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The Red Tent
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2015 Finished Reads Discussions > November Monthly Read- The Red Tent

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message 1: by Katherine, Monthly Group Reads (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katherine | 464 comments Mod
Discuss The Red Tent here!!!

Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. Told in Dinah's voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood--the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of her mothers--Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah--the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through a hard-working youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past. Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of biblical women's society.


ZaraS  *book reviewer I read this book awhile ago and loved it. Hope everyone enjoys it too.


message 3: by Katherine, Monthly Group Reads (last edited Nov 01, 2014 12:15PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katherine | 464 comments Mod
Here are some discussion questions to start a conversation.

1.Discuss the marital dynamics of Jacob's family. He has four wives; compare his relationship with each woman.

2. What do you make of the relationship among the four wives?

3. Dinah is rich in "mothers". Discuss the differences or similarities in her relationship with each woman.

4. Childbearing and childbirth are central in The Red Tent. How do the fertility, childbearing, and birthing practices differ from contemporary life? How are they similar? How do they compare with your own experiences, if any, as a mother or father?

5. Discuss Jacob's role as a father. Does he treat Dinah differently from his sons? Does he feel differently about her? If so, how?

6. Discuss Dinah's twelve brothers. Discuss their relationships with one another, with Dinah, and with Jacob and his four wives. Are they a close family?

7. Female relationships figure largely in The Red Tent. Discuss the importance of Inna, Tabea, Werenro, and Meryt.

8. In the novel, Rebecca is presented as an Oracle. Goddesses are venerated along with gods. What do you think of this culture, in which he Feminine has not yet been totally divorced from the Divine? How does El, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, fit into this?

9. Dinah's point of view is often one of an outsider, an observer. What effect does this have on the narrative? What effect does this have on the reader?

10. The book travels from Haran (contemporary Iraq/Syria), through Canaan and into Shechem (Israel), and into Egypt. What strikes you about the cultural differences Dinah encounters vis-à-vis food, clothing, work, and male-female relationships?

11. In the Red Tent, we see Dinah grow from childhood to old age. Discuss how she changes and matures. What lessons does she learn from life? If you had to pick a single word to describe the sum of her life, what word would you choose? How would Dinah describe her own life?

12. Lifetime has adapted The Red Tent into a miniseries that will be airing Dec. 7th and 8th, starring Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting, About a Boy), Debra Winger (Terms of Endearment), Morena Baccarin (Homeland), and Rebecca Ferguson (The White Queen). Do you think Lifetime will do the book justice? Will you be tuning in?

Trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sn7sl...


Connie Mayo | 6 comments Really great trailer - the music in particular made this very compelling. I actually put this on my calendar to watch on Dec 7, and I am not normally a Lifetime channel watcher.


message 5: by Katherine, Monthly Group Reads (last edited Nov 01, 2014 02:00PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katherine | 464 comments Mod
Connie wrote: "Really great trailer - the music in particular made this very compelling. I actually put this on my calendar to watch on Dec 7, and I am not normally a Lifetime channel watcher."

I love the music as well!! I'm cautiously optimistic about this; Lifetime has considerably gotten better in its scripted programming. And with the high caliber of talent, it sounds like it will be great.


message 6: by Nancy (new)

Nancy (bosco1) | 1 comments I read this book for one of the first book groups I ever attended. The group of women I was with had all recently had children. Although I only knew one or two of them, the story resonated so strongly with us that after several hours of digesting it together, we felt like life long friends. I am looking forward to reading it again , 13 years later , and seeing what affect this story has on me today.


Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition I have read this book twice, but will gladly read it again. It's been a few years, so I don't remember everything exactly. The funny thing is, I was in a bible study about women in the bible and I found myself quoting this story instead of the one in the Bible!


message 8: by Katherine, Monthly Group Reads (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katherine | 464 comments Mod
Glad to hear Terry!!


Connie Mayo | 6 comments Read this initially when it came out, now rereading and on Chapter 2. First reaction: I forgot there was so much fornicating with animals.


message 10: by Katherine, Monthly Group Reads (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katherine | 464 comments Mod
Animal fornication?? Oh my, this sounds... interesting. I'm starting this one today, so we'll see what happens.


