My first audiobook of the year is done! The women of my book club had mentioned reading this book and how much they enjoyed it so i decided to grab it myself. My mom loved it, too. I wasn’t in love with it, but I really enjoyed this book.
Dinah is only briefly mentioned in the Bible as the son of Jacob and sister of Joseph. Anita Diamant gives us a sweeping life story of this woman and her life growing up in the 1700s BC. Dinah is the only daughter of Jacob and beloved by her mother and three aunties, Jacobs other wives. The women covet their time spent in the Red Tent, where women spend their monthly time. The women pass to Dinah their knowledge of raising children and living with men, glad to have a girl to pass this knowledge to. One of Dinah’s aunts, Rachel, is a midwife and Dinah apprentices herself to Rachel, learning the skills and tricks her aunt uses to deliver a live child to its mother.
Dinah meets and falls in love with the heir to a local principality and for the first time, feels that she is her own woman. Her brothers object to her marriage because they know the bride price will add to the family wealth and that the oldest son will be richer than the other brothers. In their anger, Dinah’s husband is killed, leaving her alone and with child, too angry to rejoin her family. She travels with her mother-in-law to Egypt and raises her son to be a famous scribe.
I loved the description of ancient life in this book; it really stuck with me. Things that today seem so rough and primitive were very normal in Dinah’s everyday life. Diamant did a wonderful job of bringing the life of these people to life in a respectful way. The first person point of view really helped this.
The one thing that I thought seemed off to me was the level of autonomy that Dinah had. Her mother and aunts did not have as great a level of freedom as Dinah seemed to have in her later years and this is because Dinah was an accomplished midwife. Though this seems logical, I felt the story was a little feminist and showed a more modern idea of feminine freedom because of Dinah’s position.
Dinah’s story is about forgiveness and family. In her childhood, she feels that her family has been betrayed by her grandfather, Laban, who lords over her father Jacob and will not let the younger man have his own life. When Jacob is finally able to leave, he does so without looking back because Laban has not asked for forgiveness. After her husband is murdered, Dinah too runs away from her father without looking back. When Joseph is to return to Jacob for his sons to receive the grandfather’s blessing, she is overlooked. Her brothers and father do not recognize her and she feels shunned. Right before she turns to leave, her brother Judah comes to speak to her, having recognized his sister. He gives her a token of remembrance of their mother and Dinah is finally able to forgive her brothers and father, knowing that they have not forgotten about her and still love her. This is a forgiveness her mothers were not able to give to their own father and I think Dinah is glad to have forgiven Jacob.
When I think about it, this book is really Biblical Fanfiction. Dinah is mentioned briefly in the Bible as the daughter of Jacob but not much else is known about her. I always raise an eyebrow when something that is published could really be counted as fanfiction. Reader, what’s your opinion on published fanfiction? It’s a topic of interest to me.
As far as other discussion points on this book, I’m sure there are many worth of mention, but I really didn’t like this book very much and I’m not the best person to discuss it further. I’ll put some related posts below that you can explore for some other reader’s opinions.
Writer’s Takeaway: I loved this book from a historical fiction point of view. You man know, Reader, that I’m a big historical fiction junky and this time period is not one that’s available very often. It was obvious that Diamant did her research and brought to life an era long since gone. This book is a wonderful example of well executed historic writing.
As I said, the book was good and I enjoyed it, but it’s not memorable for me. There were too many characters for my taste and a lot of them ran together. Three out of five stars.
The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant|Novel Insights
Pitching The Red Tent: Anita Diamant on Marketing Her First Novel|Historian’s Notebook
Book Club Review: The Red Tent, Anita Diamant|OpallaOnTrains
Book Review: “The Red Tent” by Anita Diamant|The Faery Inn