The Red Tent

The Red Tent

by Anita Diamant
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The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Her name is Dinah. In the Bible her life is only hinted at during a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters about her father, Jacob, and his dozens of sons in the Book of Genesis.

Told through Dinah's eloquent voice, this sweeping novel reveals the traditions and turmoil of ancient womanhood. Dinah's tale 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 hard-working youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land.

Dinah tells us of the world of the red tent, the place where women were sequestered during their cycles of birthing, menses, and illness; of her initiations into the religious and sexual practices of her tribe; of Jacob's courtship with his four wives; of the mystery and wonder of caravans, farmers, shepherds, and slaves; of love and death in the city of Shechem; and of her half-brother Joseph's rise in Egypt.

Passionate, earthy, deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable contribution to modern fiction: a vibrant new perspective of female life in the age that shaped our civilization and our values.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312195519
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 09/15/1998
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.17(h) x 0.89(d)
Lexile: 1010L (what's this?)
Age Range: 16 - 18 Years

About the Author

Anita Diamant is a prize-winning journalist whose work has appeared regularly in the Boston Globe Magazine and Parenting magazine. She is the author of five books about contemporary Jewish practice: Choosing a Jewish Life, Bible Baby Names, The New Jewish Baby Book, The New Jewish Wedding, and Living a Jewish Life (with H. Cooper). She lives in West Newton, MA, with her husband and daughter, Emilia, to whom the book is dedicated.

Diamant says it was the relationship between Leah and Rachel that stimulated her thinking about The Red Tent. "The Biblical story that pits the two sisters against one another never sat right with me. The traditional view of Leah as the ugly and/or spiteful sister, and of Jacob as indifferent to her, seemed odd in light of the fact that the Bible gives them nine children together...As I re-read Genesis over the years, I settled on the story of Dinah, their daughter. The drama and her total silence (Dinah does not utter a single word in the Bible) cried out for explanation, and I decided to imagine one."

Aiding her work was "midrash," the ancient and still vital literary form, which means "search" or "investigation."

"Historically, the rabbis used this highly imaginative form of storytelling to make sense of the elliptical nature of the Bible-to explain, for example, why Cain killed Abel...The compressed stories and images in the Bible are rather like photographs. They don't tell us everything we want or need to know. Midrash is the story about what happened before and after the photographic flash."

She points out that "The Red Tent is not a translation but a work of fiction. Its perspective and focus-by and about the female characters-distinguishes it from the Biblical account in which women are usually peripheral and often totally silent. By giving Dinah a voice and by providing texture and content to the sketchy Biblical descriptions, my book is a radical departure from the historical text."


Boston, Massachusetts

Date of Birth:

June 27, 1951

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


M.A. in English, SUNY, Binghamton, NY, 1975; B.A. in Comparative Literature, Washington Univ., St. Louis, MO, 1973.

