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message 1: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
General discussion for The Red Tent by Anita Diamant goes here.

message 2: by Meghan (new)

Meghan | 423 comments Mod
Despina - I don't know anything about this book, except that I've seen the cover all the time at Target. Does this have anything to do with biblical times where women were placed in a red tent for some reason? Just wondering.

message 3: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 141 comments Mod
I read this book a long time ago, and I remember liking it a lot.

I can believe that there was a special tent. In my understanding of Jewish laws of purity, men are not allowed to touch, or even talk to, women while they are on their periods.

Part of why I was fascinated with the book is because it's so rare that we read or learn about women in biblical times.

message 4: by Sera (new)

Sera | 195 comments Like Robbie, I also read this book many years ago(about 6, I believe). I really loved it, because it showed the familial and friendly relationships among women and how important they are. Isn't it wonderful that in some early cultures, women used what is for some a difficult time of the month to be together to bond? I would love to go into a red tent for 5 days a month with my "sisters".

message 5: by Meghan (new)

Meghan | 423 comments Mod
This is so fascinating! I am really interested in reading this book now. I am currently reading a book about a guy who spent one year trying to live by all the rules in the bible. He brought up the red tent. And yes, Robbie. Men were not allowed to touch women while they were on their period. It was 7 days (I believe he said it is now up to 12). But it wasn't because they thought the women were "dirty" but rather the period was and they didn't want to be tempted to commit any acts that would "soil" themselves or their wives during that time.

Considering how most women feel about that time of the month, I'm thinking a little pampering and hanging out with the girlfriends is not necessarily a bad idea. Why are all the good traditions taken? dang.

message 6: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
I vote we start our own red tents with our girlfriends!

Meghan, I want to read this one too. Maybe DM in May?

message 7: by Tina (new)

Tina | 2 comments I also really loved the book! I'm always attracted to well known stories (ie, the Bible) that are told by a non-traditional perspective. Despina, if you are on the lookout for more of these, try Clysta Kinstler's The Moon Under Her Feet, which is a story of Mary Magdalene from her point of view - don't worry, it's not at all DaVinci Code-ish :) -

Or, if you like a more humorous biblical re-telling story, try Christopher Moore's Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal.

message 8: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
Another one on my to-read shelf is Sarah by Marek Halter. It appealed to me because of the name, obviously, and it's about Sarah, the wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac. It's part of a Canaan trilogy. The other books are about Zipporah (Moses' wife) and Lilah from the book of Ezra.

message 9: by Sera (new)

Sera | 195 comments Interesting comments, Despina, especially about the scary, awkward portrayal of girls getting their periods for the first time. Remember Stephen King's Carrie? Or, the old "now, you are a woman" line? Please...and hardly. I would have freaked out if my mother said that to me since I was only 12 and my niece was only 10 for goodness sakes.

LOL - I just had a thought - think any guys will be piping on this book discussion? I remember when reading the book that I tried to talk to to my husband about it, and he didn't look very comfortable - LOL

Sarah, I have the first two books of the Canaan trilogy, but I haven't read them yet. I bought the first one after I had read The Red Tent. Darn it - add it to the heap of books to be read and discussed. I believe that my reading for the next 24 months has been solidified.

message 10: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
Sera, are you kidding? My husband runs screaming from the room whenever there's a tampon commercial on TV. Yesterday there was a tampon commercial followed by a personal lubricant commercial and I thought he was going to throw up. Yeast infection medicine commercials are the worst for him.

message 11: by Sera (new)

Sera | 195 comments Good points, Despina. Women can sometimes be their own worst enemies. However, there are stereotypes that men have to deal with, too. My husband and I have a non-traditional relationship in that I am the breadwinner and he stays home to take care of the house. He used to be a videographer, but my job kept forcing us to move so he gave up his career for mine, because my earning capacity is so much higher than his. And, check this out, it's women who give me the most grief about him staying home and not working (most men are envious of his position, heh). I have heard so many times, especially from the stay at home moms in my neighborhood - "you know, he really needs to work". And, I always say "he does work; he takes care of the house, cooks and in between he is remodeling parts of our house, painting, putting in new flooring, etc." Then, they just stare at me like I don't get it, but the thing is that they don't get it. My husband made a huge sacrifice for us, and I respect him for that, because I believe that many men wouldn't have done so. And makes him so different from them, especially those who don't have children either?

