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The Red Tent: A Novel [Paperback]

Anita Diamant
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,084 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 21 2007

A New York Times Bestseller
 
A decade after the publication of this hugely popular international bestseller, Picador releases the tenth anniversary edition of The Red Tent.
 
Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that tell of her father, Jacob, and his twelve sons.
 
Told in Dinah's voice, Anita Diamant imagines the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood--the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of the mothers--Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah--the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through childhood, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past.
 
Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of biblical women's lives.

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Product Description

From Amazon

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.

"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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

Skillfully interweaving biblical tales with events and characters of her own invention, Diamant's (Living a Jewish Life, HarperCollins, 1991) sweeping first novel re-creates the life of Dinah, daughter of Leah and Jacob, from her birth and happy childhood in Mesopotamia through her years in Canaan and death in Egypt. When Dinah reaches puberty and enters the Red Tent (the place women visit to give birth or have their monthly periods), her mother and Jacob's three other wives initiate her into the religious and sexual practices of the tribe. Diamant sympathetically describes Dinah's doomed relationship with Shalem, son of a ruler of Shechem, and his brutal death at the hands of her brothers. Following the events in Canaan, a pregnant Dinah travels to Egypt, where she becomes a noted midwife. Diamant has written a thoroughly enjoyable and illuminating portrait of a fascinating woman and the life she might have lived. Recommended for all public libraries.
-?Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every woman should read this July 2 2004
Format:Hardcover
We have been lost to each other for so long...I am so grateful you have come...Blessings on your eyes. Blessings on your children. Blessings on the ground beneath you. My heart is a ladle of sweet water, brimming over. Selah."
As of 082903, this book is among the Top Ten Most Popular (most registered) Books on BookCrossing.com. It's not hard to see why. It's the kind of book that should be passed from sister to sister, mother to daughter, generation to generation. Women in the Bible have generally been portrayed as virgins or harlots, often serving as postscripts to the more familiar stories of men who begat men. But who gives birth to those men? Strong, splendid, complicated, terrible, beautiful women.
Anita Diamant weaves a compelling tale of the most vivid, human characters. Her writing flows like the Nile. Rock on.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very unique and captivating July 19 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I loved this book for all the same reasons everyone else did, but I must add that it was very refreshing to read a book with such a unique format. The format of most stories and novels goes: 1. introduction 2. rising action 3. climax 4. falling action 5. resolution
However, "The Red Tent" has no rising action, so the climax hits you like a ton of bricks making for a very unpredictable story. Then, the story continues to rise and fall in very atypical undulations. I love this completely unpredictable format.
One last remark I must make is that I appreciate how Diamant makes no bones about this book being "based on" or having a direct correlation to the stories in the bible. On the very first page of the book she cautions the reader that the stories and names in "The Red Tent" may be similar to those of the Bible, but she is in no way implying that they are true or should be believed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly surprised! May 7 2011
By Melissa
Format:Paperback
This book had been sitting on my shelf for over a year before I decided to pick it up and give it a try. My mother had recommended it to me, but I was hesitant to read it because of the biblical storyline. I am not very religious, so I was unfamiliar with many of the characters that were presented, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that my lack of knowledge about the history did not prevent my understanding and enjoyment of this book.

It is the story of Dinah, who is barely mentioned in Genesis, told from her point of view: from the time of her father's meeting of her mother and three 'mother-aunties,' through her childhood, to her first marriage followed by unbelievable grief, and into the later years of her life as a renowned midwife. There are several dramatic plot twists that held my attention and forced me to keep reading to find out what would happen, more so in the second half of the book than in the first.

I would recommend this book to anyone, even those who are unfamiliar with the story from the Bible.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars False advertising March 30 2003
Format:Paperback
I really hated this book. But not necessarily because of the writing style or character development. I think the reason why I just hate this book so much is because it was labelled as religious fiction. So I read it, hoping to feel something spiritual, but it is not really a religious book. At least, not Christian; it's more like the goddess cult. That's fine, but don't sell it as something else.

The author's ability to weave a whole story around this one verse in the Bible is pretty cool, but the story is really just a vehicle to push feminism and the goddess cult along with it. The women in this book don't really believe in God--He's for the men--rather, they believe in female pagan gods and "girl-power". The whole emphasis of the book is on these women and the world they create for themselves; God is thrown in there as kind of an aside. And while all of the men in the book are flawed and mostly selfish, the women are saints, living in harmony with each other. This is, of course, completely unrealistic and absurd. I wish I had known this before paying money for this book because then I wouldn't have been expecting one thing while being sold another. As it is, I feel gypped.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I only wish the red tent was still around! June 30 2004
Format:Paperback
I'm not religious. What I know about the bible, I know from being preached to by pius people, television & grandparents.
The story of Jacob was completely new to me, and while reading this book I rented the religious film "Jacob" to compare the stories... The book was awsome, but I'm glad I compared it to the patriarchal version of events, because I realized how horribly unrealistic the "biblical" story was, compared to this work of fiction.
It's a wonderful story that should be read by every woman... especially those who take their priveledges & rights for grantid.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What if a woman wrote the Bible? June 25 2004
Format:Paperback
I'm not sure whether men would like this book, but as a woman, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The red tent is where the women in this Biblical story go when they're on their periods, to give you an idea of what this book is about. I fell in love with all of the characters. The plot is fascinating and fast-paced. The style is beautiful. The fact that the author took one little passage from the Bible and based this entire book on it is remarkable. This book is how the Bible would have been if a woman had written it. A great idea, and well executed.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Really Disappointed
I was looking forward to reading this one as a number of my friends liked it. I did not like the style of writing and I did not like the lack of character development. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Gisela
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Story
This was a book I couldn't put down. The beginning is a bit confusing due to the amount of names but once you get into the story all the main characters come to life and you don't... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Wendy Logan
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Nice Novel
The novel relates to the bibilical times and very well written. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the life style of the older generation.
Published 11 months ago by Lakshman Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely a MUST READ!!!
This book definitely took me back in time but also kept it modern.

I got an in depth understanding of how it would be to live in times like the ones discussed in this... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Trishann Fuller
4.0 out of 5 stars Celebrates women being women
Narrated by a courageous female, this biblical tale celebrates women being women and tells of the tragedy of loving. A must read for all women and men!
Published on July 24 2012 by The Page Turners of Dawson Creek
1.0 out of 5 stars April 2012
This book did not live up to my expectations. Very confusing to many characters. The detail was great can't say much.
Published on April 26 2012 by Ashley
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all-time favorites
I could not put this book down from start to finish. I stayed up until 2 am for 2 nights in a row just to keep reading. "We all share the same mother" - so true. Read more
Published on Oct. 28 2011 by L. Curtis
5.0 out of 5 stars The Red Tent
Having been brought up in the Christian religions,this book is a wonderful point of view from a female in the Old Testament. Very well written and a book that holds your interest. Read more
Published on Aug. 9 2011 by JP Morgan
1.0 out of 5 stars this book really flies--when it's tossed across the room
I bought this book because it was highly recommended to me. Best seller, stellar reviews, material supposedly researched; thought I would be in for a treat. Read more
Published on June 17 2011 by Elle Em
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rent Tent
The book arrived in good shape and I've just started to read it. It was referred to me by a friend who enjoyed the read and I think her recommendation is proving to be correct.
Published on Aug. 11 2010 by A. M. Lahey
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