Wednesday, April 21, 2010

THE RED TENT by Anita Diamant

The narrator of this highly embellished Biblical story is Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob, whose wives include Leah (Dinah's mother) and her three sisters. Dinah's brothers and father are shepherds by trade, but they're basically murderous barbarians. This is a somewhat violent tale, contrasted with the midwifery of Dinah and her aunt Rachel, who have the mission of bringing life into the world. Grief and anger eventually drive Dinah from the sisterhood of her aunts to Egypt, where she bears her child in the house of her husband's mother. This is certainly a saga of Dinah's lost innocence but more about the dignity and compassion which she maintains throughout her colorful life. She exhibits an independence that was not typical of the day, and yet her friendships sustain and rescue her time and again. It's also a story of female bonding in a very male-dominated world, and I suppose that this theme is what made this book so popular.

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