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Red Tent (10th Anniversary Edition) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 738 reviews.
Awesomeness1 More than 1 year ago
This novel follows the tale of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob barely mentioned in the Old Testament. In the Hebrew Bible, she is seen as a young girl who a handsome prince took advantage of, and that the following slaughter was the result of her family defending her honor. I went into this book solely expecting a rich, entertaining story and that's what I got. I never read the story in the Bible, so I didn't have any expectations in regard to being accurate. I learned much from this book and I could picture the vivid scenery. The way it was written was just so beautiful. Scenes that I would have otherwise found awkward were handled tenderly with grace. This family saga is a tribute to women and mothers everywhere, even those we have forgotten. I saw some reviews saying how this book treated men poorly and two-dimensionally, but I disagree. Dinah treated her male relatives with respect, and her later hatred of them was for personal reasons only- not just because they were men. The reason the men weren't as fleshed out as the women is simply because Dinah did not know them as well. She was surrounded by women, so that's what would have stuck with her. It seems the more impressed I am with a book, the less I have to say about it. Overall a beautiful, sad story about womanhood and family that I whole-heartedly recommend.
nicjojen More than 1 year ago
As a counter-point to the reviewer who pointed out that this story does not follow the Bible version, might I remind the readers out there that the Bible was written by men. This is an historical fiction story imagined from the perspective of a woman who would not have had much of a voice in that time period. If you are looking for the word-for-word version of Dinah's story from the the Bible. If you are looking for a gorgeously written saga from a female perspective that will hold your attention from beginning to end (and leave you wishing for a sequel) you must read this lovely book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although Diamant's depiction of the life of Dinah may differ from the version given in the Bible, this does not make her tale invalid. The many details in the book make it clear that the time period and status of women has been researched to the very utmost...whereas during the time of the Bible, women were not given a voice...these things were ignored. It was a highly moving tale... and who is to say that Joseph did not become selfish, or that Dinah was not in love with Shalem? Would Dinah have been asked before her history was recorded so briefly? A moving, captivating read, that I would recommend not only to women but to anyone willing to keep an open mind.
ParkerEE More than 1 year ago
The Red Tent is about Dinah, daughter of Jacob, who is one of the characters in the Bible. It tells the story of life growing up during Biblical times and the struggles for women. It starts of with Dinah living with her mothers and their responsibilities in the community. Their connection with each other helps them through the struggles they endure because they have to live with someone with different beliefs and on his own mission of shaping Christianity. We then follow Dinah to Shechem where she learns to become a midwife and falls in love with a prince, Shalem. After they are married, her brothers, Levi and Simon, slaughter her husband because they felt he had taken their sister without permission. Dinah is then left with Shalem's mother, Re-Nefer, and they run away together to Egypt to live with her brother. In Egypt, Dinah raises her son and remarries. Eventually, she is confronted with her past when she runs into Joseph, Jacob's son. But is able to go back to her life in Egypt, leaving her past behind her. Dinah's story is one of empowerment and overcoming of obstacles. What I really liked about this was that it didn't feel like a Biblical tale but an almost non-fiction documentary on the women's life in ancient times. I recommend this book because it provides insight on a more difficult time and how women have always been fighting for their freedom and a place in history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a beautifully told story of the many aspects of womanhood.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have had this book for years and finally read it. All I can say is WOW. I missed out on a book that has been on my shelf since its first publication. Dinah is the daughter of Jacob and his first wife Leah. Joseph is her half brother , they shared the same breast though. A story straight out of the Old Testament told in a modern fictionalized but biblically correct way. This story is also from the Torah. Known to christians as the five books of Moses. The story is incredible. And I wish more was out there that was so well written. Young and old alike will like this one. Even if you are not religious you would like this book. Five stars from me.
Chrissy_W More than 1 year ago
Interesting and brought great discussion and laughter to my book group! Did I enjoy this book: I really did enjoy this book. I read it every free chance I had. Much to my surprise, I couldn't put this book down. I found The Red Tent to be an interesting perspective of a well-known Bible story. I was fascinated by the story of Dinah and her mother/mother-aunts. I felt for the women and I found their history enthralling. Something you may never have imagined or thought of happening. Can you imagine your period being a time of rest and celebration? I cannot...but that's what it was to these women. They found that time to be empowering and a chance to share their histories and traditions with the next generation. This book brought a lot of great discussion, laughter, and thoughts at our book group! Would I recommend it: I would recommend this book...with one caveat - read it for what it is, FICTION! It may be based on a Bible story and a specific historical time period, but it is fiction...and good fiction at that! Will I read it again: I doubt it. But I wouldn't rule it out completely.
