Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Genre: Historical Fiction, Pages: 336, Reading Level: Easy
“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 tell of her father, Jacob, and his twelve sons.
Told in Dinah’s voice, Anita Diamant imagines the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood- the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of the mothers- Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah- the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through childhood, 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 lives.”
If you don’t care about the lineage, you can skip the first four paragraphs.
For those of you who read the Bible, when I tell you that The Red Tent is about the life of Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, even if you aren’t aware of Dinah, you will most likely understand who Jacob is. To give you an idea of where in history this story would fall, I’d like to give you a quick rundown of Jacob’s lineage.
Remember Abraham? He and his wife Sarah seemed to be unable to have children. So at the ripe old age of 100 for Abraham and past child-bearing years for Sarah, they had a son, Isaac. Then God commanded Abraham to make a sacrifice of his only son with Sarah. So he did, but at the last minute God stopped Abraham’s hand.
Isaac married Rebekah, who also had problems conceiving. When Isaac was 60, Rebekah gave him twins- Esau and Jacob. Isaac favored Esau while Rebekah favored Jacob. Apparently at that time, a father had only one blessing to give and had to pick his favorite. Nice, huh? Naturally, Isaac wanted to give his blessing to Esau. Rebekah tricked him into giving his blessing to Jacob instead, which was easy because Isaac had gone almost completely blind. Jacob fled out of fear.
Jacob is the one who met Rachel at a well. He went to her father, Laban, and asked to marry her. Eventually Laban agreed if Jacob would work for him for seven years. After seven years, Laban tricked Jacob by marrying him to his ugly, or eldest, daughter, Leah. Jacob worked for Laban for seven more years and then married Rachel. He also ‘married’ the other two sisters. Between his four wives, Jacob had many, many children, including Judah, who was the grandfather of King David (David and Goliath). Dinah, born to Leah, may have been Jacob’s only daughter. Dinah is King David’s great-aunt. King David ruled Israel between 1002–970 BC. So the setting of The Red Tent takes plays WAAAY before the birth of Christ.
Now to the review…
Basically, The Ted Tent is about the lives of Jacob’s wives and the women around the wives. It is told from Dinah’s viewpoint. And that’s about it. Seriously. There’s not much more to it than that.
Regardless, the book is phenomenal. Even if you do not believe in God or are not Christian, it is still a fabulous read. It is historical fiction. While there are most certainly historical inaccuracies in the book, like the red tent, it still is an interesting story about women of that time, how marriages may have been, etc. At the very least, it’s a great story. Read it as straight fiction if you like- Days of Our Red Tent, Young and the Restless in the Red Tent, whatever. And there is one really big shocker in it. It happened so fast I had to go back and re-read that part to make sure I read it correctly the first time.
One warning, it is chick lit. And when I say chick lit, I mean it is so chick lit, your husband may wish there was a red tent to send you to if you try to get him to read it. Just FYI…
Anyway, give it a try. I loved it and definitely recommend it.
Reviewed by Christina
September 21, 2013