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The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

The Red Tent

by Anita Diamant

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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12,236274207 (4.06)318
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» See also 318 mentions

English (271)  Danish (1)  All languages (272)
Showing 1-5 of 271 (next | show all)
This book is very loosely based on the Biblical story of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob (Israel) and one of his wives Leah. It is written almost entirely from the perspective of Dinah and her mother and aunties. However, I found it very difficult to recognise the actions and attitudes of the main characters from how they are portrayed in the Old Testament. In some cases it contradicts the Old Testament e.g. Sarah did not arrange the marriage of her son Isaac "according to the custom" - she was dead when the marriage was arranged. And Rachel did not reveal to her father Laban that she had bleed all over the idols; she kept them hidden.
However, it is very sad story from whatever perspective one takes it. ( )
  robeik | Jun 25, 2014 |
I liked this book and did not expect to. Who knew women had it so tough? Sad and sweet, but it is about a woman who survived. It could have happened, I think... ( )
  Dmtcer | Jun 3, 2014 |
I liked this book and did not expect to. Who knew women had it so tough? Sad and sweet, but it is about a woman who survived. It could have happened, I think... ( )
  Dmtcer | Jun 3, 2014 |
i like the retelling of stories, the adding of voices we don't get to hear in the original, the reframing of text and perspective. it took me a little while to get into this, though, because i was resistant to it being a bible story she was retelling and recasting. there are a lot of references to biblical stories and people here, many more than i'm sure i picked up on. i suspect knowing those stories and those people add to a favorable reading of this book.

i liked this. it's well written (although a little...overblown maybe) and engaging. i think my only real issue with it (other than personally not wanting to read about people in the bible) is: the story she is retelling is that of dinah, the daughter of jacob. in genesis there is a brief story where dinah is raped and her brothers avenge her by murdering a city of men. this story imagines that dinah wasn't raped at all, that she and the man were in love and got married and the brothers' act of violence wasn't for her at all but to retain their own power. my problem is this: there are enough stories of women being raped and their stories being twisted into some kind of consent or somehow being not believable. we get enough of that. to take a story that explicitly says she was raped and to make it a story about lovers just reinforces that. i know that diamant was drawn to this particular story for a reason, but i would have preferred if she had taken any number of stories that lack the woman's perspective and drawn the opposite conclusion. like the story of bathsheba and david and how that easily could have been rape.

but i guess that's not really a big complaint in the end. i remember really liking this book quite a bit the first time i read it and while it didn't wow me this time around, i did like it. and it has so many interesting things about how people used to live and what life used to be like - while how we've gained so much, what we've lost as well (most notably women's community). ( )
  elisa.saphier | May 17, 2014 |
I had no intention of reading this book; but, it had been suggested to me for years. One of the blurbs on the back cover of the book says, " "The Red Tent" is a fine novel." And it is. I enjoyed the read. It covers the life of Dinah who appears in the Book of Genesis. I thought it gave a good take on what life may have been for the average woman in early biblical time. ( )
  kp9949 | Apr 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 271 (next | show all)
Diamant, an award winning journalist, vividly conjures up the ancient world of caravans, shepherds, farmers, midwives, slaves, and artisans in a novel that takes us from Mesopotamia and Canaan down into Egypt... It's revisionist feminist history, to be sure, but inventiveness befits a work of fiction. Diamant's Dinah is a compelling narrator of a tale that has timeless resonance.
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 (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anita Diamantprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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.
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:30 -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 4 descriptions

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