like the Red Tent really did exist, I think that the author got the story all wrong. She turned all the men in the book, including men like Jacob and Joseph, into sex crazed, egotistical, superstitious bigots. I think she took WAY TOO much creative license and basically re-wrote the bible to her liking. In some part she didn't even try to be historically accurate with what the bible says.For example, she says that Joseph and Potifar's wife were lovers for a long time till he got caught, when in the bible it clearly says that Joseph ran away! Also, much of her focus is on Goddess worship, which many of the people would have practiced in that time. But I think it does a great injustice to Jacob to say that he wouldn't have taught his wives about Jehovah, and a greater injustice to think that Rachel and Leah would have continued to worship idols even after they had learned about the one true God. Anyway, while I didn't like the author's take on the story I did really love idea of the Red Tent and the birth stories. It made me wish that we had more rituals in our culture that celebrated a woman's coming of age. I LOVED the way a girl was initiated into womanhood when she got her period, and how bleeding each month and being pregnant were looked upon as a great privilege rather than an embarrassment and hassle. It is sad how we as women don't treat our bodies as the amazing gifts that they are.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    What of me? Did he mention me? Did he repent of what he did to me? He said nothing of you. Dinah is forgotten in the house of Jacob. *2018 Re-read * Recently I watched the 2014 two part episode of this book starring Minnie Driver, Rebecca Ferguson, and Iain Glen. Like any good reader that has read a book years before a screen version(and Goodread) appears, I wanted to see how my memory has held up and if this book still has that "wow" factor that I recall. Although I still would consider this bib What of me? Did he mention me? Did he repent of what he did to me? He said nothing of you. Dinah is forgotten in the house of Jacob. *2018 Re-read * Recently I watched the 2014 two part episode of this book starring Minnie Driver, Rebecca Ferguson, and Iain Glen. Like any good reader that has read a book years before a screen version(and Goodread) appears, I wanted to see how my memory has held up and if this book still has that "wow" factor that I recall. Although I still would consider this biblical fiction one of my favorites, I have to be true to my profile criteria and re-adjust a 5 star to the 4 star it deserves. Translation: While it won't be placed in my casket, I definitely would still recommend to other readers. The female relationships are the very core of this story and Anita Diamant does a stunning job of breathing new life into the Leah/Rachel/Jacob drama in the OT book of Genesis by focusing on Jacob and Leah's daughter Dinah. We have been lost to each other for so long. My name means nothing to you. My memory is dust. This is not your fault, or mine. The chain connecting mother to daughter was broken and the word passed to the keeping of men, who had no way of knowing. That is why I became a footnote, my story a brief detour between the well known history of my father, Jacob, and the celebrated chronicle of Joseph, my brother. On those rare occasions when I was remembered, it was as a victim. Near the beginning of your holy book, there is a passage that seems to say I was raped and continues with the bloody tale of how my honor was avenged. But what happened to Dinah? Well, that was where I do notice(the second time) The storyline really accelerated, but still I felt satisfied with the ending. As per the series, well it kept the core, added a few dramatic moments and didn't add quite so much genealogy of Jacob's family.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ Ouch. What a slog this friggin’ thing was. The Red Tent has literally been pushed on me by real life friends/family/acquaintances for the past 10 years. Being a not-so-religious type of gal, I actively avoided it knowing it would most likely not be my cuppa, as well as to keep the peace. When the library challenge came around requesting readers to “push their shelf” I figured it was time to bite the bullet. Now I only hope that thi Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ Ouch. What a slog this friggin’ thing was. The Red Tent has literally been pushed on me by real life friends/family/acquaintances for the past 10 years. Being a not-so-religious type of gal, I actively avoided it knowing it would most likely not be my cuppa, as well as to keep the peace. When the library challenge came around requesting readers to “push their shelf” I figured it was time to bite the bullet. Now I only hope that this doesn’t accidentally get shared to Facebook so I can continue pretending I’m not a complete heathen. The Red Tent is Dinah’s (fictional) “memoir” which tells the stories of herself and her family passed from woman to woman the first week after the new moon while they all cohabitate in the red tent due to . . . . It confirms the theory that if you put a group of females together long enough, they will all surf the crimson wave at the same time each month. It also is a great example of how we should maintain the sanctity of marriage between and a man and a woman FOUR women. Yeah, don’t let those