The Red Tent is celebrated it’s 10th Anniversary this year, yet I just got around to actually reading it. It was well worth the wait. Anita Diamant takes a biblical character, Dinah, who is mentioned very briefly in Genesis, and weaves a tale of what her life might have been like. We meet Jacob, his four wives and twelve sons. We discover with Dinah how inconsequential she is in the scheme of her father’s life and beliefs. We learn what the red tent means to the lives of the women of Jacob’s (and other’s) tribe. And sadly, we see how changing beliefs and attitudes on the part of the men at that time lead to the eventual disappearance of the red tent and all that it meant to womanhood.
The first few chapters were a bit confusing to me as I tried to follow the genealogy presented. Thankfully Diamant includes a page of family trees, to which I was continually turning back to consult. But after those first few introductory chapters, once Dinah’s story really began, this was a book that I could not put down. I found the culture, the people and the settings all fascinating. The only addition I would have like to have seen was a geographical map so we could follow Dinah’s travels over her lifetime.
I found myself frequently flipping to Diamant’s biography on the back cover, almost in disbelief as I read The Red Tent. Diamant is the author of many books on contemporary Jewish life and I found it surprising that she was able to present a Biblical story from such a non-biblical viewpoint. Or maybe not exactly non-biblical, but non-conventional. A story that revolved around the women of that time period rather than the men and a story that did not always present the biblical figures in the best of light. I have to wonder if she came under some criticism from the ultra-conservative of her faith.
On another note, I will be picking Penelope up this afternoon. Hopefully she’ll drive fine and we will be back to have two vehicles!!!