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316 of 338 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The red tent
It would appear that any book about interesting and perhaps unusual women generates much controversy among its readership ("Bitter Grounds" and "The Poisonwood Bible" come to mind). This book is no different. The Red Tent is loosely based on the Biblical story of Dinah, but it is a novel, not fact, even though it may be based in fact. Diamant...
Published on February 5, 2000

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117 of 134 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good book that may be too radical for some
First of all, I am very disappointed that Amazon posted reviews that spoil the ending of the book. The great mystery this book purports to answer is what happened to Dinah after her rape. Did she ever find love and/or happiness, and if so how? Some of the reviews here give away those plot points, and diminished my enjoyment of the novel.
Second, comparisons to...
Published on March 10, 2000 by Elisabeth Riba


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316 of 338 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The red tent, February 5, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Red Tent (Paperback)
It would appear that any book about interesting and perhaps unusual women generates much controversy among its readership ("Bitter Grounds" and "The Poisonwood Bible" come to mind). This book is no different. The Red Tent is loosely based on the Biblical story of Dinah, but it is a novel, not fact, even though it may be based in fact. Diamant even takes liberties with the Dinah story as it appears in Genesis in the Bible. However, it does appear to be thoroughly researched -- I found myself equally fascinated by descriptions of life during Biblical times as by the lives of the characters in the book. Unlike some of the other reviewers I didn't find this book to be anti-male. I and many women I know lead very different lives from our men and we too see them in a completely different light than they see themselves. We often laugh at them or paint them in an unflattering light, despite the fact that we love them. We are not, however, anti-male, just human and female. I suspect men amongst themselves discuss women in much the same way. I personally found this book full of thoughts and ideas that touched me deeply, especially since I am 40 years old, have had several children and have lived in foreign countries. Perhaps much younger people would have trouble identifiying some of the "human condition" scenarios in the book -- I don't know. Regardless, I have wholeheartedly recommended this book to several people and recommend it to you.
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124 of 132 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing tale!, January 3, 2001
By 
M. Desoer (Bay Area, California) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Red Tent (Paperback)
This is, by far, one of the best books I have read in a long time, leaving me sorry that it was over. The writing is beautiful in its depiction of life, from the women's point of view, about 4000 years ago. It was so incredibly moving that I found myself in tears at several times -- something that does not happen often!
This tale is a possible story of the life of Jacob's daughter, Dinah, who barely is mentioned in the Old Testament. It starts with a recounting of Jacob's marriages to Dinah's mother, and her mother's three sisters, the births of the resulting children, and Dinah's youth, learning at her "mothers'" sides. It continues with Jacob's departure with his family and flocks from the lands of his father-in-law, and follows Dinah through her death. I don't want to say any more, because it would ruin the story.
The author does not suggest that this is the "real" story, or a "supplement" to the Bible. It is not a religious book, per se, but does discuss the God of Jacob's father and, in contrast, the multitude of gods worshipped by other cultures of the time. The story is meant to provide a possible tale of an otherwise minor character, and affords a glimpse into the women's world of that time, not usually covered in the Bible.
I cannot recommend this book more highly.
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91 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rebuttal to May19th Review from Seattle, June 7, 2000
This review is from: The Red Tent (Paperback)
I would like to take a moment to address some of the complaints made in the May 19th review. I did not experience THE RED TENT as male bashing. It's intent was to take a female view of the major women of the Old Testament and to breathe life into them. It is "over endowed" with a female viewpoint as a counterbalance to the bible's male view. Women in the BIBLE were often hardly more than property, so it is not too surprising that a fictionalized female character from this period might see men somewhat differently then we do. The BIBLE does portray Laban as a pretty disagreeable character, but in this book Jacob is portrayed as a tragic figure, not a negative figure. He is not the cause of the terrible massacre, but assumes the guilt of his tribe. Until then he is a respected male figure in the book. The women have their weak points as well. Rachel is vain, and the grandmother, Rebecca is a formidable figure of both arrogance and power. Isaac's trauma as a child, being nearly slaughtered by his own father, was treated with compassion. Diamant has Dinah speak of this trauma and how it left Isaac with a stutter for the rest of his life. Some of the women are weak in a way that makes them disagreeable. The carpenter husband of Dinah, Benia, is a truly admirable and loveable male figure and her young husband, the prince Shalem, slaughtered at the hands of her brothers, is as gentle and romantic a young man as you could want.
As to the continual reference to pregnancies and childbirth, I believe this had a deliberate intent. During biblical times, childbearing is what gave women power. It is natural to assume that women of that period would indeed be obssessed with their own ability to bring children into the world - especially women of strength who would be able determine ways to use that ability to some advantage. The very nature of the Red Tent, was that it bonded women in a way that as a group gave them more leverage. Their "mysterious" ways were kept from the men who were somewhat fearful of their rituals and knowledge of childbearing. This was a woman's main source of power in a life that was in many ways powerless. Being a mid wife was as close to a career as a woman could have and it commanded respect from everyone. You have to remember that men and women did lead very separare lives at that time. Another source of power, still "mysterious" to men, was the role of a priestess and ordainer. Rebecca had this role down to a science in order to insure her place of distinction in the ancient world. I present these ideas as a difference of opinion to the previous reviewer, who is of course entitled to her opinion. I had my book group meeting last night and our book of discussion was THE RED TENT, so these themes were very much on my mind and I felt compelled to respond.
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345 of 387 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I would give it many more than five stars, July 30, 2000
This review is from: The Red Tent (Paperback)
First of all let me say that I absolutely loved The Red Tent. It's based on a character, Dinah, who is mentioned in passing in the old testament. Diamant has created a wonderful story about the women of biblical times, our fore-mothers Rebecca, Sarah, Rachel, and Leah, from Dinah's point of view.
You do not have to be familiar with the bible to enjoy this novel, although if you are, you'll certainly recognize stories and characters. It's about the strength of women, their roles in a male dominated religious society, and their all important relationships.
Although I was eager to read this book, I didn't expect it to have such an impact on me, nor did I expect to love it as much as I did. Highly recommended.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A slice of history from biblical times, October 20, 2000
This review is from: The Red Tent: A Novel (Hardcover)
In spite of four wives and numerous sons, Jacob's only daughter is Dinah, revered and even spoiled by four mothers. The heritage of the Jews is told through the female. Thus, it is Dinah's lot to pass on the stories of her mothers and grandmothers for the next generation to revere.

