Author: Anita Diamant
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: August 2007
First Line: "We have been lost to each other for so long."
Synopsis: "The Red Tent" follows the life of Dinah, only daughter of Jacob and Leah of the Old Testament. Told through the eyes of Dinah, who is only briefly mentioned in the Book of Genesis, we learn what life was like for a young woman at that time. The story begins with Dinah telling about her family which includes her 4 mothers: Leah, Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpah as well as her numerous brothers.
Dinah learns about what it means to be a Jewish woman while spending time within the Red Tent, where the women go during their menstrual cycle and during illness. She sees the strength of the women around her as they show her how they celebrate their womanhood. Dinah narrates her own life from her humble childhood in Mesopotamia, to falling in love as well as her personal tragedy while in Caanan and finally to her death in Egypt.
My Thoughts: I picked up this book never really knowing anything about the main character, Dinah (pronounced Dee-nah) from the Bible. I'm in no way an expert on the Bible. Shamefully, I have never read it cover to cover. As I read this book much of what I knew (which admittedly wasn't much) came back to me in the form of several "oh ya! I remember that person" kind of revelations.
Since I never knew of Dinah I didn't have any expectations on how accurate Diamant would be in her retelling. I think I may have enjoyed the book more if I had known more about the lives of the main characters (Jacob, Leah etc). I had vague recollections but that's about it. Diamant took the famous Bible story of Jacob and filled it in with fictional details to make it a very entertaining read. Some people may be bothered with the fictionalization of Dinah's life.
I really liked two major things about this book. First of all, I loved that this book was from the viewpoint of women in the Bible. Nothing like some Girl Power in Biblical proportions! I cannot imagine how different the Bible would have been written if it had included the stories and lives of women more. Imagine how many wonderful stories and lessons could have been learned from the women of the time if they were only included in the writing of the Bible? Imagine how many stories have now been lost forever? Sad.
I found it fascinating learning how women lived at the time and how they were treated by the men in their lives. This book celebrates the transformation from girlhood to womanhood as well as the miracle (and danger) of giving birth. It shows us the deep connection that women had with each other as they celebrated their common experiences that men can never truly understand. Diamant portrays the women as strong, connected with each other and their ways and very resilient and resourceful. Fascinating to take a look so far back in time.
My Rating: 4/5 stars