The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Goodreads Summary: 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 sustain her through a hard-working 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 connection with the past. Deeply affecting, The Red Tentcombines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of biblical women’s society
This was one of those books that was on my “cloud to be read list.” You know books that you are aware of and think you probably should read, but haven’t really committed to reading yet? Then one of my book clubs selected it for their next read and I had to make the committment.
From a critical standpoint this book is very well written and engaging. I liked the way she fleshed out the female characters. The male characters are rather flat, but then the story isn’t about them. If it had not been based on Biblical characters, I probably would have really enjoyed the book.
But it is based on Biblical characters. I guess you could call it historical Christian fiction. It is often hard for me to read historical fiction. Even though I know it’s FICTION, I often find myself doing research to see what “really happened.” I understand that when writing historical fiction authors need to use a certain amount of creative license, but I personally don’t like it when they take too much creative license. I like the story to be within the realm of possibility. In my very personal humble opinion I think Diamant altered the Biblical story too much. I’m not talking about what happened to Dinah. Based on my readings and research I think she captured that pretty well. The Bible doesn’t give us much information on Dinah. It’s the way she portrayed Dinah’s “mothers” – Jacob’s wives. In the book their stories stray far from what I was taught.
I’m not a Biblical scholar. And I’ve read some reviewers who believe that Diamant was accurate in her portrayal of these women. I’m still researching. However, I can’t help but feel that Diamant portrayed them the way she did for the pure sensationalism. Which if you want to sell books, is not necessarily a bad thing.
Now before you blast for me for my opinion (and remember we are all entitled to our opinions), remember I did say the book was well written. Diamant is a good story teller and I can think of several readers I know who will enjoy the book. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.