"The Red Tent" is not the book I expected it to be.
I brought high expectations to the book as a trusted friend highly recommended it to me. Despite this, the book still managed to take my breath away in manners unforeseen.
More Than a Bible Story.
Ostensibly, this is the story of Dinah. It is the story, though, told in a way you never heard it in Sunday School. Indeed, her story is so violent, tragic, and brief, that she is rarely anything but a footnote in most Bible study classes.
A quick retelling of the story as told in the Bible is useful to understanding this book. Dinah is the daughter of Jacob, only sister to Joseph (he of the coat of many colors). She is raped by a prince whose father then offers to pay a dowry so that his son might wed her. Jacob agrees on the condition that all the men of the town are circumcised according to their family's tradition.
The king agrees. While all the men are still in pain from their circumcision, Jacob's sons raid the town and slaughter them all.
Dinah then drops out of the Bible and is never heard from again.
"The Red Tent" tells this story from Dinah's point of view, and it is the story as we have never heard it before. She begins with the story of her mothers, Jacob's wives: Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah. She then tells her story.
While the story is the story from Genesis 34, it is different in many important ways. The rape becomes a love affair. Author Anita Diamant explains, "I could never reconcile the story of Genesis 34 with a rape, because the prince does not behave like a rapist! After the prince is...