homosexuals cheapen things, let’s go back to sisterwives of the bible times! /endsarcasm Oh and you ladies don’t need to worry about becoming a bridezilla or “saying yes to the dress.” According to the Old Testament, all you have to do is make the sexuals with your crush and you will officially be wed. Feel free to worship false idols as well. Especially if you can steal them from your molesty, wife-beating granddaddy ‘cause that bastard sure as hell doesn’t deserve them. Oh, and are those 12 sons (and god knows how many nameless daughters since females are stupid and shouldn’t even bothered being mentioned) wearing you out? See your sister/husband’s other wife and she’ll hook you up with some morning after herbs. Just don’t ask the government to pay for it! I know, I know, I know . . . . Save your breath. The one thing this book did was prove that all the religious zealots are just as fucking nutty as I always thought they were. Try reading more than Leviticus before becoming morally outraged. For the people like me who aren’t so bible-y? If you like world building, this is a winner. You’ll hear all about walking across the desert and great details about EVERY. SINGLE. THING. THEY. ATE. (spoiler alert: bread, goat cheese, olives and beer - for every fucking meal - but it was still written about EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.) What you won’t be privy to is anything that is actually interesting. Like slicing the throats of every man in an entire city. Because, what kind of flatbread they had for dinner is definitely more important than genocide . . . . . 2 Stars (barely). Book #3 in my quest for new free crap. Go me!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    I had to read "The Red Tent" for a book club I was in a few years ago. I agree with an earlier post that decribes it as chick-lit masquerading as historical fiction. It also seemed to be two different books - one set in the desert with Jacob, biblical super-stud, and his wives; and the other one set in ancient Egypt. There were all sorts of things that irritated me about this book, including: 1. Descriptions like how everyone loves Rachel because she smells like water. What kind of water - pond w I had to read "The Red Tent" for a book club I was in a few years ago. I agree with an earlier post that decribes it as chick-lit masquerading as historical fiction. It also seemed to be two different books - one set in the desert with Jacob, biblical super-stud, and his wives; and the other one set in ancient Egypt. There were all sorts of things that irritated me about this book, including: 1. Descriptions like how everyone loves Rachel because she smells like water. What kind of water - pond water? Dishwater? Bilgewater - like this book? 2. The ritual stuff with the onset of menstruation - perhaps my memory is playing tricks with me, but I seem to recall a weird segment that sounded like some Tantric-drumming-circle workshop in the mountains that a co-worker described to me years ago, which included a dildo carved out of stone (the bit in the book, not the drumming circle the co-worker attended). If this segment was historically accurate, well then all I can say is: "Them was the bad ol' days." 3. The episiotomy scene. 4. The latter portion of the book, where the main character (Dinah?) has gone to Egypt, gets a job working for the Pharoah, gives her baby to him and his wife to raise as their own - then all of a sudden we gallop forward and her kid is grown up and she's only vaguely regretful that he never knew she was his mother then marries some Egyptian dude and is the local midwife, using all that great knowledge gained in the red tent - the rest was so boring and unmemorable that I confess I have indeed forgotten it. Overall, this book felt a bit like "Daughter of Fortune", set in some historial period where the women suffer, suffer, and suffer some more until the end, when tempered by their miserable experiences, they live happily ever after delivering babies or healing people with Chinese medicine.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Shovelmonkey1

    This book is my exception to the rule book. Generally I will be tying on my sneakers good and secure, and heading for the hills at great speed if anyone threatens (recommends) me with a tale of female bonding, sisterhood and lovey-dovey fuzziness. At first glance I would have interpreted this as a sort of biblical version of the First Wives club or some other story where all the ladies band together in order to achieve some sense of self and self worth and to high five each other and sing songs This book is my exception to the rule book. Generally I will be tying on my sneakers good and secure, and heading for the hills at great speed if anyone threatens (recommends) me with a tale of female bonding, sisterhood and lovey-dovey fuzziness. At first glance I would have interpreted this as a sort of biblical version of the First Wives club or some other story where all the ladies band together in order to achieve some sense of self and self worth and to high five each other and sing songs and shout like Annie Lennox about how sisters are doing it for themselves. Listen.... you can hear the gentle pitter patter of my feet... that's me running. This book however broke through my carefully constructed (and partly naturally acquired) barrier of cynicism, vitriol, bitterness