My husband really wants to be a writer so as the home improvement projects begin to dwindle, I'm hoping that he'll be able to do something to fulfill one of his personal goals, by working on his craft and hopefully, getting published one day.

message 12: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
Hmm, just noticed this is a Rory book.

message 13: by Meghan (new)

Meghan | 423 comments Mod
Sarah! I accidentally deleted one of your messages when I thought I was deleting mine. Sorry! My computer has major lag--it's what I get for clicking 800x.

And Despina - Loving the book! Highly recommend it as well as AJ Jacob's first book "The Know-It-All" (his book on how he read the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica). Very easy to read and extremely knowledgeable, yet funny.

message 14: by Sera (new)

Sera | 195 comments That Rory knows what she's doing when it comes to reading.

message 15: by Sarah (last edited Feb 03, 2008 02:25PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
Meghan, I'm too lazy to re-type all that. Heh.

Do you think the lag has to do with your wireless connection in your house? I don't really remembre having problems when I was connected to it though...

message 16: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 141 comments Mod

I have a similar arrangement in my home. It's actually a challenge for both of us. I don't typically see myself as a "workaholic," whereas I would say my husband is. From an economic standpoint, however, it just makes more sense for me to work. We not only get some flack from others, but also from ourselves. Whether nature or nurture, I tend to feel guilty when I'm not doing more of the typical mommy things--if I miss events, Dr's. appts, etc. And my husband just doesn't seem to feel whole without "working." I maintain that keeping up a home is as much or more work than a paying job.

MOst of our friends have similar situations, at least in the sense that the dads are very active in the care of the children. We have pretty open-minded friends who made more traditional choices, too, but they are very liberal and open.
One thing that is interesting is that women seem to have more of a choice in this area, but there is still more of a stigma when a man stays home. And other men don't seem to be shy about making comments about them being "kept" or otherwise taking stabs at their masculinity.

message 17: by Sera (new)

Sera | 195 comments Despina and Robbie, thank you for your support. It means alot, and I agree that if it works, then it works and who cares that it looks different from what we are accustomed. Maybe it won't work a year from now or 5 years from now and then we'll need to figure it out again, but we have both settled into this routine, and we are happy.

I also agree that it goes back to the point of the back, where we should be looking out for each other and encouraging each other. In a way, it's good that I've gone through this, because the more I see others judge, the less judgmental I become. We all have difficult choices to make, as evidenced by these posts.

message 18: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
So the comment that Meghan deleted was me telling Sera (and now Robbie, too) that I think it's awesome that your husbands are man enough to realize that they don't have to be the provider to be a wonderful husband and/or father and that they sound very supportive.

I also said, in the comment that Meghan deleted (hee), that I am a housewife without children and many women think I must be stupid and/or lazy to not have a job when I don't even have any kids to take care of. I was in the banking industry for 10+ years and had gotten to the point where the stress level of my job was making me physically ill. My husband and I figured I'd be far less likely to get pregnant while under such stress, and if I did get pregnant, the stress couldn't be healthy for me or for my baby. Also it was important to me to be able to stay home with my kids for at least the first couple of years, so we wanted to adjust to a single income. I feel very fortunate to have a husband who supports me both emotionally and financially and I have been a much happier person since quitting my banking job.

But I also don't look down on women who choose to work, or who work because they don't have the choice financially to stay home. As long as their children and spouse are healthy and happy and loved and safe and well cared for, what business is it of mine?

message 19: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
I bought this today! But I think it mught be a while before I get to it because I have a whole bunch I need to read for various book clubs.

message 20: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I have been reading all these comments and now I am off to get myself a copy of this book. Is there a family tree in the book - I am worried that I will confuse sho the different people are ..... Or could someone tell me where I can this this info. I admit my ignorance - I do not know the biblical family tree that well!

message 21: by Sera (new)

Sera | 195 comments Thanks, Sarah! You're awesome. Good for you for doing what's best for you. Other people don't have to live our lives and thus they have no right to judge them. I'm too busy to worry about what other people are doing anyway.

