Shovelmonkey1's Reviews > The Red Tent

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
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's review
Aug 05, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: almost-chick-lit, bookcrossing-books, read-in-2012
Recommended for: ladies loving history
Read on August 05, 2012 , read count: 3

This book is my exception to the rule book. Generally I will be tying on my sneakers good and secure, and heading for the hills at great speed if anyone threatens (recommends) me with a tale of female bonding, sisterhood and lovey-dovey fuzziness. At first glance I would have interpreted this as a sort of biblical version of the First Wives club or some other story where all the ladies band together in order to achieve some sense of self and self worth and to high five each other and sing songs and shout like Annie Lennox about how sisters are doing it for themselves. Listen.... you can hear the gentle pitter patter of my feet... that's me running.

This book however broke through my carefully constructed (and partly naturally acquired) barrier of cynicism, vitriol, bitterness and scoffing. I even stopped squishing kittens and stealing candy from small children in order to sit down and read it. I've given it five stars and I mean it sincerely.

I don't know if it is the combination of female trials and tribulations, a reminder to treasure our mothers and to remember our past that made me love this, against my will, but something about this book broke the barrier and it has been on my shelf for a good ten years and it has been read at least three times since it arrived.

The story, whilst loosely based on the biblical tale of Dinah and the formation of the tribe of Israel is liberally adapted to shape Diamant's requirements and woman's perspective (if not a feminist one). I'll overlook any potential biblical inaccuracies as I'm not exactly a staunch believer, what with archaeological excavations general disproving a tranche of the contents anyway. Apparently Dinah is mentioned only once in the bible. This bit of information features in a number of reviews and has now become a proto fact in its own right although admittedly I am too lazy to open my much under-thumbed copy of the good book and check to see if this in fact true. Dinah is the only daughter of Leah, a child of Jacob, suckled by her mother aunts, Zilpah, Bilhah and Rachel. The story of her brothers Judah, Reuben, Simon, Levi, Zebulun, Dan, Gad, Asher, Benjaman and Joseph - there may be others but I forget. Her life is one of quiet anonymity amongst her male counterparts until she visits the city of Shechem and becomes the wife of Shalem. A bloody feud ensues between the sons of Jacob and the men of Shechem and Dinah is robbed of happiness, status and eventually the son she carries as she flees to Egypt.

The male characters are under developed, flattened out and distant; this is clearly something that a number of people picked up on, but isn't that how many of the contemporary female characters would have seen their menfolk during the Early Bronze Age in the Near East? Distant authority figures who visited their women's pallets for the procurement of pleasure and children and who visited the kitchens for sustenance. These people were not engaging in erudite conversation or political banter. Women were possessions, men possessors. Because of this it might be assumed that women would have created their own tight knit and highly dependent society.

This is a book about women and probably will mainly appeal to women- I'm not saying men can't or won't read it but rare is the gentleman who wants long descriptions of menstruation or child birth, unless of course he is a gynaecologist. I think generally though this book made me think about my own relationships with other women. Do I take my mother for granted? How well do I know her story? What will my legacy be? And most importantly should I now wonder what my legacy as a woman will be or in the 21st century should I discount this and think only of my legacy and story as a person?

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03/22/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Richard (new)

Richard Derus This was one of the most humid books I've ever read.

Shovelmonkey1 Humid? Explain!

message 3: by Richard (new)

Richard Derus Positively drenched in crotch-fog...

message 5: by Miriam (new)

Miriam I'm so tempted right now to create a "moist" shelf...

Shovelmonkey1 Erk! All so wrong.

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