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The Red Tent - 20th Anniversary Edition: A Novel Paperback – August 21, 2007
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
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“Diamant vividly conjures up the ancient world of caravans, shepherds, farmers, midwives, slaves, and artisans....Her Dinah is a compelling narrator that has timeless resonance.” ―Merle Rubin, The Christian Science Monitor
“A full-bodied novel.” ―Susan Adler, Hadassah magazine
About the Author
Anita Diamant is an award-winning journalist and author of six books about contemporary Jewish life, including The New Jewish Wedding and Choosing a Jewish Life. Her works of fiction include Good Harbor and The Last Days of Dogtown. She lives in Massachusetts.
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Many thoughtful reviews have already been posted. I will affirm that it was wonderful to read this story, told from the point of view of the women. In those times, women were treated as chattel and the only power they had was that of producing sons. They claimed that power, and it was fascinating. I also liked the portrayal of the community of women and what they brought to the family economy, I hope that part is "true."
I love the historical fiction quality of the book. The alternative perspectives from Biblical literalism is a relief. The alternate perspective on Dinah's "rape" is worthy of contemplation. In today's world, there are "honor killings" that sometimes occur when women have sex outside of marriage, whether it's consensual or rape. We have a modern context for seeing women who don't have self determination, whose marriages are arranged, or consent still only comes with a price. It's not that hard to see the possibility of an alternate reality for Dinah. It certainly makes for a great story. I am fascinated by the tensions and textures created by the encounters with people of differing beliefs, the women practicing the old ways, those who don't, the paganism, those following the God of Abraham, and then the Egyptians. It is interesting to follow how those beliefs color their lives and how they interact with people of differing beliefs. One can also experience that in the reviews here on Amazon!
I do not find the story anti-male or anti-Bible. When one recalls that men had all the power, then tragic use of power is on the men. But other aspects of power appear in the encounters between the shepherd and the king, and Dinah amongst the Egyptians, etc. The tensions of religion and culture and social position within the tribe and beyond are part of the story.
I've tried to write without spoilers. It's a great book. One can be a person of faith without being insulted by a single syllable in this book. Criticisms from 2000 are interesting, but I think that time is on the side of deep appreciation for The Red Tent.
As a feminist, my heart jumped as the story of these great women was finally told -believably, in their imperfections. I hurt for the characters, and painfully thrill that this story could hold many truths, despite its fictions. I don't pretend that this is not a fictional novel, but instead no longer pretend that there is not much unsaid in the Biblical Word. What is between the lines is the story of the world, and with it the story of the women, the slaves, the other -the marginalized. Should I meet Dinah in Heaven one day, I will enjoy splashing my feet in the river bank with her as she tells me all that went on between the lines.
As a reader and a writer, I weigh my multiple strong reactions to this story -both positive and negative as proof that this is a book that must be read - should be prized - whether loved or despised - amongst the best of our time.
I did find it a bit long-winded in places and switched to speed-reading whereas I normally like to "savor" the literature that I read.
I still enjoyed the book and have recommended it to my book club