message 22: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 141 comments Mod
As I recall, there is a family tree in the book. I'm no Biblical scholar myself, and I'm pretty sure I could follow everything.

message 23: by Sera (new)

Sera | 195 comments I agree with Robbie, Chris. I believe that there is a family tree in the first couple of pages of the book.

message 24: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Thanks for your quick replies - Robbie and Sera! You were right - the book does have a family tree. I have already started The Red Tent, and I am thoroughly enjoying it! What makes a good book? I was not drawn by the "topic" of the book, but now when I am reading the book I so enjoy how Diamant expresses points of view. She really does capture how a woman will perhaps see things from a different angle than a man..... I love the line, "If you want to understand about any woman you must first ask about her mother and then listen carefully....." A good writer will express thinks magically! They can turn any subject into a relevant, interesting plot. Furthermore I got into Wikepedia and read about the family tree - WOW it is complicated and very interesting! When was monogamy established? Did the red tent really exist or is this just fictional? I think it is really a wonderful practice. I think there is so much value in teaching women to help each other. Our society has sort of lost this - there is so much wicked competition and fighting going on between women! Emotions of jealousy, envy and disparagement certainly are expressed in the book's family too, but that there was a "red tent" really did draw them together and helped them to understand and love each other. I wouldn't mind a red tent in todays society! I have just begun the book.....And I love the line about how it is impossible to stop the baby boys from "forever peeing into the corners of the tent no matter what you told them." It is Diamant's words that make the book magical!

message 25: by Sera (new)

Sera | 195 comments Chris, I'm pleased to hear that you are enjoying the book. We as women have many characteristics that are more prevalent in our gender than in men's so I appreciate your comments. I have made some wonderful relationships with women on goodreads, and I am grateful for that. Life is difficult enough without our being spiteful and resentful to each other.

message 26: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie To be honest people are often unkind to each other. Between women this often turns bitter, nasty. I think "jealousy" often lies underneath. Why is that? Sometimes I feel that how people of the same sex treat each other is so brutal. Think of daughter/mother relationships and father /son relationships. I wonder if there isn't some chemical thing happening in us. Why is just plain old kindness so often lacking in all contacts. Kindness is so simple, so easy and so often lacking. Take a little thing like stopping and telling a stranger that you love their coat, for example. How often do we think it, but say nothing! I am kind of going astray here...... So, my big question still remains : was there a red tent in biblical times? I have come so far in the book that I know the practice will not be continued. (Dinah has spent time with Rebecca.) Please someone tell me what you think?

message 27: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 141 comments Mod
Without doing any research whatsoever, I'm going to say that the author probably *did* do research and there is some historical evidence suggesting its existence. If I decide to look further into it, I'll let you know. You could also ask any student of the old testament (seminary student) what they know.

message 28: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 141 comments Mod
Okay, I was probably wrong in my previous statement. Here's an exerpt from a piece written by Rabbi J. Avram Rothman

"Even the "red tent" in the story, a place to which women were cast off during their menstruation cycle and men never ventured near, has no basis in Jewish belief or history. It says more for today's questions about equality of the sexes, than in biblical times, since the red tent never existed. Perhaps the author invented it to figuratively create a "women's club." But nevertheless, she created it."

message 29: by Robbie (last edited Feb 12, 2008 05:37AM) (new)

Robbie Bashore | 141 comments Mod
Duh! Even better, a quote from the author herself.

Question: Was there really a red tent in ancient times?

"I did not find any evidence that women in this period of history in this place (ancient Iraq/Israel) used a menstrual tent. However, menstrual tents and huts are a common feature in pre-modern cultures around the world, from native Americans, to Africans. The rendering of what happened inside that tent is entirely my own creation. "

message 30: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Robbie - THANK YOU!!!!! I like to know what is real and what is fictional.

message 31: by Karen (new)

Karen I haven't read "The Red Tent" but I plan to. My daughter was reading it when she came for a visit a few years ago. She would sit in the chair with the book and say "I can't finish the last three pages". When I asked why, she said "because it's so good that I don't want it to end". The book is fiction, there's no red tent in history. Here's a publisher's comment, "skillfully interweaving biblical tales with events and characters of her own invention, Diamant's sweeping first novel re-creates the life of Dinah, daughter of Leah and Jacob".

