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Publisher's Summary

Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable contribution in modern fiction: a new perspective of female life in biblical society. It is a vast and stirring work described as what the Bible might have been had it been written by God's daughters instead of sons. Far beyond the traditional women-of-the-Bible sagas in both impact and vigor, The Red Tent is based upon a mention in Genesis of Jacob's only female offspring - his daughter, Dinah. 

Author Anita Diamant, in the voice of Dinah, gives an insider's look at the details of women's lives in biblical times and a chronicle of their earthy stories and long-ignored histories. The red tent of the title is the place where women were sequestered during their cycles of birthing, menses, and illness. It is here that Dinah hears the whispered stories of her four mothers - Jacob's wives Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah - and tells their tales to us in remarkable and thought-provoking oratories. 

Familiar passages from the Bible take on new life as Dinah fills in what the Bible has left out - the lives of women. Dinah tells us of her initiation into the religious and sexual practices of the tribe; Jacob's courtship with Rachel and Leah; the ancient world of caravans, farmers, midwives, and slaves; her ill-fated sojourn in the city of Sechem; her years in Canaan; and her half-brother Joseph's rise in Egypt.

Skillfully interweaving biblical tales with characters of her own invention, the author re-creates the life of Dinah providing an illuminating portrait of a courageous woman and the life she might have lived. A new view of the panorama of life in biblical times emerges from the female perspective, and the red tent itself becomes a symbol of womanly strength, love, and wisdom.

The Red Tent is one of those extremely rare publishing phenomenons - a little promoted, but dynamically successful book (over 250,000 copies sold) that owes its success to enthusiastic word-of-mouth endorsements. Now, for the first time, this sweeping saga, which has struck a chord with so many modern-day women, comes to life as a much-anticipated audiobook. 

Don't miss Anita Diamant at the 92nd Street Y.
©1997 by Anita Diamant (P)2000 by Audio Renaissance, An Imprint of Renaissance Media, Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Book Sense Book of the Year Award Winner, Adult Fiction, 2001

"The oldest story of all could never seem more original, or more true." (James Carroll, author of An American Requiem)
"Carol Bilger narrates with a warmth and melodiousness that echo the rhythm of the musical interludes that separate chapters." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about The Red Tent

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,914
  • 4 Stars
    1,094
  • 3 Stars
    503
  • 2 Stars
    191
  • 1 Stars
    225
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    2,256
  • 4 Stars
    728
  • 3 Stars
    288
  • 2 Stars
    81
  • 1 Stars
    80
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,181
  • 4 Stars
    679
  • 3 Stars
    331
  • 2 Stars
    117
  • 1 Stars
    145

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Very Pleased

I am a 25 year old man. This is not only a book for women. I absolutley loved it. It made me laugh and cry numerous times. The narrator was great and the writing was never boring or tedious. I highly recommend this book to anyone!

97 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

The key word is 'fiction'

First, I found this book to be a very enjoyable listen, and I thought the narrator did a fine job, especially with pronunciations and emoting. I'm always unpleasantly surprised by reviewers who rate a book low because it wasn't what they 'expected.' Listening to a book with an open mind and heart can bring a lot of unexpected pleasure. There is nothing offensive or blasphemous about this work of FICTION. It is not a Bible story nor does it claim to be. It is written and narrated in a lovely and poetic fashion, and paints a picture of what life MIGHT have been like for Dinah and her families in a time we know very little about. It is slow moving at times, heart-wrenching on occasion, but, in my opinion, it is beautifully written and a touching story. Open minds in search of an interesting listen might very well enjoy this.

130 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome!

I loved this book. It is very entertaining. I heard it in a few days. Couldnt put my ipod down :) The reader did a great job and made you feel like she was really telling her story. Enjoy!

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

highly-recommended -- fun, moving, thot-provoking

This tale re-writes the bible story of Joseph, from the imagined perspective of the women involved. A fascinating read, rich as a fictional story and richer still as a subversive critique of the bible. The story dramatized how attuned the bible was to the male perspective - and how amazingly unattuned it was to the female perspective. As a man, I personally didn't feel insulted like the other reviewer (Andrew) felt by the portrayals of men, but maybe I'm just liberal. I also appreciated seeing how monotheism co-existed with polytheism for so long (long after Abraham smashed idols in his dad's shop), and how women and men may have viewed the introduction of monotheism very differently.
All in all, a fun, moving, thought-provoking, and beautifully-written story. Highly recommended.

