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The Red Tent

by Anita Diamant

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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16,840390297 (4.03)409
The story of Dinah, a tragic character from the Bible whose great love, a prince, is killed by her brother, leaving her alone and pregnant. The novel traces her life from childhood to death, in the process examining sexual and religious practices of the day, and what it meant to be a woman.
  1. 130
    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 (jordantaylor)
  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. 10
    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)
  7. 10
    Miss Garnet's Angel by Salley Vickers (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both are novels featuring Old Testament stories.
  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
    Mary, Called Magdalene by Margaret George (meggyweg)
  10. 00
    The Cave Dreamers by Jeanne Williams (juniperSun)
    juniperSun: both have women passing on their spirituality/goddess knowledge secretly
  11. 01
    In the Shadow of the Ark by Anne Provoost (jordantaylor)
    jordantaylor: Both books have a similar atmosphere and setting, and both are based on biblical events.
  12. 02
    Not the End of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean (SandSing7)
  13. 02
    The Gilded Chamber by Rebecca Kohn (themephi)

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» See also 409 mentions

English (385)  Danish (1)  All languages (386)
Showing 1-5 of 385 (next | show all)
I just LOVED this book. The beauty of sisterhood, womanhood and motherhood were so clearly displayed. Taken from the bible the story follows Dinah the youngest of Jacob's children with Leah and his only daughter. It was a powerful and emotional read. ( )
  MsTera | Oct 10, 2023 |
An amazing novel based on Jacob's only daughter, Dinah, referenced in Genesis 34...I'm blown away how the author brought real life to the characters. This is very well written and great storytelling!

I've always seen the characters in the Bible as almost perfect unblemished human beings...patient, kind, loving and always knowing and doing just what the Lord wanted them to do. But, in reality, the bit of harshness and imperfections in the character's that are well known characters of the Bible is probably more truth than not. After all, they are human beings, just like you and me.

Speaking in the first person, as Dinah, herself, the author introduces so many characters into the story in such an easy fluid manner. I never once got lost and by the end of the very first chapter, I really felt like I knew the personalities of all four of Jacob's wives, who were, by the way, also his 1st cousins.

Will soon watch the movie, "The Red Tent" to see how it compares to the book and will return to edit my review.

UPDATE: The movie is very lacking! If I hadn't read the book first, I'm not so sure I would have understood everything in the movie. ( )
  MissysBookshelf | Aug 27, 2023 |
This story about one of Jacob’s daughter Dinah is plotless mess.
The writing is quite unclear. We are introduced to Zilpah the least important wife of Jacob. Zilpah was only a few months younger than Leah, and after Zilpah’s mother died, Adah gave them suck together. Are we supposed to assume this refers to breast feeding? Or lines like she was good the way milk is good; the way rain is good. What does that even mean? The dialogue flips from biblical lite to current language. “You think the world owes you anything? Don’t get too proud with me, you afterbirth, or I’ll send you back to your brother’s long knife.”
Can we survive observations like “But on that day I was a girl ready for a man.”?
The historical fiction sequences do ring true. In order to finalize Dinah’s marriage to Shalem, Shalem’s father King Hamor puts his hand under Jacob’s thigh and Jacob reciprocated by putting his hand on the King’s thigh. This was a custom of acknowledging circumcision—nothing sexual. When Jacob realizes both Shalem and Hamor are not circumcised, he insists before the marriage can be consummated.
Despite this beloved novel’s reputation and twentieth year reprint, this was a miss for me.

( )
  GordonPrescottWiener | Aug 24, 2023 |
This really is a perfect example of HER-story vs history.
I was very familiar about the biblical story of Jacob/Leah/Rachel/Zilpah/Bilhah and their sons, but not about the daughter of the family, Dinah. And man, what a doozy of a story, especially comparing how Dinah story is prefaced in biblical text as opposed to how the pivotal story of Dinah's life is fictionalized/interpreted/couched here.

I loved how the family life in Jacob's encampment is detailed from Dinah's perspective (rituals, stories, rivalries) as well as how the tale of Dinah's life after leaving her family unfolds. ( )
  deslivres5 | Jun 19, 2023 |
Halfway through this book I realised something - I had read it before. Everything came rushing back and I could not believe that I did not recall reading it previously.

I enjoy the story more when I don't think of it as being based on The Bible versions of these characters - I prefer to hold them distinct, seperate.

The main character, Dinah, is a wonderful voice for this story to be told through. Her story is woven with heavy emotions and experiences, both wonderful and nightmarish.

Favourite line: Rachel's prescence was as powerful as the moon, and just as beautiful.
( )
1 vote spiritedstardust | Dec 29, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 385 (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 (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anita Diamantprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bilger, CarolNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cella, SusanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Haapio, MarjaTranslatorsecondary 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)

The story of Dinah, a tragic character from the Bible whose great love, a prince, is killed by her brother, leaving her alone and pregnant. The novel traces her life from childhood to death, in the process examining sexual and religious practices of the day, and what it meant to be a woman.

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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


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