message 32: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie It doesn't matter at all what is fiction and what is history in this book - it is just as lovely to imagine what it would be like if such a custom as "the red tent" did exist. I have now finished the book. WOW! Diamant truely moves our emotions. The beauty of birth, the sorrows AND wonders of aging, the horror of injustice - elements that are a part of all lives. The ending of the book is so beautiful and profound. What exactly is it that we want to reap from our lives? What hurts most? To be totally forgotten, isn't that the cruelest fate? For me this was a central point of the novel! What do others think?

The "red tent" did not really prevent hatred or jealousy among women. Remember how Leah and Rachael continued to feel towards each other. They merely controled their emotions. In the red tent they slept on opposite sides of the tent. However their emtions remained. They were quick to charge at the other as conflicts arose. I would say that life itself taught the women to love each other. It was each womean's struggle through life that taught them to forgive each other. Remember that Leah gave to Dinah (via Judah) Rachael's lapis ring.

Furthermore, it was not only Dinah but also Benia who understood the significance of this act. Many readers disparage Diamant's characterizations of the men in the novel. Some say the men characters are "flat". I think this is wrong because she gives them insight and tenderness too. Men and women do see things differently. We do act differently, but that is not to say one is weaker or less capable or less worthy than the other.

I also loved how different characters were allowed to be different. From birth people are just plain different. What a bore if we were all the same!

I loved the book because it taught me a bit about biblical times and it gave me a lot to ponder. I want to read more about biblical times and customs. That is what a good book will do.

message 33: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 141 comments Mod
Did you see the books recommended earlier in this thread?

I think this is a book I gave to someone else because it was so good, so unfortunately I can't review in order to converse much with you about it. I enjoy reading your insights, though.

message 34: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Robbie - do you mean the ones called the Canaan Trilogy? Have your read them? Are they as good as the Red Tent? I thought I had added the first one to my maybe bookshelf - but it is not there! Who was the author again? Isn't the first called Sarah?

message 35: by Sera (new)

Sera | 195 comments Hi, Chris. The first book in the Canaan Trilogy is called Sarah. The author is Halter.

message 36: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 141 comments Mod
I haven't read them, but added them to my to-read shelf. I've been kind of getting into historical fiction lately, so thought I might enjoy them. I suppose we could debate about whether or not these would count as "historical," but I'm not suggesting we should.

message 37: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
I think it's safe to say they're historical fiction. Fiction is the key word here. I think "historical fiction" just refers to works of fiction which take place in a time earlier than they are written, right?

message 38: by Sera (new)

Sera | 195 comments Sarah, that's a good definition of historical fiction. I would say that it fits one group of these types of books; the other is when real life people are included as characters in the stories. For example, The Other Boleyn Girl deals with the real life Boleyn family and Henry VIII. Jean Plaidy is a favorite of some of ours in the group, and she is one of the authors who takes the fewest liberties with historical fact. Instead, she focuses her fiction on the feelings of the characters and why they take certains actions or not. Therefore, I would put your definition on one end of the sliding scale and Plaidy's approach closer to the other end.

message 39: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
OK, yeah, that's what I was wondering. If historical fiction had to be about real people or events or if they just had to take place in "history."

message 40: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Hi Sera and Sarah - I think it is OK to even classify a book as historical fiction if it correctly tells about a previous time period, even if the novel's main characters are fictional!

Robbie and Sera, one thing that is strange is that although the red tent is fictional, when I read an excerpt from the beginning of Sarah, the first book of the Canaan Trilogy by Halter, they speak of the "blood room". OK, not a tent but a place where women went during their period and when they had their babies. So has Halter also fictionalized this custom? Makes me wonder how much is true history, did both authors fictionalize this? Did they borrow it from each other?

