Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant

The Red Tent: A NovelSo many of us are familiar with the story of Joseph and his brothers, resulting in the 12 tribes of Israel.  Their sister, Dinah, gets but a mere mention in the Bible, and what little is told of her is of her shame, her rape by Shechem, and how her brothers avenge this.  Now, we learn her full story, what it meant to be a woman in ancient days, how the women fit into those Biblical tales, the story behind Shechem, and what happened afterward.

Obviously, this is a work of fiction.  But beyond that, it is a work of art.  So many times, I have found a profound lack of female voice, and feminine story, in biblical literature and study, that this book is such an amazing breath of fresh air.  I love learning about Dinah from childhood, something we are never privy to in scripture.  And I love a behind the scenes look at what some of the other women of the Bible may have been like, as well as the roles they may have played in Bible stories.

Clearly, a lot of creativity went into this story, particularly what happens to Dinah in her adult life, which has no Biblical parameters.  But it is also clear that Diamant has done a tremendous amount of research to make the book as historically accurate as possible, and I cannot help but wonder if something like this story may not have actually happened to Dinah.

I love when Biblical historical fiction is written in a way that even non believers can enjoy it, as I think that this story has been.  I found a similar treasure in Roseanna White's A Stray Drop of Blood, so if you are a fan of that book, you will like this book (also, Roseanna has another Biblical historical novel coming out soon, so stay tuned!).  This is a book that I can read again and again, and never tire of it.  It is a highly recommended addition to the library of any lover of historical fiction, particularly stories with strong female characters.