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 are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons.
Told in Dinah's voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood-the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of her mothers-Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah-the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that are to sustain her through a damaged youth, 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, immediate connection.
Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of Biblical women's society.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
A book club favorite since it was published in 1997, this biblical-era historical novel provides a whole lot to discuss and debate. Anita Diamant reimagines the Old Testament story of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob. In the Bible, Dinah never speaks; we only hear her brothers’ account of her rape. But in Diamant’s book, she tells the story of her own life—and it’s an epic, page-turning tale of love, tragedy, and betrayal. The Red Tent is an unapologetic celebration of women’s lives—we love that Diamant gives an overlooked character her own voice.
A minor character from the book of Genesis tells her life story in this vivid evocation of the world of Old Testament women. The only surviving daughter of Jacob and Leah, Dinah occupies a far different world from the flocks and business deals of her brothers. She learns from her Aunt Rachel the mysteries of midwifery and from her other aunts the art of homemaking. Most important, Dinah learns and preserves the stories and traditions of her family, which she shares with the reader in touchingly intimate detail. Familiar passages from the Bible come alive as Dinah fills in what the Bible leaves out concerning Jacob's courtship of Rachel and Leah, her own ill-fated sojourn in the city of Sechem and her half-brother Joseph's rise to fame and fortune in Egypt. After several nonfiction works on Judaism (Living a Jewish Life, etc.), Diamant's fiction debut links the passions of the early Israelites to the ongoing traditions of modern Jews, while the red tent of her title (where women retreat for menstruation, childbirth and illness) becomes a resonant symbol of womanly strength, love and wisdom. Despite a few unprofitable digressions, Diamant succeeds admirably in depicting the lives of women in the age that engendered our civilization and our most enduring values.
Customer ReviewsSee All
My book club picked this book for our monthly reading. It was fantastic! I have read the bible multiple times. This was a nice side story. The author obviously did a ton of research. Great book.
I read this book for a Judaic literature class and it was great. I don’t normally choose to read books this big in one sitting but I had to finish it for a test, and the only downside was how tired I was. It’s very rare that a story hooks me in to finish a book in one night. Definitely recommend no matter if you are religious or not, or what gender you identify with. Dinah is one tough woman in my opinion.
Connecting Women to God, Heaven and Earth
I can't say enough about this book. It has a wonderful perspective and allows me the opportunity to feel more of a connection to the biblical stories I have heard and read throughout my years. This was shared with me by my daughter and will be passed to my nieces, sisters and friends. Thank you, Anita Diamant, for your time writing and sharing this amazing novel!