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Book Review: The Red Tent

4 May 2008

The Red Tent

The Red Tent
by Anita Diamant

I bought this book only because it was on sale at my local bookstore and I remember seeing it on Oprah’s Bookclub a while back. The cover alone would have made me run in the opposite direction.

The Red Tent is a fictional story based on characters from the Biblical story of Jacob. It focuses on Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter, and weaves a fascinating tale about her mothers, her family, her culture, her journey into adulthood, from Canaan to Egypt.

Its themes revolve around the “red tent”, the place where women go during menstruation, child birth and illness – where bonds are created between sisters, mothers and daughters.

Considering that the actual story of Jacob and his family consisted of only a few paragraphs in the Bible, I was rather impressed that the author managed to flesh out whole characters, plots, and themes with such richness and colour. She has a vivid imagination.

In fact, the whole story was so completely fabricated, that it was actually quite interesting, engaging and entertaining.

I enjoyed how she brought to life old testament Mesopotamian and Egyptian way of life. It was fascinating to read about another culture, even if it was fiction or not. The book is written well, easy to read, chuffs along at a good speed, I finished it in a week.

I must point out that there are a LOT of Biblical inaccuracies, questionable cultural facts and objectionable portrayals of men. But I wasn’t insulted or offended by any of it, I just enjoyed the fiction for what it was – a pretty good story.

I was light-heartedly trying to “push” this book onto some male friends of mine, but I failed miserably.

Realistically, this BOOK IS FOR WOMEN. It’s all about periods, mothers, midwifery, childbirth, babies, dying babies, dying mothers and the cycles of life. Consider yourself warned.

But having said that, I was struck by many stunning scenes and ideas (about the aforementioned), and I know they will stick in my head for a long time to come.

I recommend it. To women only.