Connie Mayo | 6 comments So I'm on about page 90, and it occurs to me that in a certain sense, not much has happened. It's all backstory, most of it before the narrator is even born. The major conflict - Rachel seems barren, Leah is fertile, will the fur fly? - is not very suspenseful if you have seen the family tree in the front of the book. Now on page 90 there is discussion of leaving the place where the sisters have grown up, so I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next (can't remember from my reading it all those years ago). But the first 90 pages were interesting nonetheless. I wonder if the backstory gets a "pass" because it's an imagining of biblical characters? Would we have patience for all those kids being born if they weren't in the bible?


message 12: by Katherine, Monthly Group Reads (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katherine | 464 comments Mod
My first impression? SO. MANY. CHILDREN. In such a short span of time, nonetheless. It makes me tired just thinking about it, LOL!!

It's been interesting to see how each wife acts differently with Jacob and with each other. Leah is by far the practical, no nonsense one. Rachel is by far the favorite of Jacob's wives Zilphah is the most spiritual, and Bilhah is the most childlike. I think he does love and care for all of them in his own way, but it must have been awfully hard to love four wives equally.


Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition That was the thing - Jacob didn't love the four wives equally. Rachel was the love of his life, but he was also practical. Rachel didn't produce the sons he needed and Leah did.
I feel a little bad for Leah, she did as she was told by her father, she produced sons for Jacob and ran the farm & househould efficiently, but was kind of taken for granted. Rachel was kind of mean to Leah and a little deceitful, but was favored by her father and Jacob.


message 14: by Katherine, Monthly Group Reads (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katherine | 464 comments Mod
Terry wrote: "That was the thing - Jacob didn't love the four wives equally. Rachel was the love of his life, but he was also practical. Rachel didn't produce the sons he needed and Leah did.
I feel a little ba..."


In regards to that, I do have to agree with your statement. Leah was certainly taken for granted not just by Jacob, but by her other sister wives as well.

I think he had the worst relationship with Zilphah. She wasn't particularly pleased to be married to him in the first place, and it just seemed to go downhill from there. Out of all the wives, she was the one I liked the least.


Connie Mayo | 6 comments I brought The Red Tent with me to read today while I got a pedicure, and it occurred to me that you might think of the nail salon as the modern day Red Tent. :)


Michellea | 4 comments I wonder if it was that Jacob didn't love the four wives equally or that his relationship with each woman represented the different phases of men and women in love.

I'm only 1/3 way through the book- so my ideas may shift. But this morning I'm thinking about when I first met my husband-- he immediately felt a connection to me (from across the bar) after noticing something he would have called external beauty (Rachel). Then there were the years I worked to keep the home, raise the kids. Often, I felt that the organization, thought, and effort it took to keep the family home run seamlessly was behind the scenes and completely unappreciated (Leah). In there, in the peaks and valleys of long-term relationships, there were moments when we just accepted our duties and marched on even thought we didn't 'feel'like it (Zilpah). There were also beautiful moments of simple freedom-or acceptance-- just letting go for the moment (Bilhah). I don't know. It's not a fully developed thought.. but it's what I'm thinking about...


Connie Mayo | 6 comments Michellea, do you think Diamant was trying to represent the different aspects of a singular person being a wife and mother by dividing them between the four wives?
Cool!


Michellea | 4 comments I have no idea if that was her intent. But it's how I feel the dynamics of their relationships are playing out so far...


message 19: by Katherine, Monthly Group Reads (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katherine | 464 comments Mod
Ooh I never thought about it that way before. Great theory!!!

I have to say, I'm really enjoying this book!!


message 20: by Katherine, Monthly Group Reads (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katherine | 464 comments Mod
I've also noticed that Jacob's different relationships with his wives also extends to his sons.

Obviously, Joseph is his favorite son because Rachel is his favorite wife. He seems to depend on (but not quite appreciate) Leah's sons heavily, just like he depends on Leah to run the camp efficiently. Bilhah's son doesn't make all that much of an appearance, just like Bilhah seems to be the "forgotten wife". And Zilphah's sons are the most eccentric, like their mother.


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