Book Review: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Friday, February 15, 2013

Title: The Red Tent
Author: Anita Diamant

Summary: "Lost to history by the chronicles of men, here at last is the dazzling story of Dinah, Jacob's only daughter from the Book of Genesis.
Moving panoramically from Mesopotamia to Canaan to Egypt, The Red Tent is robustly narrated by Dinah, from her upbringing by the four wives of her time. In seeking to preserve her own remarkable experiences, as well as those of a long-ago era of womanhood, Dinah tells her story in this beautiful, though-provoking novel."

Review: The summary above is right - this book is definitely thought-provoking, and, at times, very beautiful. But I must admit it took me two or three tries to actually really get into the story.
I will admit upfront that I'm very unfamiliar with the stories of the bible - I was not raised with any religious devotion, and when asked, I tend to defer to the knowledge of Buddhism rather than anything else. But this book was fascinating - enough that I was tempted to pick up our old dusty copy of the Bible to read the story it had been based upon.
The story is told from Dinah's point of view, and is written in such a way as to focus more specifically on the experiences of the women involved in the story. I found certain parts of this story very intriguing - particularly the book's namesake. The red tent exists within this book as a specific tent set aside for women to visit during their periods - a place to be among other women going through similar experiences, and to spend at least the first three days of their 'moontime' being among women, eating sweets, and enjoying rest. Women would also enter the tent when they were about to give birth.
Dinah's experiences revolve around this tent in the early parts of the book, and of her life. As she gets older, things begin to take a turn for the worse. I won't ruin too much of the actual story (those that have read the Book of Genesis will know the gist of what happens), but I was shocked by what Dinah is forced to endure as she ages.

Overall, I enjoyed the development of the female characters, and I found Dinah an interesting protagonist to narrate the story - particularly when she got a bit older. I have read other reviews that said the male characters could stand to be further developed, and while I agree to a certain extent, I also believe that the whole idea of this book was to focus more on the female characters, and I felt that the men in this story were sufficiently explored.
I believe this is a great book for women to read if they crave feeling a bit more connected to other women - as I sometimes do - and also if they enjoy epic stories that follow the entire life of one individual. This is a beautifully written book.

Rating: 7.5/10

In honour of my return to book reviews, I'd like to let you guys know about a new event that's going to be happening over at Book Depository on Thursday the 21st of Feb (that's in two weeks). I love Book Depository - they have a great range of books, at great prices, and they offer free postage around the world. Pretty sure I've recommended them to all my friends. I also still believe in supporting local independent bookstores, but I balance that with shopping online too!
Anyway, here's a little banner to let you know what's happening...

Sounds pretty good, right? Check it out :) Love to all who read.

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