The Red Tent

This story about one of Jacob’s daughter Dinah is plotless mess.

The writing is quite unclear.  We are introduced to Zilpah the least important wife of Jacob. Zilpah was only a few months younger than Leah, and after Zilpah’s mother died, Adah gave them suck together. Are we supposed to assume this refers to breast feeding? Or lines like she was good the way milk is good; the way rain is good. What does that even mean? The dialogue flips from biblical lite to current language. “You think the world owes you anything? Don’t get too proud with me, you afterbirth, or I’ll send you back to your brother’s long knife.”

Can we survive observations like “But on that day I was a girl ready for a man.”?

The historical fiction sequences do ring true. In order to finalize Dinah’s marriage to Shalem, Shalem’s father King Hamor puts his hand under Jacob’s thigh and Jacob reciprocated by putting his hand on the King’s thigh. This was a custom of acknowledging circumcision—nothing sexual. When Jacob realizes both Shalem and Hamor are not circumcised, he insists before the marriage can be consummated.

Despite this beloved novel’s reputation and twentieth year reprint, this was a miss for me.

The Red Tent: Author Anita Diamant with Aaron Katersky – YouTube

The Red Tent (Diamant novel) – Wikipedia

 

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