The Red Tent, a NY Times bestselling novel written by Anita Diamant in 1997, is a feminist approach to the biblical story of Dina, sister of Joseph and daughter of Jacob. The book begins with the story of Leah and Jacob’s marriage. After they are married, they are joined by the gentle Rachel, serious Zilpah and immature Bilhah.
Dinah recalls the time spent in the red tent, talking to the older woman and taking care of the home and Jacob. A prince from Shechem fell in love with her and offered her father a large bride-price, but her brothers were angry at how they imagined him to have defiled her. They murdered the Shechemites and rescued Dinah.
The grieving Dinah ran away to Egypt, gave birth to a son and eventually fell in love again. Eventually, she reconciled with her father. After his death, she returned to visit her family. Despite learning that they have nearly forgotten about her, she does not regret any of her decisions.
The title refers to the cloistered place that menstruation woman live in during their menses. Here they spend time together bonding with the other women in their tribe, building relationships and offering support.
From the modern-day perspective, the practice of seclusion during menstruation is perceived as oppressive, but this book attempts to explain how women found it to be a positive part of their lives. Other parts of the book, however, can be interpreted as criticism of the Patriarchs of the Bible. Religiously conservative readers may find this offensive and should be warned beforehand.
I would recommend this book to everybody else, though. The story was emotional with incredible character development. I definitely should have listened to this book over more sessions than I did, since it was too hard to push stop!
Carol Bilger narration perfectly compliments the soothing musical interludes between the chapters.