GENRE: Christian, Biblical History
In this retelling of the story of Dinah found in the Biblical book of Genesis (Chapter 34), THE RED TENT by Anita Diamant (1997) is captivating in plot and depiction. The only mention of Dinah in the Bible was about her supposed rape by a Shechemite prince. It is thoroughly about women, and truly for women. The length of the book was a bit much because it’s from her preteens to death. But if you can withstand the “life story” length, it is worth the read.
THE RED TENT answered a lot of questions I’ve had about life in bible times, especially about women. The red tent is where the women of that time gathered during their monthly flow and where they birthed babies. It answered for me what the interaction between men and women was like. It was truly a male driven society and there was little interaction between the genders.
It is apparent that Anita did her homework and researched the pagan background of that era. There are many things I did not know about why God said “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” It is because of how many gods they worshipped during that time.
I enjoyed the embellishments of the story at times, but know that there are some which were definitely wrong. The important one was how Jacob and Leah married. Anita portrays the switching of Rachel for Leah as Rachel’s fault but Biblically it was Laban who switched them, swindling Jacob. I strongly disagree with the details she gave in the marriage between these too. It could not have been a happy one as Anita portrays. (She seems to be an optimist and twists the story in a positive light even through the tragedy of Dinah’s life.)
Nonetheless, I consider this story a worthwhile read because of how close the Bible is to my heart. I have always had trouble reading the mysterious words of the Bible and for someone to depict a story from the female point of view, makes me bubble with questions and curiosity. Now that I have a tid-bit of an idea about the role of women, maybe I will understand the Old Testament stories better. It is an eye-opening portrait of a woman of the Bible and the life she might have lived.
3. Good: No regrets. I found this quote on Anita Diamant’s website. She wrote: “The amazing word-of-mouth support from readers and from book groups, has made THE RED TENT a publishing phenomenon. First printed in 1997 with no advertising budget and few reviews in major newspapers or magazines, this book only found its audience through the loyalty of readers, and the support of independent bookstores.”
I thought it was amazing that this book found me. Let me know what you think if you read it.