Jennifer Raikes More than 1 year ago
Anita wrote this as if she herself walked in the shoes of Dinah. Has a wonderfully Pagan feel to it and I, as well as my friends feel as if Anita and Dinah are our sisters
ArmeWfe More than 1 year ago
I can't say enough about Anita Diamant's Red Tent. I have read it twice in 8 years and after both reads I took away something different. The story through the eyes of Dinah is amazing, and you can really identify with the characters as Diamant develops them throughout the course of the book. Some may view it as sexist and chauvanistic, but the reality of a woman's role in ancient society is well thought out and researched. The fictional idea of a women's tent is a testament to the strength and solidarity the author sees in women. I loved how Diamant weaved Old Testament elements with fiction, and did so in such a way that it leaves you really wanting to know more of these ancient people and their ways of life. The book does not purport to be an analysis of the story of Dinah, which in the Old Testament is brief and told through the eyes of the men in her family. Nor does Diamant sell herself an expert in religion, it is merely the fictional autobiography of a small blip on the biblical radar that was Dinah. Be prepared to cry and laugh and truly experience the emotions of the all the characters, even those who are only part of the periphery of the main story. Finally the development of the story keeps you interested and emotionally invested in Dinah and her story- from start to finish. I can't recommend this book enough! It is a must own for everyone who loves to read! (I have it in paperback and in ebook!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I stayed up way too late every night until I finished this book. Great story-telling and fantastic imagery made me feel like I was there. (I also think this red tent idea sounds fantastic!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is NOT for younger readers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most incredible books out there. Men and women should be required to read this it is so great. I laughed, cried and was awestruck by the story. It is a great summer read. I could not put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No book has ever disgusted me as much as this one has.  It grieves me that there are so many positive reviews.  It is offensive, pornographic, and is a completely untrue and twisted version of biblical events.  I pray for the hearts and minds of the people who have read this and enjoyed it...  
carnold More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I've ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read! Made the bible come alive! I actually want to go read part of genesis because of it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent read! Loved it!
Binxy_Books More than 1 year ago
As soon as i read the first page of this book i just wanted more and more. This is a touching book with such realism you'll think you're with dinah the whole time through her adventure. Its a heart-wrenching/warming story that you will want to read again and again.(which i have done!) will not regret getting this book. 10000000% recommended!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I truly loved this book!! Im not a very religious person and have not read the Bible, but this story is amazing! Its about time you hear something of the women of that time..and what a story Dinah has to tell!! I rarely cry reading a book,but at the end of this book when all is said and done I felt so overwhelmed, I cried and cried!! Do yourself a favor and read this book!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be enchanting. Her story telling was superb and kept me hooked. The book was rich and full of passion, intelligence and history. Regardless of your religious background, a worthy book for your time. Anita Diamant takes the cake in my book! A well documented tale of the women and journeys of this time, told in the eyes of Dinah, daughter of Jacob, Leah, Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah. Take your time and put your feet up- you're in for a great tale.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a book recommended to me by my Manager at a B-Dalton store. She said it was a Good Book but she didn't say it was a GREAT BOOK!!! I began reading it just after purchasing it and could not leave off. The story grabs you by the throat and won't let go. The characters in the book are vivid and there is genuine pathos. I finished it 11 1/2 hours later. The history of 'The Red Tent' or a place for women to go while on their Moon (Menstrual) Cycle was well told and Ms. Diamant did her research well. I think ALL Women should read this. No matter what their beliefs are.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a moving story. For those of you who have not been able to accept the fact that his-tory has been written exclusively by and for men, you will adore this tale. What a beautiful tale of biblical times. Took only 3 days to read. Afterwards, I sat in perfect peace thinking about the characters and how touching each woman was in her own unique way. Highly recommend for any woman looking for a story of mother/daughter relationships. Makes me think fondly of my late mother and how special she was (and still is) in my life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I at least had the expectation that this author would follow the Bible where she could, but I guess that was my expectation and she did err. Now with her book and her movie out, people who have never read the Bible will think this person is portraying facts, and she's not. It's just a plain story based on her fiction. Very disappointed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reading the sample it look good. So I bought it. now I wish there is a way to return it.I feel my heavenly father would not want any of his children reading this book.and I had to put at least 1star to post . I give it no stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story.
levi111 More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best books I've red in a long while. Not many pages, yet full of wisdom and insight of your beginnings.