Review: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

15201408The Red Tent by Anita Diamant is a fictional interpretation of a biblical family. Narrated by Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob and sister to his 12 sons, whose life is barely mentioned in the Book of Genesis, it is rich in stories and characters.

Vividly bringing the ancient world to life, The Red Tent is filled with dust and shepherds and caravans and slaves. Diamant shares the joys, sorrows, and traditions of women in the world of the red tent, a haven during their menses, illnesses, and childbirth.

Dinah is loved by her four mothers, sister-wives Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah; strong women who pass down all their secrets, talents, stories, and feminine gifts to her, along with the religious and sexual practices of the tribe. Like her beautiful mother-aunt Rachel, she learns the skill of midwifery, which is instrumental to her future. Her destiny is forever changed while attending the birth of a child in the king’s house, where she falls in love with Shalem, the prince. This meeting sets into motion the events that shatter and scatter Dinah’s family, bringing shame to Jacob’s tribe but also bringing her great joy through her son, who will be raised as a prince in Egypt.

The Red Tent shows how vital female relationships and family traditions are to women, how much they enrich our lives. Diamant’s words paint a brilliantly imagined, emotionally lush world, a fascinating portrait of biblical women and the lives they might have lived.

This novel was such a satisfying read; I feel like I’ve just finished a 6 course feast after weeks of eating nothing but snacks. In the 12 years since it first came out it has become a book club favorite, so I let The Red Tent sit on my shelf for two years, hoping my book club would pick it. So far they haven’t, but I didn’t want to wait any longer.

This is historical fiction at it’s very best. I would give The Red Tent my highest recommendation. I loved it.

imagesAnita Diamant’s new book, Day After Night, is based on the true story of the rescue of 200 prisoners from an internment camp during the Holocaust and is due out in September. Visit her website HERE.

And is it just me, or does Anita Diamant look an awful lot like Ellen Degeneres?  I wonder if she’s funny..

35 Responses

  1. One of my favorite books ever. I thought it was wonderfully written.

  2. I too loved this immensely!

  3. Oh, I loved this book. I just got my copy back yesterday from my sister who has had it for over a year. Your review makes me want to re-read it immediately!

  4. This book is at the VERY top of my all time top 5 list – love love love it.

  5. I really enjoyed this one. It’s been years since I read it though. I should reread it and do a review.

  6. One of my favorites. Glad you enjoyed it too.

  7. OMG, she totally looks like Ellen! I had expected her to look more Jewish, but all I see is Ellen. How funny!

    • I know, right??? She looks less Ellen-like in other pictures, but this is the pic on my copy of the book (the 10th anniversary edition trade paperback from Picador).

  8. I’ve been waffling about reading this one – but now I’m definitely adding it to the to-read list!

  9. Great review – I too loved this book. I also read The Last Days of Dogtown, which, though very unlike The Red Tent, was a great read.

    You described The Red Tent as being filled with “dust”. I would describe The Last Days of Dogtown as “foggy” in terms of atmosphere. The cast of characters is wonderful.

  10. I also really enjoyed this book, glad to hear you did as well.😉

  11. Oh my gosh, you’ve made this book sound fabulous!

  12. I actually read this book a few years ago and didn’t enjoy it that much. Several of my friends read it and said it was GREAT but I just didn’t feel the same. I think sometimes we just read books at the wrong time. Based on your review I’m going to have to put in on my TBR pile and give it another try!

  13. I read this book 7 years ago as the very first book when I started my neighborhood book club. I had similar feelings as Kathleen (above commenter) and didn’t enjoy it as much as the rest of the book club. It may have been timing for me as well and I have been thinking I should re-read it. Your review is pushing me over the edge and I think I will do that. I wonder if my reading experience will be different?

  14. It’s been a while since I read this, but I remember that I loved it. Thanks for the reminder!

  15. excellent book

  16. I read THE RED TENT several years ago (and must have lent it out … never to return😦 ) and I remember really liking it.

    I’ll be on the lookout for DAY AFTER NIGHT in September – thanks for the heads up!

    And, yes, she could be Ellen’s twin in that pic!

  17. This one is on my list! I am also hoping one of my book clubs picks it in the near future.

  18. I really enjoyed this one too!

  19. I hoped you would love it as much as I do. I have re-read The Red Tent and discovered even more wonderful parts of the story that hadn’t sunk in the first time. Great review! Also, thanks for mentioning that Anita has a new book coming out this fall. I’m looking forward to it. Oh, and now that you mention it, Yes, Anita and Ellen do look alike!🙂

  20. wow…such high praise–you’ve piqued my interest though i typically don’t read novels like this one. i’m off to the library this morning…maybe it will be on the shelf–if so, i’ll pick it up! thanks, lisa.🙂

  21. Your review makes me want to reread this book. I’m glad you liked it. I’s one of my favorite novels.

  22. This is a truly fantastic book! When I finished it, I felt sad because I was going to miss it. Here is the link to my review: http://beastmomma.squarespace.com/from-shelf-to-hand/2007/7/19/the-red-tent-complete.html

  23. I’m so glad to hear this. It has been sitting on my shelf for over a year. I keep meaning to read it but haven’t felt the motivation. It’s just been bumped up the list. : )

  24. I read the Red Tent and loved it. This Day after Night read sounds good too!

  25. The Red Tent is excellent. I read it for the second time last year and loved it even more the second time around!

  26. I love the Red Tent. I keep very few books, but I do want to reread this one. I can’t wait for her newest one!

  27. Now I am the last person on the planet that hasn’t read this book! Will have to pull it to the top of the pile and read soon.

  28. I read this about 7 years ago, and it has been a favorite of mine ever since. I thought it was a great story and was excellently told as well. I am glad you loved it. I am hoping to get my book club to read it as well, then I can read it again.

  29. I’m Anita’s cousin and my partner and I could not put down the Red Tent until the last page. Signed proud cousin

  30. I’ve met Anita; she doesn’t look that much like Ellen IRL. She’s very nice.

  31. I think I read this when I was way too young to “get” it. I had a habit of perusing my mom’s shelves when I was little and she’d let me take whatever in the spirit of fostering a love of reading, even if it was over my head. I need to get back to it. This is a lovely review; I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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