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..

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Teaser Tuesdays: July 14, 2009

Miz B and Teaser Tuesdays asks you to: Grab your current read. Let the book fall open to a random page. Share with us two (2) sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12. You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

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My teaser comes from The Red Tent by Anita Diamant,  page 65.

“My mother told me that after the birth of her twin sons, she decided to finish with childbearing.  Her breasts were those of an old woman, her belly was slack, and her back ached every morning.”

I’m just starting this book today but I’ve had it in the stack for a year and a half.  I’m really excited to start it.

Any mothers out there care to comment on the teaser??

The Sunday Salon

Wow, it’s been hot here in Southern California.  Our normal June Gloom is nowhere to be found.  

My daughter is going to summer camp tomorrow for 9 days.  Her bags are packed and she’s ready to go. It’s a Girl Scout camp 100 miles away from home, and she will be in the horse unit this year; grooming, feeding, and riding horses, and mucking out stalls (blech!), but she loves it all.  She’s most excited about trail riding, which she hasn’t done too much of in the past.  The camp had an Open House yesterday, so we all went up there to see it, even though the girls went to camp last year.  They wanted to show us what cabins they were in and tell us different things they did.  Plus this is my daughter’s first year in the horse area, so we wanted to see that.  I stuck this book into her duffle bag just in case she has any time to read.  It’s about a brave 10 year old girl, and I want her to be brave at camp!  I think she’ll like it.

I had lots of reading time on the way to the Open House and back.  I just finished Karen Harrington’s Janeology Friday (the review will be written soon!), and literally minutes after turning the last page, a package from Hyperion arrived on my doorstep with two new ARCs, House and Home by Kathleen McCleary and Sweetsmoke by David Fuller.  Even though I have a huge TBR pile, on our way out the door to the camp I grabbed House and Home.  There was some grumbling from The Red Tent and A Thousand Splendid Suns, who have been in the TBR stack for months, but House and Home had an appealing cover (the ARC has a completely different cover than the one shown here-blue with a box of wooden matches- and a picture of a house on the box) and the blurb on the back sounded really interesting.  And it was!  I read it straight through in one day.  It was terrific.  The author is a reporter and writer for HGTV, Good Housekeeping, and The New York Times. This is her first novel, and I was floored not only by the excellent writing, but how many parallels there were to my own life.  House and Home is set to be released July 1st, and I’ll write that review soon, too.  This is one I’ll be telling my friends about.

I started another book today while my kids swam in my mom’s pool.  For once it’s not an ARC or a book for review, but one that I’ve had sitting around awhile (since Christmas, actually).  Has anyone read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott?  It is subtitled “Some instructions on writing and life”.  Well, who doesn’t need that??  I’ve only made it through the introduction and the first two chapters, but I’m hooked.  Funny, smart, and unpredictable is the way I’d describe it so far.  It’s one I don’t want to fly through, but rather savor and think about.  The TBR stack (“pick me!  pick me!”) will just have to hush for awhile.

With one daughter at camp and the other one a little lonely and clingy, it will be an interesting week.  My younger one will miss her sister, even though she insists that she won’t, so I plan to keep her busy.  She’ll be attending Vacation Bible School in the mornings and swim lessons at the high school with her “friend who’s a boy” in the afternoons.  The less time she has to complain about boredom, the better!

Oh, just a reminder about my June giveaway:  Leave a comment HERE by June 30th to win a copy of Mrs. Lieutenant.

What are you reading this week?