Dinah begins the tales of her four mothers with the appearance of Jacob in the land of Laban. Over the years, Jacob marries Rachel, Leah, Zilpah, and Bilhah. Mostly, in the "red tent" where the women go to have their female cycles, Dinah learns what is expected of a Jewish woman. She explains their trip to Canaan, the strange meeting between Jacob and his estrange brother Esau, and her own rite of passage into Jewish womanhood. Finally, Dinah falls in love, but that leads to tragedy for her and a need to escape from her family.

THE RED TENT is a fabulous biblical fiction novel that provides a full life to a footnote character in the Old Testament. Purists will take exception to Anita Diamant's liberties with other persona such as Joseph and Leah (even if her description makes them seem more real and complete). However, that aside, strict believers need simply pass on this fictional account that provides an intriguing look at the role of the Ancient Jewish woman. Anyone who enjoyed the QUEENMAKER by India Edghill will fully relish Ms. Diamont's loose, but seemingly feasible, intelligent and entertaining interpretation of the role of a minor biblical player.

Harriet Klausner
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117 of 134 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good book that may be too radical for some, March 10, 2000
By 
This review is from: The Red Tent (Paperback)
First of all, I am very disappointed that Amazon posted reviews that spoil the ending of the book. The great mystery this book purports to answer is what happened to Dinah after her rape. Did she ever find love and/or happiness, and if so how? Some of the reviews here give away those plot points, and diminished my enjoyment of the novel.
Second, comparisons to "Mists of Avalon" are very apt. This is a retelling of a classic story from a woman's point of view. However, unlike "Mists" or "Firebrand" the story being retold is central to major world religions. Readers have a lot more invested in the portrayal of Biblical characters than in Arthurian Britain or ancient Troy.
BE FOREWARNED. These are not the matriarchs you grew up with. They do not worship the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In the Bible, Rachel & Leah's father worshipped idols, and the women in "The Red Tent" never convert to Jacob's faith. IF THIS DISTURBS YOU, YOU MAY WANT TO SKIP THIS BOOK. I think that's where many of the negative reviews are coming from. Compare Mists of Avalon with Sword & the Stone and earlier Arthurian stories -- this is just as radical a revision. If you're not prepared for that, stay away. Frankly, I'm still a bit bothered by the concept of non-Jewish matriarchs. But the fact that I'm still mulling over my reactions a week after I finished shows how powerful the book is.
The book presents a rich portrayal of the historical period. Diamant did a lot of research into daily life and paints a very vivid world. Frankly, I find Dinah a less interesting character than the matriarchs -- Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah. While Dinah is supposedly the focus, she was a minor character originally, so there's not much background. However, we already have a wealth of stories about the matriarchs, so those stories become all the more fascinating when compared to that background. [The motives behind the Leah/Rachel switch at Jacob's wedding, for example.]
It's a very good book. I won't say it's a great book, because I am still disturbed by parts, but it's definitely a powerful story.
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49 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vividly Fresh Life for a tired, old, and mundane story!, May 6, 2001
By 
This review is from: The Red Tent (Paperback)
If you are one of those people who tries to take the Old Testament literally, you won't want to read this book. But if you seek to find more meaning, more human qualities to this religious classic, this is definitely the novel for you!
Throughout the Bible, women are rarely mentioned (except for being the mother of this or that male character). For most women, the question arises -- what really happended in the lives of these biblical women? And I think for people everywhere -- were the lives of these people really so colorless?
The Red Tent explores the lives of the wives and daughters of the Bible's Jacob. Told from the vantage point of Jacob's only daughter, Dinah (pronounced Dee-nah), this book brings the last half of the book of Genesis to life.
During the first half of this novel, the author draws you into the intimate details of the lives of 5 women - Dinah, and her four mothers. (As was common in the time, Jacob has 4 wives - all the daughters of his uncle, Laban.) The women struggle through the full range of emotions for one another, from love to jealousy, and back to loyalty once more.
