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The Red Tent

by Meghann on February 26, 2013

After a two month hiatus due to the holidays, weddings, etc., the “Literal Hotties” reconvened tonight to discuss our latest book club selection: The Red Tent.

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This was a great book. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it at first, but I ended up falling in love with the characters and the story line. I really can’t recommend this book enough.

From Amazon:

Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that tell of her father, Jacob, and his twelve sons.

Told in Dinah’s voice, Anita Diamant imagines the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood–the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of the mothers–Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah–the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through childhood, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah’s story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past.

Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of biblical women’s lives.

There’s so much to say about this book that my mind is going a mile a minute trying to put into words what it’s thinking. The Red Tent moves well past the biblical story of Dinah and her family; and instead focuses on the rich traditions and stories of the women of the time. The Red Tent becomes an essential character of the book as the women head to the tent for their monthly bleeds and essentially celebrate their womanhood within the tent’s wall. The Red Tent is where secrets are shared and stories are passed on from generation to generation.

There’s a particularly empowering scene when Dinah has her first period. The first period is marked as her official introduction to womanhood and all the secrets that being a woman entails. Her four mothers celebrate the occasion with an all night ceremony that involves rituals and food. When I got my first period, I was so nervous that I hid the news from my mom for months. Getting your first period is huge, maybe I wouldn’t have been so nervous if I knew I would get a party out of it?

The female relationships and connections in the book made me appreciate my own relationships with the women in my life and how important that female bonding still is today. We may not sit in a red tent anymore, but we go for runs, eat meals together, and have book club. There’s still that yearning to pass stories on from generation to generation. Maybe one day I’ll have the opportunity to pass my stories to my future daughters, just as Dinah’s mothers passed their stories on to her.

I also enjoyed how strong the females of the book are, particularly Dinah who becomes wise beyond her years at such a young age due to tragic circumstances.

Have you read The Red Tent? What did you think?

Courtney hosted tonight’s book club meeting with a chili pot luck.

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She made the chili and we brought the toppings, cornbread, salad, and dessert. I made an arugula salad with roasted red peppers, feta, and artichoke hearts for the occasion.

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Steph made a chocolate crock pot dessert recipe that was delicious. I have a few crock pot desserts pinned, she inspired me to try one soon.

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Time for bed.

Good Night!

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Theresa February 27, 2013 at 12:28 am

I read the Red Tent a few years ago and felt the same way you did. It is an amazing story! I loved it!!

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2 Becky @ runfundone February 27, 2013 at 12:32 am

Ah! I didn’t tell my mom about my period until…well a day later, but I’ve never met anyone else who hid it from their mom!

Not going to lie…that book does not pass the all important cover test. I ALWAYS judge a book by a cover, and this was is judged as terrible.
Becky @ runfundone recently posted..Bangs!

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3 Becky @ runfundone February 27, 2013 at 12:33 am

*this one is judged

Sorry, most proof-read comments prior to submitting.
Becky @ runfundone recently posted..Bangs!

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4 Katie February 27, 2013 at 8:49 am

I also haven’t read this book, despite seeing it lots of places. I guess the time period isn’t a huge draw for me, but knowing that its a story of womanhood, I should give it a try! Also, I can’t believe you could hide getting your period from your mothers for months!! I told mine the minute it happened! Although I did start shaving my legs without telling her!
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5 Nina February 27, 2013 at 4:33 am

That is one of my all time favorite books. My girlfriends have started a red tent movement in Orlando, I’m pretty sure there is one in Tampa too! Dinah is such an amazing character in that book.

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6 Megan February 27, 2013 at 5:49 am

A good friend of mine sent me this book a few months ago but I haven’t had the chance (or desire) to pick it up. I might now after reading this post 🙂
Megan recently posted..The Birds

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7 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats February 27, 2013 at 6:44 am

I haven’t ever heard of this book but it really sounds like something I would like! I wouldn’t have picked it up on my own but after your description of how it’s about the relationships between the women, I think I’d enjoy reading it. Thanks for the review!
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8 Elizabeth @ Positive Change February 27, 2013 at 7:51 am

This is my best friends favorite book, I think I will now download on to my kindle! I would love to try a desert crockpot recipe!
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9 Ashley C February 27, 2013 at 8:02 am

I love The Red Tent!!! It’s been a while since I have read it but you may have just inspired me to re-read it! 🙂

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10 Heather February 27, 2013 at 8:07 am

I hated the book! I loved the story and the plot, but I just wish it didn’t completely bastardize a biblical story by suggesting that they accepted idolatry and other historically and biblically inaccurate details. To me, it completely undermines the legacy of the matriarchs. My opinion definitely might be what it is because of the fact that I am an observant Jew and spent a lot of time studying Biblical and Jewish history in college, so anything that seems to contradict the study I have done automatically makes me dislike it 🙂 However, I have another book by her that I’m planning on reading…I like her writing style, I just wish she wasn’t so… liberal in her interpretation of events.

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11 Karen @ Runner Girl Eats February 27, 2013 at 8:42 am

I’ve heard about this book but was unsure about how I’d actually like it. But I guess a lil girl power never hurt so maybe ill give it a whirl. I never even thought of making dessert in the crockpot!
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12 Natalie @ Free Range Human February 27, 2013 at 9:27 am

I 100% agree. The Red Tent was wonderfully written, and such an empowering story. Women in the biblical tradition are treated as such secondary characters. This book brought them to the forefront, and gave us a look at the incredibly interesting traditions and culutres of the time. So glad you liked it!
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13 Lauren @ Eat Like An Elephant February 27, 2013 at 9:36 am

This sounds like an interesting book. I’m also super jealous of that cornbread!

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14 Rachel @ RachelRuns29.11 February 27, 2013 at 10:58 am

I love your book recommendations! Thanks!

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15 Sarah February 27, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I haven’t read this book, but it looks awesome! I’m constantly searching for new book ideas. I’ll have to add this one to the list!

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16 Emily February 27, 2013 at 2:11 pm

I LOVED “The Red Tent”. I read it a few years ago when my mom recommended it, and my OB suggested it when I got pregnant; she recommends it to all her patients. It was just one of those beautifully written stories that makes you want to wrap up in the words and story and just live in it for a while.

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17 Megan February 27, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I read The Red Tent a couple years ago — thought it was going to be a tough read, but I ended up loving it! I still think about it from time to time, such a great story!
Megan recently posted..Why I changed my name when I always said I wouldn’t.

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18 Gianna February 27, 2013 at 2:52 pm

I read this a few years ago and loved it, I need to find it to reread.
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19 Erin @ The Elliptical Chronicles February 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm

I read The Red Tent a few years ago and LOVED it. The characters were so rich & I was completely engrossed in the story the entire time. In fact, I still seek out books that are reviewed as being “similar to” The Red Tent on Amazon.com.
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20 Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes February 27, 2013 at 8:32 pm

“The Red Tent” is definitely on my top-1o favorite books of all-time list! I haven’t read it since high school, so I should pick it up again soon. 🙂
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21 Kim Craig February 28, 2013 at 12:32 pm

I loved this book too and also love the female bonding it represents, right down to the synchronizing of cycles. Has anyone else every wondered about that??
Thanks for the book share! And I love your blog too btw.

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22 The Many Thoughts of a Reader March 1, 2013 at 3:28 pm

I really want to read this!
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