June 2014 Guest Editor Freya North on The Red Tent...
I was so bowled over by this extraordinary novel that when I finished it, I couldn’t speak. For hours. And I wept intermittently, for days. It was bought for me by one of my closest friends – who said I was to buy another copy for a woman I love and admire. Subsequently, I bought seven further copies – and I will buy more! The novel takes as its premise a small and seemingly insignificant verse of the Old Testament pertaining to Dinah, sister of Joseph and the only daughter of Jacob. This novel is fascinating enough just on the historical, archaeological level. But as profound exploration of the relationships and support existing between women it is truly special. It is as contemporary and relevant as it is ancient and fascinating and is perhaps my all time favourite book.
Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her fate is merely hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the verses of the Book of Genesis that recount the life of Jacob and his infamous dozen sons. The Red Tent is an extraordinary and engrossing tale of ancient womanhood and family honour. Told in Dinah's voice, it opens with the story of her mothers - the four wives of Jacob - each of whom embodies unique feminine traits, and concludes with Dinah's own startling and unforgettable story of betrayal, grief and love. Deeply affecting and intimate, The Red Tent combines outstandingly rich storytelling with an original insight into women's society in a fascinating period of early history and such is its warmth and candour, it is guaranteed to win the hearts and minds of women across the world. 'If you don't read it you'll be missing out' - Eve. 'I genuinely fell into this rich and colourful world and Dinah and Leah have stayed with me as ancestors and sisters brought to life by Anita Diamant's imaginative novel' - Maureen Lipman .
Closing date: 04/07/2018
'If you don't read it you'll be missing out'
'I genuinely fell into this rich and colourful world and Dinah and Leah have stayed with me as ancestors and sisters brought to life by Anita Diamant's imaginative novel
'Reclaiming women who have been historically almost invisible has been a busy literary occupation for 50 years at least, and women mentioned in the bible are a rich field for imaginative re-creation. The Book of Genesis is packed with dramatic action; human motivation, feelings and the consequences of action figure far more by implication than by description. The life of Dinah is a case in point. Dinah was the only little sister to her 12 older brothers, all sons of Jacob by four different mothers, Her own mother was Leah, the first wife whom Jacob was tricked into marrying, whereas Rachel, who became the second wife, was his true beloved. In the city of Shechem, the Bible tells us, the prince of that land 'took Dinah and lay with her and wanted to marry her. But for the 'defilement'
of their sister, the sons of Jacob took a terrible revenge on the prince and everyone in his city, then took her sister back home. She is heard of no more. The Red Tent, Anita Diamant's triumph of imaginative empathy, tells Dinah's story in her own voice. The life of the little girl, nurtured by her mothers', was filled by their stories and the learning of the female rituals demanded by their many gods. These were told repeatedly in the red tent, to which the women retreated at the time of their monthly periods, and where their babies were born. Midwives needed not only their equipment of knife, string, reeds for suction and amphorae of cumin, hyssop and mint oil, but an accumulation of skills and knowledge to ease birth agonies and avoid the frequent deaths of both babies and thier mothers. The author gives Dinah these skills. The two of the three parts of this book are taken up with the women's lives in the tents of Jacob seen through the child Dinah's eyes, and make delightful reading, rich in detail, written in finely judged, vivid language, and finding credible motivation for the deep puzzles of feeling that the Bible poses. Why did Jacob not accept the prince's offer of marriage for Dinah? How did he really feel about Leah, who bore him seven sons? When Dinah drops out of the Biblical story, the author's task of re-creation becomes much harder. After all, what future could there have been for a ruined, traumatized woman like Dinah? Diamant has envisaged another possibility. Dinah curses her family and, pregnant with the son of the murdered prince, flees to Egypt and lives out a troubled and deprived period until the author finds for her an artistically satisfying and even ultimately triumphant conclusion, when she meets the powerful Zafenat-Paneh-ah of Egypt, who is, of course, her own brother Joseph.' (Kirkus UK)
Publication date: 08/03/2002
Publisher: Pan Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan
|Publication date:||8th March 2002|
|Publisher:||Pan Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan|
|Genres:||eBook Favourites, Literary Fiction,|
|Categories:||Historical fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),|
Anita Diamant is a prize-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The Boston Globe Magazine and Parenting. She is the author of the bestselling novels Good Harbor and The Red Tent, which was named Book Sense Book of the Year. She has also written a collection of essays, Pitching My Tent, and six nonfiction books about contemporary Jewish practice. She lives in Massachusetts.More About Anita Diamant