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The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

The Red Tent

by Anita Diamant

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
14,426353247 (4.04)394
  1. 100
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (wosret, Kaelkivial)
    Kaelkivial: Both stories of strong women who resist (in one form or another) the system that holds them down. Both books fairly fast paced and gripping; acts of violence and loss scattered throughout.
  2. 41
    Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund (sweetbug)
    sweetbug: Both books take minor female characters from great works and create a larger story for them. The two books also deal with similar themes including women who challenge gender rolls and the relationships between mothers (or surrogate mothers) and daughters.
  3. 20
    Zipporah, Wife of Moses by Marek Halter (joririchardson)
  4. 20
    The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus by Margaret Atwood (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: The two novels convey the same idea of reclaiming the story of a marginal woman from a great male narrative, telling the story from a new, feminine perspective.
  5. 10
    The Garden of Ruth by Eva Etzioni-Halevy (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: The Red Tent and The Garden of Ruth provide female-centered interpretations of Biblical stories. These books are full of political and familial drama, centered in the early ages of Judaism.
  6. 00
    The Cave Dreamers by Jeanne Williams (juniperSun)
    juniperSun: both have women passing on their spirituality/goddess knowledge secretly
  7. 11
    Mary, Called Magdalene by Margaret George (meggyweg)
  8. 00
    Miss Garnet's Angel by Salley Vickers (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both are novels featuring Old Testament stories.
  9. 00
    The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani (elbakerone)
    elbakerone: Another beautifully written historical fiction with a focus around mother daughter relationships.
  10. 00
    Wisdom's Daughter: A Novel of Solomon and Sheba by India Edghill (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Wisdom's Daughter and The Red Tent bring the Bible to life for modern readers through their historically detailed and emotional retelling of two stories of love and family honor. Additionally, both are viewed and interpreted through a women's perspective.… (more)
  11. 01
    In the Shadow of the Ark by Anne Provoost (joririchardson)
    joririchardson: Both books have a similar atmosphere and setting, and both are based on biblical events.
  12. 02
    The Gilded Chamber by Rebecca Kohn (themephi)
  13. 02
    Not the End of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean (SandSing7)

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» See also 394 mentions

English (348)  Danish (1)  All languages (349)
Showing 1-5 of 348 (next | show all)
A brief mention in the Bible is all Dinah has been given, but Anita Diamant brings Dinah to life, exploring the world she lived in, and the journey she may have travelled. Dinah is the only surviving daughter of Jacob and Leah and she writes her own story in this fascinating novel. The Red Tent dives deep into the world of the Biblical era. Diamant uses vivid imagery and micro descriptions which enables the reader to walk alongside the characters, and giving us full access through Dinah’s narrative response.
Dinah tells her story in first person. Born in an unforgiving world, she is raised by her mother and Aunts. She grows up watching the birth and death of babies inside the Red Tent, observing the finest details, and learning from her Aunt Rachel who was a midwife. The exploration of past relationships transports the group to another location where they adapt to a new way of life. Dinah falls in love but without the approval of her father. The disapproval from her father and brothers leads to the slaughter of her husband, and father of the child within her womb. Travelling to Egypt to begin a new life she puts her upbringing to good use, becoming a midwife for the masses, and eventually becoming famous for her trade. Life in Egypt moves quickly and soon her son has left the home and she finds love in her heart, eventually marrying Shalem. The circle of life continues when she gets word her father is sick and travels back to see him, without disclosing who she is. A distant family member shares the life she missed and tells the story of Dinah. Knowing she is not forgotten in the story of Jacob she continues with life in peace after her father’s death.
The Rent Tent highlights that women’s stories are an important part of the Biblical era and invites us to walk beside them through their journey. Dinah invites us to remember the women’s stories and in doing so invites us into The Red Tent. The Red Tent was a place where women would reside through menstruation and childbirth. Gaining access to this private space enables the reader to understand the life and role of women in this era. The reader is looking at this world through the innocent eyes of Dinah, a continually developing female. Diamant gives voices to the women of this era, which is significant because women of this time didn’t have a voice- the males did. Diamant not only gives the women voices but gives them voices grounded in significant research on women in this Biblical time.
Female relationships are explored throughout the novel. The strong relationships the women have with Goddesses relate back to the natural world, highlighting that females roles are connected with nature and the circle of live. From the first menstruation being absorbed back into the ground to the birth and death of babies, we see the circle of life continue to be explored through the eyes of a woman. Exploring this through the eyes of a female in this era is refreshingly beautiful. Men saw menstruation as dirty and makes a woman unclean, whereas the females see it as a flowing of beautiful life coming and going.
Well rounded characters, realistic setting, and appropriate costumes create a believable Biblical world. The tempo of the novel is somewhat biblical in nature, continuing short anecdotal scenes with a plot. The plot itself doesn’t follow a traditional patters of exposition, rising tension, climax, and falling action. Instead we see action rushed into development; from the slaughter of men in Canaan to the passage of time in Egypt- it all seems to be rushed into production. The anticipation for action to happen is quickly unraveled leaving the reader disappointed with a rapid anti-climax. On the other hand, this could be seen as Dinah trying to suppress the negative events in her life, highlighting that Dinah has strong detail on the important things in her life, those that have emotional ties. ( )
  kerry87 | Mar 13, 2019 |
Why I stopped reading: The prologue intrigued me. The author's voice is compelling. But the characters are problematic. Everyone is one-track and that track is sex. For the women, it's about the mystical power of childbirth. For the men, it's about lust. The author didn't bother with any layers of humanity beyond this one. There's also a forced permeation of paganism and little inclusion (that I read; granted I did not finish) of the God of Israel, which doesn't make sense if one considers the book of Genesis to be even slightly historically accurate in its depiction of Jewish faith. I was hoping to get an alternate, fictionalized perspective on the Old Testament. This is an alternate reality.

