The Red Tent

The Red Tent

4.15 (441,837 ratings by Goodreads)
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Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her fate is merely hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the verses of the "Book of Genesis" that recount the life of Jacob and his infamous dozen sons. The "Red Tent" is an extraordinary and engrossing tale of ancient womanhood and family honour. Told in Dinah's voice, it opens with the story of her mothers - the four wives of Jacob - each of whom embodies unique feminine traits, and concludes with Dinah's own startling and unforgettable story of betrayal, grief and love. Deeply affecting and intimate, "The Red Tent" combines outstandingly rich storytelling with an original insight into women's society in a fascinating period of early history and such is its warmth and candour, it is guaranteed to win the hearts and minds of women across the world. 'If you don't read it you'll be missing out' - Eve. 'I genuinely fell into this rich and colourful world and Dinah and Leah have stayed with me as ancestors and sisters brought to life by Anita Diamant's imaginative novel' - "Maureen Lipman".show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 336 pages
  • 130 x 196 x 26mm | 265g
  • Pan MacMillan
  • Pan Books
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • geneal. tables
  • 0330487965
  • 9780330487962
  • 3,440

Review quote

'If you don't read it you'll be missing out' Eve; 'I genuinely fell into this rich and colourful world and Dinah and Leah have stayed with me as ancestors and sisters brought to life by Anita Diamant's imaginative novel' Maureen Lipmanshow more

Review Text

Reclaiming women who have been historically almost invisible has been a busy literary occupation for 50 years at least, and women mentioned in the bible are a rich field for imaginative re-creation. The Book of Genesis is packed with dramatic action; human motivation, feelings and the consequences of action figure far more by implication than by description. The life of Dinah is a case in point. Dinah was the only little sister to her 12 older brothers, all sons of Jacob by four different mothers, Her own mother was Leah, the first wife whom Jacob was tricked into marrying, whereas Rachel, who became the second wife, was his true beloved. In the city of Shechem, the Bible tells us, the prince of that land 'took Dinah and lay with her' and wanted to marry her. But for the 'defilement' of their sister, the sons of Jacob took a terrible revenge on the prince and everyone in his city, then took her sister back home. She is heard of no more. The Red Tent, Anita Diamant's triumph of imaginative empathy, tells Dinah's story in her own voice. The life of the little girl, nurtured by her mothers', was filled by their stories and the learning of the female rituals demanded by their many gods. These were told repeatedly in the red tent, to which the women retreated at the time of their monthly periods, and where their babies were born. Midwives needed not only their equipment of knife, string, reeds for suction and amphorae of cumin, hyssop and mint oil, but an accumulation of skills and knowledge to ease birth agonies and avoid the frequent deaths of both babies and thier mothers. The author gives Dinah these skills. The two of the three parts of this book are taken up with the women's lives in the tents of Jacob seen through the child Dinah's eyes, and make delightful reading, rich in detail, written in finely judged, vivid language, and finding credible motivation for the deep puzzles of feeling that the Bible poses. Why did Jacob not accept the prince's offer of marriage for Dinah? How did he really feel about Leah, who bore him seven sons? When Dinah drops out of the Biblical story, the author's task of re-creation becomes much harder. After all, what future could there have been for a ruined, traumatized woman like Dinah? Diamant has envisaged another possibility. Dinah curses her family and, pregnant with the son of the murdered prince, flees to Egypt and lives out a troubled and deprived period until the author finds for her an artistically satisfying and even ultimately triumphant conclusion, when she meets the powerful Zafenat-Paneh-ah of Egypt, who is, of course, her own brother Joseph. (Kirkus UK)show more

About Anita Diamant

Anita Diamant is an award-winning journalist and author of six books about contemporary Jewish life. The Red Tent is her first novel and it has become an international bestselling phenomenon, selling over a million copies to date in America more

Rating details

441,837 ratings
4.15 out of 5 stars
5 46% (202,312)
4 33% (143,858)
3 15% (66,960)
2 4% (19,376)
1 2% (9,331)

Our customer reviews

As a lover of historical fiction, I really enjoyed this book. I loved the author's creativeness in the personalities of each character and her interpretation of the Biblical more
by Donna Meyer
I highly recommend this book, especially for book clubs with all female members! I was given this book as a gift, and so glad I read it and have recommended it to all my "sisters" in Canada and Australia. It's a tough go at first, but it's worth it, and there's lots of themes to discuss. Certainly makes you look at Biblical times in a totally different more
by Maggie Swithenbank
This book is beautiful. It is a story of hardship, love and great loss, seen through the eyes of a young girl and her transformation into a woman. As a woman reading this book you can complete relate to Dinah's experiences growing up. I have recommended this book to my mother and my sisters because that is the central theme: more
by Lesley Nation
"I absolutely loved this book. I have recommended it to so many people, including my mother who also loved it. As a woman, I think it's fantastic to read a book that speaks of a time when women could honour their time of menses and resting by the moon. I give it 5 stars and urge anyone to at least give a go! "show more
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