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The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

The Red Tent (edition 1998)

by Anita Diamant

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12,520280192 (4.06)343
Title:The Red Tent
Authors:Anita Diamant
Info:Picador (1998), Paperback, 321 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

  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. 30
    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
    Mary, Called Magdalene by Margaret George (meggyweg)
  6. 00
    The Cave Dreamers by Jeanne Williams (juniperSun)
    juniperSun: both have women passing on their spirituality/goddess knowledge secretly
  7. 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)
  8. 00
    The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani (elbakerone)
    elbakerone: Another beautifully written historical fiction with a focus around mother daughter relationships.
  9. 11
    I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots by Susan Straight (shesinplainview)
  10. 00
    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.
  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
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  13. 02
    Not the End of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean (SandSing7)

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» See also 343 mentions

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3.5 stars

This tells the story of a minor character in the Bible, Dinah. Dinah is born to Leah and Jacob and is raised by four “mothers”, all Jacob's wives who also happen to be sisters. Dinah is the only girl amongst many brothers, so is treated extra-special by her mothers/aunts. The first part actually tells more of her mothers' lives, then it switches to Dinah's life as she grows and becomes a newly married adult, when something happens to change her life forever.

As much as I like historical fiction focusing on women, all the menstrual blood/flow and child birthing in the first part was a bit much for me. I realize that Dinah became a midwife later, and that's one thing, but this was more that I really didn't need to read about! The story itself (once it got going), I could have rated 4 stars, but I couldn't bring myself to rate it that high. Too much for me, though the story itself was fine. ( )
  LibraryCin | Feb 20, 2015 |
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant is a loose adaptation of the story of Dinah from Genesis, and the early part of this book with it’s lists of who begat who reminded me very much of the Bible. This is very much a book with a woman’s point of view, and the women characters are fully developed, deep and complete. Unfortunately the men suffer somewhat in this book, being much more simply drawn, and most end up seeming rather flat and negative. But as this is a book that is comprised of mostly woman’s stories, woman’s traditions and woman’s history, the stereotypically portrayed men makes sense.

The red tent of the title is a place of seclusion where the women retire for the days of their periods. Men stayed clear of this side of women’s business, and in reality, the red tent is a place of harmony and refuge for the females to relax, refresh and reenergize themselves for the upcoming month. The story is set in the time of the dawning of Christianity and so the stories are a mix of many gods, but with a smattering of Christian beliefs as well.

The Red Tent is a rich story of and about women, Dinah’s tale tells of a time period that not much is known of, but the author, with great passion and intensity creates a timeless story of biblical proportions that was interesting and engrossing. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Feb 5, 2015 |
I am not what you would call a fan of "women's fiction," but this may be the most excellent rendering of the genre. Think of great generational epics, Roots and The Thorn Birds come to mind. Now go to the Old Testament and mix well. I spent a fair part of today crying as the tale drew to a close. I will nominate it for my Book Club. ( )
  MaureenCean | Jan 1, 2015 |
I wanted to read this one because a few girls in my bible study said that it was a good story and it went along with what we were talking about at the time, the old testament.

It was neat to get this glimpse into the women of the bible that are only mentioned in passing. We hear so much about Abraham, and then a good bit about Jacob. But this makes it come alive, and the details are rich. I don't know how much is historically accurate, but it is so different from modern day, that I imagine she did a lot of research. It is told from the perspective of Dinah, daughter of Leah, but it shows the dynamics of them being sister wives-- and Dinah having essentially four mothers.

In this day and age, I can't imagine sharing my husband, but in the first part that focuses on Leah and her sister Rachel and who ends up being the concubines Zilbah and Bilhah. At first there is a lot of jealousy and bitterness, but when children begin to enter the picture, it changes so much, and their bond changes. Even though Rachel was barren for so long, it shows her strength and emotional journey.

Parts of this story are so emotional. Even though women had different responsibilities, priorities, and stations in life, there are event that we still deal with today. The emotional impact is stunning and again, are things that are relatable today- loss of pregnancy, jealousy, lies, falling in love, differences of opinions or religions.

I went out of this one feeling really satisfied. I couldn't find much about any actual biblical history of Dinah after her mention in genesis 34, but it really brought her to life for me. The ending was fitting for the story.

Bottom Line: Great historical fiction bringing a biblical woman to life. ( )
  brandileigh2003 | Dec 23, 2014 |
Beautiful novel. Take it for what it is, Fiction. People get too caught up in the fact that these are biblical characters and lose sight of the beautiful story and the history it is based on. Just take it as any other historical fictional novel and it is a good book. I only gave it three stars because although I enjoyed it it didn't leave me feeling like I needed everyone I know to read it as well... ( )
  KRaySaulis | Aug 13, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 277 (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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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