and scoffing. I even stopped squishing kittens and stealing candy from small children in order to sit down and read it. I've given it five stars and I mean it sincerely. I don't know if it is the combination of female trials and tribulations, a reminder to treasure our mothers and to remember our past that made me love this, against my will, but something about this book broke the barrier and it has been on my shelf for a good ten years and it has been read at least three times since it arrived. The story, whilst loosely based on the biblical tale of Dinah and the formation of the tribe of Israel is liberally adapted to shape Diamant's requirements and woman's perspective (if not a feminist one). I'll overlook any potential biblical inaccuracies as I'm not exactly a staunch believer, what with archaeological excavations general disproving a tranche of the contents anyway. Apparently Dinah is mentioned only once in the bible. This bit of information features in a number of reviews and has now become a proto fact in its own right although admittedly I am too lazy to open my much under-thumbed copy of the good book and check to see if this in fact true. Dinah is the only daughter of Leah, a child of Jacob, suckled by her mother aunts, Zilpah, Bilhah and Rachel. The story of her brothers Judah, Reuben, Simon, Levi, Zebulun, Dan, Gad, Asher, Benjaman and Joseph - there may be others but I forget. Her life is one of quiet anonymity amongst her male counterparts until she visits the city of Shechem and becomes the wife of Shalem. A bloody feud ensues between the sons of Jacob and the men of Shechem and Dinah is robbed of happiness, status and eventually the son she carries as she flees to Egypt. The male characters are under developed, flattened out and distant; this is clearly something that a number of people picked up on, but isn't that how many of the contemporary female characters would have seen their menfolk during the Early Bronze Age in the Near East? Distant authority figures who visited their women's pallets for the procurement of pleasure and children and who visited the kitchens for sustenance. These people were not engaging in erudite conversation or political banter. Women were possessions, men possessors. Because of this it might be assumed that women would have created their own tight knit and highly dependent society. This is a book about women and probably will mainly appeal to women- I'm not saying men can't or won't read it but rare is the gentleman who wants long descriptions of menstruation or child birth, unless of course he is a gynaecologist. I think generally though this book made me think about my own relationships with other women. Do I take my mother for granted? How well do I know her story? What will my legacy be? And most importantly should I now wonder what my legacy as a woman will be or in the 21st century should I discount this and think only of my legacy and story as a person?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bobby

    This is an epic tale based on the Biblical character Dinah and her life. I found the story very moving, and much credit goes to the author, Anita Diamant. I think she is a great storyteller, a la Barbara Kingsolver and John Irving. Although I was familiar with Dinah and what happened to her from having read her story in the Bible, Ms. Diamant's story is much richer and complex. Though I should add that some religious people, especially those who believe Bible to be literally true, may be offende This is an epic tale based on the Biblical character Dinah and her life. I found the story very moving, and much credit goes to the author, Anita Diamant. I think she is a great storyteller, a la Barbara Kingsolver and John Irving. Although I was familiar with Dinah and what happened to her from having read her story in the Bible, Ms. Diamant's story is much richer and complex. Though I should add that some religious people, especially those who believe Bible to be literally true, may be offended and I can see them accusing Ms Diamant of distorting the "truth." Warning: the following reveals some details from the plot. I was surprised how much I was taken in by Dinah and felt emotionally connected to her, e,g., when she dislikes Rebecca, I did too; when she curses Jacob, I was cursing him with her; when she was moved to tears with grief or happiness, I was on the verge of tears myself. I think the credit goes to Ms. Diamant for developing her characters, especially, but not only, Dinah, in a manner that I totally found believable and it transported me from my world to that of Dinah. Even more surprising to me was that I found myself being envious of the close, nurturing relationship that the women share in the book, especially when they are in the red tent (birthing or menstruating). It's rather sad that men have nothing equivalent and what passes for "male bonding" is, in my opinion, quite pathetic and immature in comparison (beers and football? Gimme a break!). And may be it's even sadder that, as far as I know, now there is nothing remotely like that for women either. There is a strong theme of Goddess worshipping and celebration of the female power in the story. The contrast between Jacob's masculine god and Dinah and her mothers' gods/goddesses is quite stark and it left me wondering just how our modern world might have been different had the masculine Judeo-Christian God not supplanted the Goddess pantheism which had existed for thousands of years before. Bottom line: this a story that very much appealed to me on an emotional and intellectual level. Highly recommended!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joe Krakovsky

