The Red Tent
Although The Red Tent was published years ago and my Reading Friends encouraged me to read it, I never did. Recently, I borrowed the book from a New Friend (a delightful and spiritual friend) and can’t imagine why I had passed it by all these years (The Red Tent was first published in 1997).
Anita Diamant did her research about the Jewish culture and daily life. It was a great read. James Carroll (author of An American Requiem) writes that “The oldest story of all could never seem more original, or more true.”
An excerpt, describing Dinah’s grandmother, Rebecca, wife to Isaac and mother of Jacob:
I do not remember my father’s formal greeting or the ceremony to present my brothers, one by one, and then the gifts, and finally my mothers and me. I saw only her. The Grandmother–my grandmother. She was the oldest person I had ever seen. Her years proclaimed themselves in the deep furrows on her brow and around her mouth, but the beauty of youth still clung to her. She stood as erect as Reuben and nearly as tall. Her black eyes were clear and sharp, painted in the Egyptian style–a pattern of heavy black kohl that made her appear all-seeing. Her robes were purple–the color of royalty and holiness and wealth. her head covering was long and black, shot through with gold threads, providing the illusion of luxurious hair, where in fact only a few gray strands were left to her.
The book is fiction as Anita Diamant tells readers; however, Diamant has studied Jewish culture and history and her descriptions are quite vivid. The ‘red tent’ itself is a piece of fiction that the author invented, an illustration of the separation of women.
Susan Jaslow, in her review of the book, writes:
The story is fiction, and while it differs from the scriptural account in many ways, it was true to the essence. There are two very marked differences, one of which I won’t reveal. The other is that Dinah doesn’t disappear after the events at Shechem, as she does in scripture.
I think that anyone interested in either religious or social history would find this book fascinating. I found it involving and evocative. I liked all of the characters, except for those who were decidedly unlikeable, and would most enthusiastically recommend it. It’s a heck of a good read.
Anita Diamant, the daughter of two Holocaust survivors, was born on June 27, 1951, in New York City. She spent much of her early childhood in Newark, New Jersey, before moving to Denver, Colorado, at age twelve. She attended the University of Colorado for two years, then transferred to Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where she received a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature in 1973. She went on to earn a master’s degree in English from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1975. She settled just outside Boston, where she lives with her husband and teenaged daughter, Emilia.
Diamant began her career as a freelance journalist in the Boston area in 1975. Over the years, she has written for local, regional and national magazines and newspapers, including the Boston Phoenix, the Boston Globe, and Boston Magazine, as well as New England Monthly, Yankee, Self, Parenting, Parents, McCalls, and Ms. In 1985, she began writing about contemporary Jewish practice and the Jewish community, publishing articles in Reform Judaism magazine, in Hadassah magazine, and on the webzine http://www.jewishfamily.com. She has also written seven handbooks on contemporary Jewish life and lifecycle events.