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Date Posted: 16:22:22 02/17/06 Fri
Author: Syl
Subject: The Red Tent

Here’s one sent in by Marg B. Thanks, lass! This sounds like a fascinating book and I know for a fact it is the inspiration for a quilt for the future by a certain hoser!


TITLE: The Red Tent

AUTHOR: Anita Diamont

GENRE: Historical Fiction



Normally when I think of historical fiction as a genre, for me it is generally going to be about royalty of the years after about 1000AD and usually British, but not exclusively. However, I recently read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, set in ancient times in Mesopotamia, Canaan and Egypt, and am really glad that I expanded my range of times to accommodate this book.

The Red Tent is the story of Jacob's daughter Dinah. She is mentioned in Genesis in the Bible and in Chapter 34 we are told the story of what happened to her. What Anita Diamant has done is filled in the outlines as provided in the Old Testament, telling stories of what it was like growing up as the only daughter of Jacob (who came to be regarded as one of the major characters of the Old Testament – no less than the father of Israel), of her life with her mothers, what it was like to practice as a midwife in those times.

Jacob had four wives, two of whom were named as sisters in the Old Testament, and the other two being their servants. Diamant names them all as having the same father, but only two of them (the beautiful Rachel and her older sister Leah) were acknowledged by him. What this means for the Dinah we come to know is that all four women are both her mothers and her aunts.

During Dinah’s childhood we come to know the four women, each of whom have different skills and hold different places in Jacob’s heart. We hear the stories of the Red Tent, where the women withdraw each month at the new moon for rest and fellowship, we hear the stories of the births of children, and of some deaths in childbirth of both mother and children. Most of all we are treated to what it may have been like to live in fellowship as a woman with other women in Old Testament times.

Eventually, as Dinah grows she begins to follow one of her aunts and begins to train as a midwife. This brings her to the city of Shechem where Dinah’s life changes completely. In the Bible, once we hear of the events as they occurred at Shechem we hear no more of her, and here Diamant takes Dinah on a journey that leads Dinah to eventually live in Egypt.

The story as written by Diamant is touching, and surprising, and gives plenty of thought provoking suggestions of how life may have lived in ancient times. The use of the household gods throughout the story surprised me a lot, but I can see how Diamant builds on what we have been told in the Bible and taken her story to this point from those references. I was so interested in this story I did find myself referring back to the Old Testament to try and work out which parts of the story were directly from there, and which parts were enhancements.

I loved this book and would rate it as 5 out of 5. I was sorry when it ended, but I am sure there will come a time in the not too distant future where I will find myself revisiting the life and times of the only daughter of Jacob.

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Replies:

[> This is one of my favorite books. I read it at just the right time in my life. It led me exactly to what you mentioned...reading more about Jacob and life in OT times. When you do research it more you will see that goddess worship was part and parcel of life then. Judaism is basically an earth-based religion. Very fascinating stuff. The Red Tent itself is very similar to the Moon Lodge of the Native Americans. Diamant creates wonderfully drawn characters who reach your heart. An important read! -- WhiteFox, 18:11:30 02/17/06 Fri

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[> This book was great. I listened to it on CD and it was so beautifully narrated that it was like poetry. I found it so moving and couldn't wait to get into my car to hear more. Although it is a bit contraversial in Christian and probably Jewish circles because of the license taken by the author to mess with a biblical story. I just saw it as a fictional work based on real life, which it is, and thought it was beautiful. -- Reilly, 20:11:20 02/17/06 Fri

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[> [> I also listened to it and thought the narrator was amazing. I think she really added something to the experience -- Marg B, 02:48:06 02/18/06 Sat

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[> Great review, Marg. I read this book last summer in preparation for my course this term (Women in Holy Writ) and enjoyed it. Then I downloaded it to my pocket pc and listened to it over the past month. I love the narrator, she really adds to the story-it was a brilliant way of 'reading' the story again. I found it easier to concentrate on the questions I had to answer while listening to it. I am now doing my creative project around the story-I'm making a wall-hanging (quilted) depicting Dinah and other women in the red tent. Not sure why there was a controversy-it is a novel-not something the author said was true. I also have to thank the Hoser who sent me the book-thanks. Hosers are the best. -- Keira, 06:24:59 02/18/06 Sat

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[> [> Bit of a coincidence Keira this being on here! Must be meant to be! -- Lolkate, 07:04:50 02/18/06 Sat

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[> Love, love, love this book!!! -- LadyPeggyB, 15:16:12 02/19/06 Sun

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[> I must echo the others - I love this book. It ranks up there in the top three or four ever for me. Anyone want to guess number 1? *g* -- AngieC, 17:48:24 02/28/06 Tue

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[> [> Ummmm.....gi' us a clue! -- Marg B, 01:56:07 03/01/06 Wed

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[> [> [> Well, let's see, there's this large, handsome Scot and a strong woman who just happens to time travel... *VBG* -- AngieC, 10:06:05 03/01/06 Wed

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[> [> [> [> Hey, I am listening to a book just like that at the moment! -- Marg B, 04:15:21 03/02/06 Thu

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[> Fantastic book! -- LCCorporatepoet, 14:34:55 04/10/06 Mon

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[> I loved this book, however, I do agree with Reilly's comment above regarding it's being a bit controversial. Being raised in a very Christian home and with all the Bible studies and Sunday School attendance, I was quite familiar with the Bible's version. It was facinating to see how the author put twists and turns to it. Found myself saying, "Well, that could have happened...." I recommend this book to all women especially those with daughters.I read it enjoyed it and lightning did not strike me down. -- LadyGrace, 07:34:22 01/10/07 Wed

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