    I did not finish reading this book because on a personal level I found it too disgusting. It doesn't even deserve the 1 star rating, but being as the author seemed to have done a lot of research I will give her some credit for that. To use a phrase so much in vogue right now, I found it very offensive on various levels. To begin with, it seemed that the book centered around the menstrual period of women. Yes, I know it is a fact of life, but come on, do you have to be so uncouth? I lose a lot of I did not finish reading this book because on a personal level I found it too disgusting. It doesn't even deserve the 1 star rating, but being as the author seemed to have done a lot of research I will give her some credit for that. To use a phrase so much in vogue right now, I found it very offensive on various levels. To begin with, it seemed that the book centered around the menstrual period of women. Yes, I know it is a fact of life, but come on, do you have to be so uncouth? I lose a lot of respect for authors who feel that by writing about such basic human things that they are somehow being truthful and honest. Can I deal with life? Sure, but that isn't the point. When I was in Basic Training in the Army we still had the old wooden barracks with the row of toilets with no privacy between them. In high school we had swimming in PE were we swam nude. However I'm not going to write about the guy who digs in his nose and eats snot!    On another level of disgust was the treatment of the men. Boy, if I wrote about women like that I would have militants threatening to burn down my house. But I guess double standards are ok if you are politically correct. Probably the most offensive of all to me was the degrading portrayal of holy men of the Bible as being 'human' like you and me. Well, you know what? Not everybody is a pervert, just like not everybody is a murderer, or a thief. The story line was utter nonsense. Ignoring the atheist viewpoints for the moment, the holy men were different and that was what set them apart. If being a sinner like everybody else was ok, why were they chosen or singled out for blessings? Because they were cool? Attacking or poking fun at the ancient prophets of several of the world's religions is never a good thing, especially in this day and age.

  21. 5 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    For me, this is a book that is hard not to like. Last month, I and some friends here in Goodreads agreed to read the Bible for 12 months. Most of us are now on the seventh book, Judges and so far, my favorite is still Genesis. The reason is that there are just too many interesting events in it and so many unforgettable characters whose stories can be told and retold many times but we will not be tired hearing about them. One of these stories is that of Isaac and Sara who have two sons, Esau and J For me, this is a book that is hard not to like. Last month, I and some friends here in Goodreads agreed to read the Bible for 12 months. Most of us are now on the seventh book, Judges and so far, my favorite is still Genesis. The reason is that there are just too many interesting events in it and so many unforgettable characters whose stories can be told and retold many times but we will not be tired hearing about them. One of these stories is that of Isaac and Sara who have two sons, Esau and Jacob. Jacob steals the firstborn title from Esau with the help of Sara. Later Jacob meets Laban, the businessman. In Laban's place, there are 4 single women: Rachel, Leah, Zilpah and Bilhah. All of these become Jacob's wives giving him his 12 sons and only one daughter: Dinah. Her name is only mentioned ONCE in the Bible. Diamant took interest on her name and thought of all that could happen to her. She did not change anything in the backdrop story. She only extended and expanded what she thought could have been the untold story and she did it beautifully. It is an easy read. Something that you can do while in a busy Starbucks outlet listening to rich kids discussing their term papers and school projects. I finished the bulk of this book the other night while waiting for my daughter from her band practice. This could have earned more stars from me had Diamant been more descriptive in her narration. I also felt that she put too much emphasis on her female characters. All the male characters were delineated with secondary roles which are all flat and unfeeling. This made the rampaging and horrendous mass murder committed by Simon and Levi in the palace too unbelievable to get any sympathy from me for Dinah. I thought that the life-long curse and her going back to the palace is too melodramatic that I felt like watching an corny movie hoping to get an Oscar nomination for an overacting aspiring actress. Overall, I liked it. Not jumping up and down though.