Summary and book reviews of The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

The Red Tent

by Anita Diamant

The Red Tent
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  • First Published:
    Sep 1997, 321 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 1998, 321 pages

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Book Summary

In the Bible, Dinah's life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. In The Red Tent Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history to create an intimate, immediate connection.

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 are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. Told in Dinah's voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood - the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of her mothers - Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah - the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that are to sustain her through a damaged youth, 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, immediate connection.

Prologue

We have been lost to each other for so long.

My name means nothing to you. My memory is dust.

This is not your fault, or mine. The chain connecting mother to daughter was broken and the word passed to the keeping of men, who had no way of knowing. That is why I became a footnote, my story a brief detour between the well-known history of my father, Jacob, and the celebrated chronicle of Joseph, my brother. On those rare occasions when I was remembered, it was as a victim. Near the beginning of your holy book, there is a passage that seems to say I was raped and continues with the bloody tale of how my honor was avenged.

It's a wonder that any mother ever called a daughter Dinah again. But some did. Maybe you guessed that there was more to me than the voiceless cipher in the text. Maybe you heard it in the music of my name: the first vowel high and clear, as when a mother calls to her child at dusk; the second sound soft, for whispering secrets on pillows. Dee-...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
The Red Tent tells the little-known Biblical story of Dinah, daughter of the patriarch Jacob and his wife, Leah. In Chapter 34 of the Book of Genesis, Dinah’s tale is a short, horrific detour in the familiar narrative of Jacob and Joseph.

Anita Diamant imaginatively tells the story from the fresh perspective of its women. In the Biblical tale Dinah is given no voice; she is the narrator of The Red Tent, which reveals the life of ancient womanhood—the world of the red tent.

Readers of The Red Tent will view the Book of Genesis in a new light. This guide can help spur creative discussions of the timeless story.


Discussion Questions:
  1. Read Genesis 34 and discuss how The Red Tent changes your perspective on Dinah’s ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

The Los Angeles Times

By giving a voice to Dinah...the novel has struck a chord with women who may have felt left out of biblical history.

Philadelphia Inquirer

A novel well worth reading!...very rich and fulfilling.

Kirkus Reviews

With stirring scenery and a narrative of force and color, a readable tale marked by hortatory fulminations and voluptuous lamentations. For a liberal Bible audience with a possible spillover to the Bradley relationship.

Reader Reviews

Sarah

Great book
I thought this book was really good and well written. Even though i am not a very religious person, i still understood it and loved the story line.

chick

Chick Book
This book was given to my friend's 15 year old son as a required book to read over the summer. Very inappropriate for 15 year old boys, but I loved it. I would recommend it to any female. I just hope it isn't taken as Gospel. The story is not very...   Read More

Rachel

The Red Tent
One of my favourite books! Many novels don't seem so good the second time you read them, but this one is worth re-reading over and over. It really brings the ancient world to life. I like the way Diamant gives Jacob a realistic lifespan; Genesis is ...   Read More

Sara

This book was amazing!

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