Reviews for Red Tent


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 October 1997
/*Starred Review*/ The story of Dinah is one of the most shocking in the Bible. The only daughter of Jacob is raped by a Canaanite prince, and in revenge, Jacob's sons trick the Canaanites and murder them. Here Diamant gives the ever-silent Dinah her own voice, and the story she tells is a much different one, one in which she is not raped but loved by the Canaanite--and then cruelly betrayed by her brothers. This is also a saga of women, of Dinah and her four mothers, Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah, the wives of Jacob, who all raised her. The women of Jacob's family live the most important parts of their lives in the red tent, where women go once a month, where they have their babies, and where they tell their stories. In the Bible, emphasis is placed, above all, on the importance of bearing sons, but as Diamant tells it, "Women wanted daughters to keep their memories alive," and this novel is rich with memory. Diamant is a wonderful storyteller, not only bringing to life these women about whom the Bible tells us so little but also stirringly evoking a place and time. As with the best writers of historical fiction, Diamant makes readers see there's not so very much difference between people across the eons, at least when it comes to trial and tragedy, happiness and love. ((Reviewed October 1, 1997)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Library Journal Reviews 1997 June
Diamant's fictionalized account of Dinah, a tangential figure from the Book of Genesis long ignored by biblical scholars, will receive a hefty 75,000-copy first printing. Copyright 1997 Cahners Business Information.

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Library Journal Reviews 1997 September
Skillfully interweaving biblical tales with events and characters of her own invention, Diamant's (Living a Jewish Life, HarperCollins, 1991) sweeping first novel re-creates the life of Dinah, daughter of Leah and Jacob, from her birth and happy childhood in Mesopotamia through her years in Canaan and death in Egypt. When Dinah reaches puberty and enters the Red Tent (the place women visit to give birth or have their monthly periods), her mother and Jacob's three other wives initiate her into the religious and sexual practices of the tribe. Diamant sympathetically describes Dinah's doomed relationship with Shalem, son of a ruler of Shechem, and his brutal death at the hands of her brothers. Following the events in Canaan, a pregnant Dinah travels to Egypt, where she becomes a noted midwife. Diamant has written a thoroughly enjoyable and illuminating portrait of a fascinating woman and the life she might have lived. Recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/97.] Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle Copyright 1998 Library Journal Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1997 August #3
A minor character from the book of Genesis tells her life story in this vivid evocation of the world of Old Testament women. The only surviving daughter of Jacob and Leah, Dinah occupies a far different world from the flocks and business deals of her brothers. She learns from her Aunt Rachel the mysteries of midwifery and from her other aunts the art of homemaking. Most important, Dinah learns and preserves the stories and traditions of her family, which she shares with the reader in touchingly intimate detail. Familiar passages from the Bible come alive as Dinah fills in what the Bible leaves out concerning Jacob's courtship of Rachel and Leah, her own ill-fated sojourn in the city of Sechem and her half-brother Joseph's rise to fame and fortune in Egypt. After several nonfiction works on Judaism (Living a Jewish Life, etc.), Diamant's fiction debut links the passions of the early Israelites to the ongoing traditions of modern Jews, while the red tent of her title (where women retreat for menstruation, childbirth and illness) becomes a resonant symbol of womanly strength, love and wisdom. Despite a few unprofitable digressions, Diamant succeeds admirably in depicting the lives of women in the age that engendered our civilization and our most enduring values. (Oct.) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

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