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Okay, so I knew before I read this book that it wasn't written for my demographic. I'm an adult male. This is a woman's book through and through. With that disclaimer in place, take what I'm about to say worth a grain of salt: I really didn't care for this book. The Red Tent is the "Fried Green Tomatoes," "Steel Magnolias," or "The Notebook" of the Old Testament set. It tracks the life of a quaternary character in Genesis, Dinah, from before her birth to after her death. Diamant takes massive, bu Okay, so I knew before I read this book that it wasn't written for my demographic. I'm an adult male. This is a woman's book through and through. With that disclaimer in place, take what I'm about to say worth a grain of salt: I really didn't care for this book. The Red Tent is the "Fried Green Tomatoes," "Steel Magnolias," or "The Notebook" of the Old Testament set. It tracks the life of a quaternary character in Genesis, Dinah, from before her birth to after her death. Diamant takes massive, but necessary, liberties with the story. There simply isn't enough in the initial account to tell a bedtime story, let alone a novel. She expands Dinah's life into an ensign for the lives, loves, and losses of women everywhere. (And if that sounds a little melodramatic, that's because the novel itself strikes that melodramatic tone). Diamant writes in a beautiful voice, and develops stirring and evocative passages describing both the internal and external environs of Dinah's life. She immerses the reader in a very foreign culture and world, and does so without pandering or over-explaining the culture--all the while refraining from the obtuseness or clumsy colloquialism that is often found in this type of novel. The major themes of the joy of menstruation and child birth, the origin of life in the shedding of blood, drench the pages of this novel (if you'll excuse the pun). As a man, I simply can't identify with this theme. But besides my ability to "sync my cycle," as it were, my biggest problem with this book lies in the story itself. Dinah's one or two verse mention in Genesis is so brief and so vague. Diamant's artistic license creates a story that is just not believable. Dinah is like Forrest Gump; she's there for every major event, she meets all the important people, and it just seems all a little too convenient. Additionally, Diamant disregards the biblical narrative of the events actually described to such an extent that the very nature of those events is nearly unrecognizable. Diamant also makes mistakes in this novel: first she alternates between an extremely awkward 2nd person voice and a 3rd person voice. Secondly, the book, despite being crammed with drama after drama and event after event, was poorly paced. Too much description of the unimportant things, not enough of the ones that affect the story. Overall, The Red Tent is not a book for me. I can't identify with the themes of the book, and the shortcomings in the writing are substantial enough that I'm unable to bridge that gap.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    I thought the first half of The Red Tent was very compelling. I liked the focus on the female relationships - a complex web of love, teamwork and jealousies - and enjoyed seeing the story behind the story we know. My favourite parts were near the beginning when we learn about Leah, Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah growing up and becoming Jacob's wives, and their subsequent forays into motherhood. Unlike some readers, I had no problem with the female-centric feel to the novel. In fact, it seems like a fu I thought the first half of The Red Tent was very compelling. I liked the focus on the female relationships - a complex web of love, teamwork and jealousies - and enjoyed seeing the story behind the story we know. My favourite parts were near the beginning when we learn about Leah, Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah growing up and becoming Jacob's wives, and their subsequent forays into motherhood. Unlike some readers, I had no problem with the female-centric feel to the novel. In fact, it seems like a funny and strange criticism when considering that this book sets out to offer a female perspective on a story that pretty much ignored women for centuries. I think The Red Tent might not work for you so much if you're reading as a fan of the biblical story and don't want to explore perspectives that change the way we view certain characters. As a nonreligious reader, though, I really enjoyed it. Well, that is, until Dinah moves to Egypt and things became... mostly uninteresting. The truth is that, for me, Dinah's character paled in comparison to all the different and interesting personalities I found in the four sisters. I really like first-person narratives that focus on other characters - everything from Wuthering Heights to Tiger Lily - because it offers an up-close account whilst also viewing a number of characters equally. So I liked this book more when Dinah's narrative was not about her, but about her mothers. The second half grew boring and tiring, and I honestly struggled to finish. It's a shame because I really loved the earlier chapters.