I don't know how one suggests a new book to in this group - but I can say that The Geopgraphy of Bliss by Eric Weiner is great and that is lots that one could discuss...... Happiness and Bhutan really gets one thinking. Furthermore it is so funny!

message 41: by Robbie (last edited Feb 16, 2008 08:21AM) (new)

Robbie Bashore | 141 comments Mod
I really like the kind that deals with historic events, so that I learn more about them by getting sucked into an interesting story and character development. Somehow, I never took much interest in history, and so I have large gaps in my knowledge. For example, it was in reading The Birth of Venus that I discovered the Bonfire of the Vanities wasn't just some 80's movie I never saw! (insert embarrassed smiley here). Other historical fiction books I liked were The Killer Angels and Year of Wonders.

message 42: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
Chris, post books you want to talk about in the "I Want To Talk About" thread and either Meghan or I will start a folder. I'll start one for The Geography of Bliss... is Happiness and Bhutan another one?

message 43: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Sarah, Happiness and Bhutan is just one chapter in the book Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner, not a separate book. Thank you for starting the folder. Is there any way each folder could have the title of the book visible rather than just the word "General Discussion" in the emails? Robbie I will check out the books you just recommended, but I have to tell you I cannot keep us with all the books I MUST read! I love "historical fiction" and I do like a very wide definition of that term. I just like picking up the feel of an era alwon with the novel. Then I feel I am also learning something. I just picked up Robertson Davies The Deptford Trilogy. How did I miss this modern classic?

message 44: by Meghan (new)

Meghan | 423 comments Mod
So I just started this book for another club and I am so thrilled by just the Prologue!

What immediately struck me was how similar the themes are to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, specifically the language of women and the relationship between "sisters" and mothers-daughters.

My favorite line from the prologue:

"If you want to understand any woman you must first ask about her mother and then listen carefully. Stories about food show a strong conection. Wistful silences demonstrate unfinished business. The more a daughter knows th details of her mother's life--without flinching or whinng--the stronger the daughter."

message 45: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 141 comments Mod
I hadn't thought about comparing this to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, I read the books so far apart, but I definitely agree with you.

message 46: by Sera (new)

Sera | 195 comments Meghan and Robbie, I also thought about The Joy Luck Club when reading this book.

message 47: by Meghan (new)

Meghan | 423 comments Mod
I thought of that too Sera! That's probably the one book where I actually preferred the movie over the book. But I love that story either way.

The passing down from mother to daughter I think is lost some here in the States. I hope I can learn from these books so I have something to offer my own daughter. I think there is something to be said about tradition.

message 48: by Sera (new)

Sera | 195 comments I loved the The Joy Luck Club movie, too. I thought that Oliver Stone captured the book, perfectly. I agree that there is not as much emphasis on traditions between mothers and daughters in the US. I also don't think that mothers get enough credit for the positive things that they do for their children, and especially their daughters. We have such a "bad mom" attitude in this country, in my opinion.

message 49: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 141 comments Mod
I often think of The Joy Luck Club when I'm watching Gilmore Girls. One thing that was illustrated in The Joy Luck Club was the way moms and daughters see things from different perspectives. Frequently each is trying to please the other but feels like they are failing in the eyes of the other. That dynamic is often present with Lorelai and her mother.

message 50: by Meghan (new)

Meghan | 423 comments Mod
The thing about this book, as well as Joy Luck Club (and other Chinese stories for that matter) are the relationships between women. I love the idea of having another woman who just "gets" you, who will share your past and your future. Someone who will laugh and cry over things that are decidedly female. I think that kind of friendship is not as easily found in modern times. We're so busy rushing off to work or soccer practice or various chores around the home that we too often fail to make the time to connect with our friends.

To me, it explains why Sex and the City was so popular. It wasn't as much the clothes/shoes or the sex but rather 4 women getting together and sharing something special.

I think it's also why Gilmore Girls resonated with so many girls/women. Guys can appreciate the smart writing, but I think we all want (and for some, grateful to have) the type of relationships between mother/daughter or friends (Lorelai/Sookie, Rory/Lane).

But back to this book, would we view our monthly "visitor" as a "curse" if we continued to rejoice in our ability to create life? Granted back in this time, survival was so important considering the infant mortality rate. But I think there was some basic joy in the knowledge that you, as a woman, were able to procreate. And in this story, to be able to celebrate that with your girlfriends makes it all the more special.

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