Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

From Goodreads: 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.

This is one of those books that every woman in the book world read – about ten years ago. I’ve had it in my TBR pile for quite awhile and even picked it up to start more than once but it just never caught my interest enough to keep going. I’m not sure why it worked this time but it did. One change, this time I relaxed and didn’t try to make perfect sense of all the complex relationships right off the bat; there are multiple wives all having multiple children plus a few in-laws – a lot of people hanging out around the outside of that red tent. Letting go like that was a good decision because some of the characters from the beginning don’t become important again for a long time so no need to stress about getting all of them sorted out! Instead I just kind of let the imagery take over and saw the happenings – the worship, the feasts, the time spent in the tent – and enjoyed all those interesting scenes. By the time the main character, Dinah, is taking leave of her family and a different set of characters come in, I was feeling pretty confident about all of it. The historical details were fascinating especially the blend of Christian stories and pagan rituals. I wonder how much of it is true. (Not enough to go off and research it but enough to muse about it here!) I am glad I finally read The Red Tent, it was interesting, and I feel a wee bit smarter for having accomplished it - isn't that always the way it is with historical fiction!

This is the auhor's website. She's written twelve books - this one and eleven others I have never heard of until now.

This book counts for a few challenges:


bermudaonion said...

Well, I haven't read this one, and I'm not sure I will, but I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Melissa Mc (Gerbera Daisy Diaries) said...

One of my favorites...but also one of the most controversial we have ever read in our book club!!