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    I'll have to think about this...I may go back and add another star, depending on what stays with me. I think if I wasn't reading this book through a Latter-day Saint lens, I would have given it four stars, because the prose is absolutely gorgeous. This is the story of Dinah, the sister of Reuben, Gad, Asher, Levi, Joseph, Benjamin, etc., etc. You know, the twelve sons of Jacob. It is written by Anita Diamant, and does a wonderful job of giving motivation to all the things that happen from the ti I'll have to think about this...I may go back and add another star, depending on what stays with me. I think if I wasn't reading this book through a Latter-day Saint lens, I would have given it four stars, because the prose is absolutely gorgeous. This is the story of Dinah, the sister of Reuben, Gad, Asher, Levi, Joseph, Benjamin, etc., etc. You know, the twelve sons of Jacob. It is written by Anita Diamant, and does a wonderful job of giving motivation to all the things that happen from the time Jacob meets Rachel through where Simeon (she calls him Simon) and Levi kill Dinah's husband. She also does a beautiful, heart-tenderizing job of tying each of us as women to the concourse of womanhood from the beginning of time. My friend gave me this book for Christmas. As I read about the ties of womanhood, I realize what she was thinking of as she gave me this book, for she and I, and she and my mother, and I and her mother are all tied together by many of the red strings that Ms Diamant speaks of. The reason I had to put off reading it for five months is that I've been teaching a class in Old Testament, and since it's been about fifteen years since I've taught the class, or even studied the Old Testament, I've not had discretionary time to read. However, it was a wonderful segue into this book. The scenes in the King James Version are still fresh in my mind, and I was able to appreciate how she wove them in. However, her treatment of Joseph has left a bad taste in my mouth. Though she has the tale come from an enemy of Joseph's, the word is that he bedded Potipher's wife, rather than the story we get in Genesis. In that and in other things she paints him as an opportunist and hints that he is gay. But then, that is Dinah talking, and she never has forgiven her brothers. But, listen to one of her final paragraphs: Egypt loved the lotus because it never dies. It is the same for people who are loved. Thus can something as insignificant as a name--two syllables, one high, one sweet--summon up the innumerable smiles and tears, sighs and dreams of a human life. Ah, what the heck. I'll give it four stars. That's what will stay with me.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Manybooks

    Now perhaps I am being a bit hypocritical here, as I do in fact realise that I am more often than not rather majorly pedantic with regard to historical fiction depicting the truth (or perhaps more to the point, showing and presenting as much of the truth, as much of historic reality as possible). But come on, considering that Anita Diamant's The Red Tent is primarily based on the Old Testament, one could and likely even should (and with my apologies to those of you who actually do consider ALL o Now perhaps I am being a bit hypocritical here, as I do in fact realise that I am more often than not rather majorly pedantic with regard to historical fiction depicting the truth (or perhaps more to the point, showing and presenting as much of the truth, as much of historic reality as possible). But come on, considering that Anita Diamant's The Red Tent is primarily based on the Old Testament, one could and likely even should (and with my apologies to those of you who actually do consider ALL of the Bible as somehow being the absolute truth) point out that Ms. Diamant is with The Red Tent actually and also portraying a story that was even in its original Biblical manifestations rather fantastical and at best probably much more fiction than non-fiction, namely the story of Jacob, his sons and his one daughter Dinah (who is sadly hardly mentioned at all in the Old Testament stories concerning the former). And like my GR friend Chrissie, for me as a reading woman, imagining and thinking about a custom like the concept and culture of a red tent, a special women-only place and space for Jacob's wives, concubines and daughters to celebrate their womanhood, their menstruation as a festival of the earth and yes, even in the patriarchal monotheistic household of Jacob, as a celebration of goddess, of female power, that is at least for me personally, an uplifting and strengthening reading experience. Furthermore and definitely, I absolutely have also both loved and totally appreciated how Anita Diamant's The Red Tent so vehemently and realistically portrays Jacob but especially many of his twelve sons as not in any manner perfect and shining proverbial knights in gloriously shining armour, but as often inherently brutish, abusive and nasty, viciously murderous, manifesting character traits that while these might even have been occasionally hinted at in the Biblical stories of Jacob in the Old Testament, are also obviously rather majorly usually and in my opinion deliberately and willfully pushed back to the point that women and womanhood are frustratingly ignored in much of the Old Testament, a sign of the times perhaps, but still infuriating, and made even more so by the annoying fact that because the stories of Jacob and Jacob's sons just happen to appear in the Bible, many readers unfortunately also consider them as not only above and beyond criticism and rightful condemnation, but also that any and all reimaginings of said tales, such as The Red Tent are somehow at best problematic, if not sinful and an affront to God. But really