Title: The Red Tent
Author: Anita Diamant
Source: Personal library
Summary (From back of book):
Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons in the Book of Genesis.
Told in Dinah's voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoil 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 hard-working youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a a foreign land. Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates and intimate, immediate connection.
My Two Cents:
I really, really enjoyed this book. I was familiar with the very short story of Dinah from the Bible, and didn't really give it a second thought until reading Diamant's take on the whole ordeal.
Dinah is a fabulous character. Even though she comes from a time so far removed from my own, I could easily visualize her and found Diamant's portrayal completely believable. As the only daughter among 12 sons, it is a given that she would be doted on by the women and pretty much forgotten by the men. There are very few interesting, well-rounded females in the early portions of the Bible, so it was really nice to see one pulled out and given her own story. I really liked that she felt compelled to take care of other women as a midwife, so we got to see her interactions with people of all classes as well as those within her family. From what I know of the time in which Dinah would have lived, every detail of Diamant's narrative makes sense.
There is just so much in this book I hardly can begin to deal with all of it here. I'm usually not one for obviously feminist literature, but this book worked for me. My favorite scenes were those within the red tent, when Dinah and her four mothers spend three days each month talking and enjoying one another's company. It actually made me wish that there still was a tradition such as this in today's world.
For anyone who likes historical fiction, wants to know more about Dinah or who just is interested in a really rich narrative, I would suggest this book.