The Red Tent is a well written story that gives insight to the lives of women that are largely treated as props in the Bible. It follows Dinah the daughter of Jacob and sister of Joseph (not the husband of Mary mother of Jesus). At the core, this is a story about women and their relationships as mothers and daughters. It spans the length of Dinah’s mother’s birth to Dinah’s death, and we gain a look at what it is like to be a woman during this time. The story starts strong in an intriguing and engrossing manner. By the end, I lost some of my initial excitement, but I leave it with an overall positive outlook.
Diamant gives Dinah new depth, expending on a story but also redefining it. I loved that the women of this story had more strength than I ever imagined during Biblical times. Don’t get me wrong, the patriarchy was strong in this time, and that is ever present. Nevertheless, Diamant writes these women with strength and resilience. The Red Tent is representative of that. The tent is for the period of mensuration and birthing because there is a strong stigma against men observing such things. This was a key part of their custom.
The custom was another thing that I really appreciated. I went into this expecting it to be a much more christian story, but instead, the customs Diamant describes feels completely alien to my expectations of religious custom, even during that time. What’s more, the story never mentions Jehovah explicitly. There are times where the god of one man or another is referred to, but it is treated as no different or better than the gods of Dinah’s or her parents. This is not a christian story. At the same time, it never feels that detached from christianity either. That is important because the customs feel so archaic and ancient, and it’s easy to forget many of the customs of the old testament are the same way.
In the end, this was a well written story that makes you appreciate your mothers. Perhaps the most effective piece of the story was Dinah’s relationship with her son. A mother’s love is so fundamental, and I think it’s easy to forget what we mean to our mothers. I appreciate the reminder. 4/5 stars.
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