and frankly, from where I stand, much of especially the Old Testament actually and often deliberately celebrates and even at times naivily seems to justify murder, mayhem and even genocide as being both acceptable and somehow God-ordained if it is perpetrated against those whom the Israelites consider as enemies (and sorry, if that is not at best naive if not disgustingly sinful, I do not know what is). And also, I furthermore do think that we are pretty darn fortunate to (still) live in a free generally secular country where reimagined Biblical tales such as The Red Tent are both accepted and permitted, because in a so-called theocracy, like for example, Saudi Arabia, Anita Diamant could have and likely would have been more than simply criticised for The Red Tent. And therefore let us hope and yes let us pray that this kind of religious and philosophical, democratic personal freedom remains and that so-called sacred texts will not suddenly be deemed as officially inappropriate for fiction purposes or for criticism. For I do not think I am being all that needlessly alarmist here, as there have sadly been increasingly strident calls in especially the United States and Canada from the religiously ignorant and fanatic lunatic fringe, from the Taliban like and at its most fundamentalist very dangerous Religious Right to ban, censor, to not even permit the untouchable and supposedly "God-given" words of the Bible to be used for literature, for any kind of rewritten, retold pieces of work. Four stars (and no, not yet five stars, as I have not in fact enjoyed the second part of The Red Tent quite as much as the first part, in other words, that Dinah's experiences in Egypt, while interesting and engaging, are not really as close to my heart and soul as the first part of the novel, as Anita Diamant's brilliant and oh so entrancing descriptions of Dinah's childhood experiences, although I am still going to be gladly placing The Red Tent on my favourites shelf).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Peggy

    Okay, I really struggled through this book. I loved reading from the perspective of a woman in the Old Testament. That part was great. I have been told many-a-time that I am an individual who CHOOSES to be naive and for that reason, I didn't like the way the author portrayed some of the characters--some of my heroes--from the OT. There were just some disturbing things in there--like Jacob masturbating--(there is worse than that in the book, believe me) that I thought were AWFUL. In the end, Jose Okay, I really struggled through this book. I loved reading from the perspective of a woman in the Old Testament. That part was great. I have been told many-a-time that I am an individual who CHOOSES to be naive and for that reason, I didn't like the way the author portrayed some of the characters--some of my heroes--from the OT. There were just some disturbing things in there--like Jacob masturbating--(there is worse than that in the book, believe me) that I thought were AWFUL. In the end, Joseph is portrayed as a selfish, illiterate tyrant who hated his younger brother Benjamin and who willingly slept with Potipher's wife. Terrible! So for the most part, I just didn't like it. I did manage to read the whole thing, and enjoyed reading about Dinah making the most of her life and incorporating things she learned from her mothers. I loved getting to know Zilpah and Bilhah better..but that's where it ended. If you are at all familiar with the OT, don't read this book!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    The first time I read this book years ago my frustration stemmed from primarily the depiction of the various characters. And I mean ALOT of characters. However, this time I decided to read it slowly so that I could focus and absorb the characters and the story. I loved the celebration of a strong female character and heroine. I loved Dinah's quiet strength, her confidence and her self-awareness. Anita Diamant was able to sweep me up and carry me away to another time and place. A place where there is The first time I read this book years ago my frustration stemmed from primarily the depiction of the various characters. And I mean ALOT of characters. However, this time I decided to read it slowly so that I could focus and absorb the characters and the story. I loved the celebration of a strong female character and heroine. I loved Dinah's quiet strength, her confidence and her self-awareness. Anita Diamant was able to sweep me up and carry me away to another time and place. A place where there is a "Red Tent" that I wish was here.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Books Ring Mah Bell

