Anita Diamant's The Red Tent
is an epic celebration of womanhood, written for women everywhere, regardless of their status, creed or colour. It is the story of a woman whose life was blessed by great love and torn by tragedy, of the lessons she learned through her own experiences and those of the women, and men, whose lives she touched. Diamant has chosen as her leading lady a woman whose name alone conjures up echoes of mystery, passion and betrayal. The Red Tent
is the fictional tale of Dinah, whose life, like the majority of women in the Old Testament, merits only a passing mention. It is the men in Dinah¹s life that history has remembered: her famous father Jacob, his dozen sons and especially her brother, Joseph and his technicolour dreamcoat. Not religious? Don' t worry, this biblical character and the story Anita Diamant has woven from the merest hints, will appeal to all.
Strangely, even though Dinah lived her life several thousand years ago in a culture far removed from almost all of the women who will read this book, her story is as relevant and fresh as any written in recent years. This novel is as compelling for its female take on the grand themes that transcend time--birth, death, love, hate, betrayal and forgiveness-as it is for its meticulously researched and hugely fascinating picture of everyday life as an early Jewish woman. The book's title refers to the tent where the women retired each month to pass their menstruation, and the descriptions of their time spent celebrating this fundamental rite of womanhood, and other daily customs make this a most original and inspiring book. In an age when gender and family traditions are becoming more and more diluted, The Red Tent honours women and their many and varied roles in life. Carey Green
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 that 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