Mid-book, the tone of the book completely changes as the events of the story tear these women's lives apart. As Dinah suffers and becomes distant to the world, so the author makes you distant to the characters. This makes the last half of the book less enjoyable than the first, but without it, the reader would never find closure and would always be asking - but what about Joseph and is Dinah ever reconciled with her family?
After reading this story, my curiousity was piqued and I felt the need to refresh my memory of the Biblical version. It is interesting to note how the author took the basic details and expounded into an amazing narrative of what might have happened. The next time I pick up my NIV, I will strain to see new meaning between the lines of these age old stories. (I am also curious to know how Ms. Diamont got her ideas for this story -- this is never revealed in the book!!)
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53 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an engrossing story with compelling characters., February 9, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Red Tent (Paperback)
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant is an engrossing, well-researched story with compelling and believable characters. It is especially gratifying to find a sympathetic, detailed, and believable account of an Old Testament woman's life set in this era and part of the world. The story is told from the point of view of Dinah, daughter of Jacob, a successful nomadic sheep-herder. She is raised by four different women, all wives of Jacob and becomes a midwife. Through an intriguing and dramatic turn of the plot, she ends up in Egypt. The book was a pleasure for even this non-religious feminist to read. The images are riveting. The characters are memorable. I wish I were a screenwriter because the Red Tent would make a wonderful movie.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The kind of novel I'd love to write, June 20, 2000
This review is from: The Red Tent: A Novel (Hardcover)
The Red Tent is one of the best historical novels I've read in something like 10 years. I don't think its as good as Mists of Avalon, by MZB: Actually, I think its much better, because it is more daring in the revisionist, feminist stance it takes. And yet, it does what only the best novels in any genre do, it draws the reader deftly into a different reality, a 'dream' making that dream live and breathe. If I were going to make a positive comparisons it would be to the fictional explorations of ancient Greek life, myth,and legend by Mary Renault and to the more recent fantasy works of Guy Gavriel Kay, because of the clear, vividly painted prose images all three of these novelists evoke. I have recommended this book to many of my friends, and would to almost any lover of historical fiction, especially those who are open to seeing a 'familiar' story in a new way. Ms Diamant draws us into an understanding of the 'foremothers' of Judaism, of how women's lives were both separate from men's in that culture,and of how deeply they were interwoven. I am in her debt for that understanding, and for the very enjoyable read she gave me in the process.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an excellent read, December 7, 2000
By A Customer
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This review is from: The Red Tent (Paperback)
I must admit, this book is not for everyone. However, if you enjoy reading about women's life-stories, coming-of-age tales, or the bible from a "real-person's" point of view...this is an excellent saga of one fairly mysterious figure mentioned only briefly in the old testament as a person of tragedy. We know so little of Dinah from the OT...but Anita Diamant brings her flesh, blood, and soul in a believable manner. I don't believe that the average male would enjoy this book, though, since its main focus is the cycle of women's lives involving the red tent, the place women reside when subject to the consequences of being the sex responsible for bringing forth life. Usually deemed unclean in OT translations, this book shows a special significance and sisterhood that likely bound women together to survive such a gratifying, and often dangerous, existence. However the message is not tedious...the book also follows Dinah's long life after the red tent and her tragedy in the OT.
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The Red Tent
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (Paperback - September 15, 1998)
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