    My apologies to Anita Diamant. This book is good, in the sense that she takes an interesting concept (a bit of the bible) and expounds upon it. And, in all fairness, she wrote well. Alas, this was just NOT my cup of tea. No sir. Here I'd like to throw in a disclaimer that I am not one who finds the Bible holy. If I were and then I read this book, I'm thinking I may have been offended. So, be warned if you think you are getting biblical fiction that is... unoffensive? All I can say about this is t My apologies to Anita Diamant. This book is good, in the sense that she takes an interesting concept (a bit of the bible) and expounds upon it. And, in all fairness, she wrote well. Alas, this was just NOT my cup of tea. No sir. Here I'd like to throw in a disclaimer that I am not one who finds the Bible holy. If I were and then I read this book, I'm thinking I may have been offended. So, be warned if you think you are getting biblical fiction that is... unoffensive? All I can say about this is there's a whole lot of sheep humping and Jacob jerking off early on in the book. Then again, there's bestiality in the bible... so, whatever. Be warned. Why didn't this book float my boat? For the same reasons it made me VERY VERY thankful I live in modern times. 1. The red tent - refers to a place the woman all go when ill, giving birth or menstruating. Dear GOD. I can think of nothing worse than having to spends DAYS in a tent with a bunch of ill, birthing and/or hormonal women. (Yes, I went there. That's one of my problems with women - those hormone surges can be MAD unpleasant.) 2. Birth - Thank heavens for medical care! Now, I have nothing at all against midwives, in fact, I think women who labor and give birth at home (as long as they are healthy enough to do so) are kick ass. Honestly, all the birth without epidurals and such... women are tough. That being said, I would have perished along with my son in the red tent. So, thank you medicine for epidurals, c-sections that a mom can survive, and for great neonatal care. Woot. 3. Call me old fashioned, a prude, whatever, but I dig this thing called monogamy. I enjoy not having to share my husband. I can't even fathom "sharing" him with my sisters (of course, I have no sisters, but still!!! NO FREAKING WAY!) 4. I also dig that I don't have to have "relations"* with family. I have no brothers, either, and while my cousins are all very nice people, I don't want to "know"* them like that. EVER. 5.uh. *"relations" and "know" tweak me when describing sex. as does calling a penis or vagina his or her sex. I don't know why, but it does. They were used appropriately in this book, because some of the alternatives just wouldn't fit and honestly, are not much better.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Miryam-Chavah

    i can't remember the last time a book made me cry. (Midrash, gotta love it) ;-) the only people i have ever met, who actually believed Dinah was "raped" (as recorded in the Bible) have been men... granted, that might say something about the circles i tend to move in (hasidic) and our propensity for personal interpretation of the scriptures (to an embarrassing degree, at times) but any woman, rebbetzin/wife/mother/sister/otherwise, which i have discussed this story with (speaking of the scripture) i can't remember the last time a book made me cry. (Midrash, gotta love it) ;-) the only people i have ever met, who actually believed Dinah was "raped" (as recorded in the Bible) have been men... granted, that might say something about the circles i tend to move in (hasidic) and our propensity for personal interpretation of the scriptures (to an embarrassing degree, at times) but any woman, rebbetzin/wife/mother/sister/otherwise, which i have discussed this story with (speaking of the scripture) mirrored my smirk right back at me, and said the same as i did "i bet she fell in love.. i bet she wasn't raped at all".... the conversation quickly turning to "women as possessions of men", "unmarried women's bodies belonging to fathers", and of course: sex with a virgin, equals rape..... men being the ones who were working as scribes through the years, and "Word of G-d" or not, it wasn't HaShem who was dotting every yod and crossing every dalet for the past 2 thousand years, so who even knows what really *did* happen to Dinah, seeing as *all* of her story (except the small, horrible, little blurb) had been left out of sight for so long.... and what she might actually say for herself today, if she were here to ask... well, read the book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Calista

    This is one of my favorite books. I love the community of women in this book. In this society, women came together in the red tent during their periods. The older woman helped to care for the younger woman and support them. The husbands had to care for the house and children while a woman was in the red tent and the woman focused on their dreams and each other. This is set during the time of the bible and if my memory serves, this woman is the sister to Joseph, who ends up in Egypt. I like the su This is one of my favorite books. I love the community of women in this book. In this society, women came together in the red tent during their periods. The older woman helped to care for the younger woman and support them. The husbands had to care for the house and children while a woman was in the red tent and the woman focused on their dreams and each other. This is set during the time of the bible and if my memory serves, this woman is the sister to Joseph, who ends up in Egypt. I like the support that women had in this story and I dream of somehow setting up something like this in modern times for women to recharge their batteries somehow in our fast paced world. The realities of childbirth are also shown in this story. It's a wonderful book. I don't know what men think of the book, but I know many women how have loved this story and characters. I wanted to write up a review for it and now I have. It has to be in my top 20 books.

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