I realize that this book came out 12 years ago.. 12 years! Can you imagine? But it is in my top 10 so I thought I would review it. I was originally told about this book in 2001 by a gal I met in L.A. while visiting. She said that every single woman should read it, and she was quite excited about it. I am one of those people that is easily swayed by someone else's excitement over a book, but that being said, it did take me another 7 years before I would read it. And I am so glad I did!
The Red Tent, although conceived from bible roots, is not a "religious book" per se. In other words you do not need to be religious at all to enjoy it. It speaks to every woman (or man I suppose), and makes you wish there was something still called a "Red Tent" in existence today. After reading the book I then did some research and found an interview with Ms. Diamant and she admitted that the "red tent" from Dinah's story never actually existed as far as we know, but reading the book you would believe that her story is a historical fact, it is so beautifully written in believable detail.
The story follows the biblical character Dinah, who in the bible is only mentioned in a few short passages. But the way Diamant fleshes out Dinah's life and what happens to her before, during and after the events of the bible is truly beautiful and heartbreaking. But perhaps my favourite parts of this entire novel are in the intimate interactions among the females of the time. They form a strong "sisterhood" and when one enters the red tent for the first time they lavish her with attention and celebrate her entering into womanhood. Such a different picture than I formed in my mind when I heard that women then and even in some modern cultures are sequestered away until their "red" days have passed, like some leper. Not so in Diamont's world. It left me wanting to celebrate my mother, my daughters, my sisters, my female friends! To hold them up and sing their praises! It really makes you feel like that! Here's a passage illustrating what I mean:
The set-up: Dinah as just been born in the Red Tent among all of the women of her community.
After Rachel wiped me clean, she handed me to Zilpah, who embraced me, and then to Bilhah, who kissed me as well. I took my mother's breast with an eager mouth, and all the women of the camp clapped their hands for my mother and for me. Bilhah fed my mother honeyed milk and cake. She washed Leah's hair with perfumed water, and she massaged her feet.
While Leah slept, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah took me out into the moonlight and put henna on my feet and hands, as though I were a bride. They spoke a hundred blessings around me, north, south, east and west, to protect me against Lamashtu and the other baby-stealing demons. They gave me a thousand kisses.
There are only a small hand full of books that has brought me to tears, and The Red Tent is one of them. I sobbed near the end. SOBBED. But after I read it I phoned my Mom and told her all about it, and felt such a kinship with other women I may never had experienced had I not read it.
I am also ECSTATIC to report that I have my very first ARC on it's way to me!!!!!!! A huge thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me THE WHITE QUEEN by Philippa Gregory!!!!! Once read I will review it, I am just thrilled that I have my first one!