The Red Tent
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Thank you Gooner & Aubriel!
I really liked Dinah. She was perceptive, loving and with a great voice. Or at least, for the first two thirds of the book. After the death of Shalem, the book seemed to lose it's way. There was too much "and so the months and years passed" which got a little dull.
But the first section, about her life in the encampment with her mothers and the family was great - it seemed a very warm, vibrant and evocative memoir of a time that isn't well documented at all.
I think I'd give it an 8.5 really!
Thanks so much Gooner for giving me the opportunity to read this!
Released 15 yrs ago (2/19/2005 UTC) at
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
On it's way to akg - enjoy!
The story begins with the arrival of Jacob at his uncle Laban’s camp. He marries two of Laban’s daughters (and is given the other two as dowries). Obviously having four sisters as wives leads to jealously but also great bonding and unity. Out of the thirteen living children the four women have, Dinah is the only daughter, and is therefore important to all of them as she will learn their stories.
However, life doesn’t run as smoothly as expected. There is conflict between Jacob and his father in-law and then between Jacob’s sons. This is unsettling to the women and after experiencing both love and tragedy Dinah travels to Egypt where she earns respect and fame from her practise of midwifery.
I admit I found the book confusing to start with as there were so many characters and was glad there was a family tree at the beginning of the book, but the characters soon developed their own personalities, especially the women. The culture of the red tent was fascinating to read about and how attitudes were changing from this old way of life to the new religion of Abraham (Jacob’s grandfather). However it is not the best book I have read this year.
I'd agree with both Beebarf and AKG - I won't try and better AKS's synoposis! I was also always flicking to the family tree at the front!
I really enjoyed the book, I thought the writing was exceptional - warm, perceptive, descriptive. This really is a book that tells the female side of the story, history from her point of view, ie the outsider, the one without power. Having said that, this story illustrated the different power that the women had, particuarly with reference to the skills of the midwives. It also celebrated their relationships and friendships, but also the jealousy between wives. I thought it was a really uplifting story of women's uniqueness, power and life. Stayed up late last night to finish it - one of those books that you just don't want to end. Just going to go to the original source (Genesis 34) to read the male account of Dinah's history!
Sent via economy post from Switzerland 5th April
Sorry! Thanks so much for returning it to me.
I hope to read it myself quite soon, unless anyone else wants it first?
Anyway, I quite enjoyed this book and found that many elements of it were familiar. The story based on the story of Jacob's daughter Dinah was sometimes touching, sometimes infuriating - as I wanted to slap various members for doing the wrong thing.
I got a little bit lost towards the end. I'm not sure if it was due to moving house and being unable to locate it for a week, or whether it was down to the story, but I just lost enthusiasm for it as events plowed towards the end.
Nonetheless I would recommend the book.
Will try to post this on to Normy tomorrow.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Sent in the post to Normy second class.
I'm finishing another bookring first, then this and Brick Lane are next.
This is from the front of the book:
'We have been lost to each other for so long. My name means nothing to you. My memory is dust. This is not your fault, or mine. The chain connecting mother to daughter was broken and the word passed to the keeping of men, who had no way of knowing. That is why I became a footnote, my story a brief detour between the well-known story of my father, Jacob, and the celebrated chronicle of Joseph, my brother. On those rare occasions when I was remembered, it was as a victim.'
This is Anita Diamant's first novel - her other works have been journalism and books about 'contemporary Jewish life'. I don't normally get this excited about novels, but this is the second of two good ones recently (the other being The English Patient), and probably one of the most enjoyable pieces of fiction I have read.
Diamant has really done her homework about what life must have been like for women of that era. It really brings the Bible stories to life - the laughter, tears, jealousies, friendships. Each woman is given her own unique character, as are the men, but the women are the focus. I wonder what made her choose the story of Dinah? Perhaps it's ~because~ so little is known about her - maybe it was easier to write a novel.
The Bible often seemed to me to be very matter of fact, or else blatantly euphemistic. Bits were missed out that probably didn't need explaining at the time, but now are essential to understanding the way of life. Living in tents, herding, husbandry, sharing a husband, customs of the time, even the way people worshipped their gods and the whole culture of god and goddess worship at the time. From reading the Bible I could get the impression that the Judeo-Christian God was the main god in that culture, and there were a few tribes here and there that worshipped idols. But that's because it's the story of the Judeo-Christian God, and not a historical account.
I don't think you'll get much religious renewal from this book though, if that is what you're after, as this is the other way round from how I've described the Bible - it's about what everyday life was like, rather than about God. If your scripture is the Bible it could enhance your readings, but it's certainly no impediment to the reader not to be of any particular religious persuasion. Bear in mind it's not 'historical' but a novel based on elements of Genesis. (Thanks for the tip about which chapter Dinah is in - I read that first).
~Do~ read this book, Gooner, it really helps the Genesis stories come alive and gives the people in it their voice, and their faces come alive, you see their clothes, their homes - wow!. I'm now searching out other novels like this of other Bible stories as I'd like to read some more along these lines (and more Anita Diamant fiction too), and I'm a Buddhist!
Back to Gooner? Or awaiting another person to be added to the ring?
I found the amount of names a little difficult to get to grips with to begin with, but the family tree at the start of the book was great to have as a reference and made everything fine.
I love reading books where you learn something and this one taught me many things. I didn't know any of the cuture about the red tent before and women "being banished to the edge of the village" every month always seemed quite a cruel act, but I understand much more about it now.
I also enjoyed reading the book and then noticing that I knew some of the names and stories from my childhood from when I went to school and learnt little stories from the bible. To have them weave together with the story of Dinah was so great!
I've got scotsbookie's postal address, so I'll get it moving ASAP.
I was fascinated with all the details Anita Diamant gave of the encampment where Dinah lived with her mothers, Jacob & her brothers.
Postal release to wyldetwo today 11 Oct 2005
This is going second on my TBR pile, am looking forward to reading it after all the good reviews it's had from everyone.
A totally absorbing read that completely draws you into Dinah's world. It had me getting the Bible off the bookshelf this morning for the first time in years and leafing through the book of Genesis!
Thanks for sharing Chris, hope you enjoy it too when you finally get to read it!
Now waiting to see if there are any more takers for the ring ........
I was brought up on Bible stories so the context was familiar, but it's a wonderful story from a different point of view. Even inspired me to re-read Genesis ch. 34 and the chapters before and after.
Thanks for sharing
Gooner, I hope you don't mind, I re-offered this on BCUK as it was on it's last leg and there are two further participants.
please let me know
I just didn't see them as real people at all and found it very hard to relate to them. I felt like it had been translated several times and the meanings of words had been lost.
I do like historical novels, and history too, for that matter, but this one was very tedious.
Hope you enjoy it more than I did candy-is-dandy as it will be on its way to you today.
I really enjoyed this, a well-known biblical tale, seen from a completely different perspective and expanded into a fascinating story. I liked the playing down of the Joseph story and particularly his coloured coat which was dealt with in one paragraph.
I agree with others that the end of the book seemed to get bit lost but in the main I liked the descriptions of Dinah's family's way of life and the red tent.
Thanks for sharing gooner. You may have to have this back now and read it yourself!!