Thursday, November 5, 2009

Book Review: The Red Tent

I've always been a reader. I was the girl who looked "forward" to getting sent to my room, as I knew I could just sit up there and read and allow my books to take me to places unknown (now when I was a child, that place was usually Stoneybrook, CT, as i was a little addicted to this little chain of books known as "The Babysitters Club". I always hoped to be half as cool as Stacy.

In college, pleasure reading became a long lost and foregotten pasttime. There was no more reading things other than Plato, Arestotle, and some really interesting communication books.

once I got myself settled in Chicago, I had a wonderful best friend who lived a short ways away frm me and we would trade books...she also hearts books. It was great to always have someone to bounce book ideas off, sounding board for deeper meanings of books, or just talking about the good laugh reads. Well...she moved (silly husbands), but luckily for me, I ended up finding some lovely ladies who wanted to join a book we created one.

For the month of October, we read "The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant.

"The Red Tent" is the story of Dinah, a mid-wife from Old Testimant times, who was the daughter of Leah and Jacob...and more famously, the sister of Joseph-and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat. In the bible, she is mearly a footnote, a sister who left her family to go be a mid-wife, was raped, and then left her family after they raised havek on the city to "clear her name". That's history, written from one point of view, handed down from generation to generation. This story is told from Dinah's side, a strong, smart, considerate girl who grows up to be a stronger woman.

My Thoughts:
I loved this book, couldn't put it down, read a 300 page book in 4 days. Ms. Diamant does an excellent job of explaining the geography, the brothers, the wives of Jacob. She tells the story in a way that makes you not want to put the book down. The charactors are real. The Red Tent, was a menstral tent, where the women of the house would go during thier "visit from Aunt Flo", sit around like chickens and gossip, for 3 days. There was a funny story in there about how the men think this is a huge curse and painful, and the women just let them think that. The women of the book are strong, self-suffeciant women. As much as the world has handed down the notion of women as submissive, this book pointed out how self sufficiant they were, even when it was not "kosher". Jacob's wives were consulted regarding moving, eating, and most other life decisions.

Dinah left home to be a mid-wife, as she learned her trade from one of her "mother's", Rachael (Joseph's mother....she was Jacob's favorite wife). When she was practicing her mid-wifery, she met a boy (a prince) with whom she fell in love. The consumated, and therefore thought of themselves as "married" and lived as such. The prince went to Jacob to pay his bridal fee, and Jacob's brilliant sons decided that money wasnt enough. The prince needed to be circumsized. The silly prince actually agreed, and him, his father and the whole CITY were adults...YIKES! Well, the brothers thought this still wasnt enough, so they go to the town, ransack it and murder every man in the town. The take Dinah home, but she leaves and goes back to the city and is taken in by her "mother-in-law".

Life goes on, Dinah is known throughout the lands as a great mid-wife, makes some friends and travels alot.

My favorite parts of this book were the strong female relationships. Dinah's mothers all taught her something, all believed in her, all hoped for her. They had thier fights, their disagreements, but they were still a family, still a part of each other. Also, everyone seemed to "Human". Not like the bible, where everyone is depicted as these great oracles, men of knowledge, who didnt drink, didnt have/enjoy sexual experiences, didnt feel jealous. In this book, Jacobs wives get envious of each other, they can hear Jacob on his wedding nights with his wives and on the nights he chooses to spend with them. There is laughter, lust, longing. There are bratty brothers and homemade beer. I could relate to every situation, every thought.

The end, I thought, was a bit predictable. but my bookclub said they didnt see it coming, so maybe it was just me. But I highly recommend this book. Happy Reading!


  1. I also liked how Joseph was portrayed as an adult. How he was portrayed as human and how the situations he was put into once he was in slavery were brutal and that he didn't always end up happy and loved.

    I agree with all the strong women personalities. I really liked Leah. I like how both she and Jacob tricked her dad because they loved each other, not because of her dad. Did you also notice that the seven years their dad (whose name slips my mind) proposed was laughed at by Jacob and changed to 7 months. He said, "We could all be dead in 7 years." I hadn't really thought about that, but I bet she's right. If Jacob had really waited 14 years for Rachel, she'd have been beyond child bearing years...she'd probably have been close to dead.

    I truly heart this book. I'm so glad you chose to read it too!

  2. I just picked this up at a library book sale. I'm glad to hear it's going to be a good one.