The best way to write strong, true women is to show them holding their own alongside strong, true men. To show a give-and-take between them of supporting and leaning, strengths and flaws. This book instead paints all the men as weak, fearful, faithless, lust-driven ... on the whole, pathetic. A disservice to both the female and male characters, and not worth it for me.
  AmandaGStevens | Mar 2, 2019 |
I'm having a hard time finishing this book ( )
  StarKnits | Feb 6, 2019 |
after accepting the fact that the author took a relatively short story out of the biblical world and gave her imagination a free hand, realize that it is merely a book in the style of fiction about an earlier period, and enjoyment of the book becomes a straightforward task.

The beautiful descriptions of the writer awakened my imagination and poured human life into historical figures as I connected with the characters I read about in Bible and suddenly they came to life.
The plot is sweeping and fascinating. ( )
  Bertchuba | Jan 10, 2019 |
I'm on the bandwagon with this book, although I've come to it late. I love books that give me another view of a familiar story; I can never think of the story in quite the same way again. At its best, writ large, that's what literature is all about. This isn't great literature, I suppose, but it is imaginative, enjoyable, and deeply satisfying. ( )
  CatherineBurkeHines | Nov 28, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 348 (next | show all)
The Red Tent instantly drew me in from its very first paragraph. The narrative voice, that of Dinah, reminded me a lot of that of Margaret Atwood’s wonderful Penelopiad which I read last year. It was strong but slightly melancholy and conveyed the same idea of reclaiming the story of a marginal woman from a great male narrative, telling the story from a new, feminine perspective and revealing what ‘really’ happened.

The red tent of the title is the separate tent set aside for the women where they go while menstruating to keep apart from the men. The Red Tent then is a very appropriate title as the book focused almost exclusively on feminine concerns: becoming a woman, giving birth and finding a husband. I appreciated this insight into their secret world and I liked the idea of telling a masculine story to recentre it around the women.

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anita Diamantprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bilger, CarolNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Emilia, my daughter
First words
We have been lost to each other for so long.
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 the details of her mother’s life—without flinching or whining—the stronger the daughter.
The men clustered around the baby and placed the tools of the scribe into his little hands. His fingers curled around new reed brushes, and he grasped a circular dish upon which his inks were mixed. He waved a scrap of papyrus in both hands like a fan.
Re-nefer scoured the markets for ... a perfect box in which to put his brushes. She commissioned a sculptor to carve a slate for mixing ink.
He was captivated by the sights of the journey ... he directed my eyes at the sails in the wind, at the harmony of the rowers' oars ... a stand of papyrus that looked like a field of copper in the setting sun.
Maybe you guessed that there was more to me than the voiceless cipher in the text. Maybe you heard it in the music of my name: the first vowel high and clear, as when a mother calls to her child at dusk; the second sound soft, for whispering secrets on pillows. Dee-nah.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
The Red Tent tells the little know Biblical story of Dinah, daughter of the patriarch Jacob and his wife, Leah. In Chapter 34 of the Book of Genesis, Dinah's tale is a short, horrific detour in the familiar narrative of Jacob and Joseph. Anita Diamant imaginatively tells the story from the fresh perspective of its women. In the Biblical tale, Dinah is given no voice; she is the narrator of The Red Tent, which reveals the life of ancient womanhood---the world of the red tent. Readers of The Red Tent will view the Book of Denesis in a new light.
Haiku summary
Lacking a legacy
Joseph's sister Shechem's wife
Was a Wise woman


Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312427298, Paperback)

The red tent is the place where women gathered during their cycles of birthing, menses, and even illness. Like the conversations and mysteries held within this feminine tent, this sweeping piece of fiction offers an insider's look at the daily life of a biblical sorority of mothers and wives and their one and only daughter, Dinah. Told in the voice of Jacob's daughter Dinah (who only received a glimpse of recognition in the Book of Genesis), we are privy to the fascinating feminine characters who bled within the red tent. In a confiding and poetic voice, Dinah whispers stories of her four mothers, Rachel, Leah, Zilpah, and Bilhah--all wives to Jacob, and each one embodying unique feminine traits. As she reveals these sensual and emotionally charged stories we learn of birthing miracles, slaves, artisans, household gods, and sisterhood secrets. Eventually Dinah delves into her own saga of betrayals, grief, and a call to midwifery.

"Like any sisters who live together and share a husband, my mother and aunties spun a sticky web of loyalties and grudges," Anita Diamant writes in the voice of Dinah. "They traded secrets like bracelets, and these were handed down to me the only surviving girl. They told me things I was too young to hear. They held my face between their hands and made me swear to remember." Remembering women's earthy stories and passionate history is indeed the theme of this magnificent book. In fact, it's been said that The Red Tent is what the Bible might have been had it been written by God's daughters, instead of her sons. --Gail Hudson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:58 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Based on the Book of Genesis, Dinah, Jacob's only daughter, shares her perspectives on the origins of many of our modern religious practices and sexual politics, imparting the lessons she has learned from her father's wives.

» see all 9 descriptions

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