Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Red Tent - Anita Diamant (December/05)

I finished The Red Tent by Anita Diamant today. I have read a lot of books this year, but I would safely say that this is one of the best books I read this year. I am not a very religious person, so this story is not something I am overly familiar with. It is the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob from the Bible. Not even having to research the story, I can say that this is more information than appears in the story of the Bible. It is a woman's perspective of her life and the life of the people around her.

The story starts back in the time of her mothers. Four sisters that would end up marrying the same man: Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah. They marry Jacob, who is the important chapter in the Book of Genesis. Dinah tells the story from before she was born until the moments after she dies in the last pages of the novel. Leah was the woman that gave birth to her. She was the hard-working woman that gave birth to the majority of Jacob's sons. Rachel was the beauty, and the second wife. She gave birth to two of Jacob's sons, and was a midwife that influenced Dinah's later life. The last two wives were Zilpah and Bilhah. Zilpah had little interest in her husband, she always seemed to live in her own world. Bilhah was the calm and quiet member of the family, until she does something so shocking that Jacob turns his back.

Dinah grew up with her mothers' love, as she considered all these women one of her mothers. She was the only daughter, so she got special attention from these women that would sustain her through the rest of her life, even when they were apart. A great travesty happened in her life, and she turned her back on her family and travelled to Egypt where she had a son, met the man she would spend the rest of her life with, and discovered a whole new family. She was considered a great midwife, Rachel's legacy to her, and well-respected in her own world. Near the end of her life she travels to her homeland where she sees her grown up brothers that were still living, she has twelve, and makes peace with her past.

It is a lovely tale, it does not matter what part of the world it takes place in or the time frame. It is about the struggle of women to have a life in a male-dominated society and have a voice for their beliefs. Dinah overcomes great obstacles to become a great woman of Egypt. I recommend this book to everyone.

I give this book a 5/5

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