40 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The Red Tent

I loved this book! I really enjoyed being told the story from the women's perspective. I would highly recommend it.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Clever story telling

I know its not the bible but it is not the "sacrilege" other reviewer claims it to be. This story is cleverly written and effectively puts the reader directly into the lives and very possible settings that the real Dinah and her mothers faced as the wives of Jacob, and mothers of his sons. I liked that it included not just Dinah's well known brief history but also the history of her mothers and the relationships of her brothers.
The narrator has good voice for this story and was easy to listen to. I am not ashamed to rate this book a 4 star!!Enjoy.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

It's not the Bible

This is a work of fiction, not fact or truth. Anita Diamant has taken a tiny bit of the Bible and created a compelling tale of triumph and tragedy, of happiness and sorrow, of hope and despair. If you are expecting a retelling of the Bible, then you will be disapponted.
The narrator was good, and the background music that is interspersed through the reading is beautiful. I personally think this book is meant to be read aloud, in true oral history fashion.

39 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Opens a new world

This is one of my favorite books of all time! Ms. Diamant's imagery and tone allows the reader to step into the crowded, noisy homestead of the family of Jacob, son of Issac. The daily life of the earliest of God's chosen people is something that is passed over in the Bible in favor of the larger more dramatic issues that they struggled with, especially as it pertains to the life of the women and children. Bringing to life a fairly small slice of a fairly insignificant story in Genesis (Dinah, Jacob's only daughter is stolen and raped by the Prince of a nearby town), this book opened up - for me - the entire world that existed during the Old Testament. Suddenly my Bible, especially the harder to chew first five books of the OT, came springing to life, relevant and interesting like it never had been before. This book IS a work of fiction, it's not the Bible, but what it did for me was bring me closer to the Bible. Over the past ten years since I first read this book, I have read and collected more theological texts than I would have thought possible! Raised by adamantly non-practicing Jehovah's witnesses, I count this book as the key that led me to my faith. My relationship with God was immediately and permanently strengthened by reading this book, and then going back and reading my Bible with new eyes. I also view my relationships with my female family and friends differently, and have given this book as a gift to several of them.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

A Great Read for Women's History Buffs

One of my favorite courses in college was "The History of Women". This course explored the role of women beginning with Eve and went right through until modern times. One of the most interesting areas was exploring women of the Bible. We learned that the cycle of the earth/cycle of life were very much worshipped by women and respected by men until the onset of the "One God". As women were forced to worship the "One God" they forgot their past and no longer felt proud of their roles as women, their monthly cycles or their ability to bring forth new life. Instead they were made to feel ashamed.

The red tent was the place where women would gather when they were menstruating. It was a time to relax and discuss women issues. They were secluded from men and younger girls and older women would attend to the daily chores. It was also where they would go when giving birth or tending to the sick. As I read the story of Dinah and her mothers, I was somewhat envious of their times in the Red Tent and their rejoicing at their ability to be the ones to bring new life into the world.

The audible version was very well done. I only downloaded it as a "2" but think from now on I will download at higher versions to get a richer sound. The music was distorted at this level and the voice somewhat tinny. Still, the narrator did an excellent job and I was completely immersed into Dinah's world.

90 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An Uplifting Midrash

First, I would like to address so many of the previous reviews, who seem to be slaving away under the chains of delusion that make them think this is a work of "Christian Fiction". Just because it is about biblical figures, does not make it Christian Fiction. Christians do not own the bible, and especially don't own the Pentatuch. If one only wants to read Christian fiction and not be "disgusted and polluted" by other cultures, ideas, and ways of life and thinking, then do a little more research about the books you buy and about the authors who write them.

The author is Jewish, and the people she writes about are pagans who are struggling with trying to put on the coat of monotheism. They are converts! This book is Midrash.
Midrash is a way of dealing with biblical stories that goes beyond a simple boiling down of rabbinical legalism. It is an accepted and valuable way of interpereting scripture that keeps the text alive and fresh, and offers possible solutions for massive gaps left in biblical narration. It goes on every time a Jew studies and discusses the Torah, and forms a prayerful opinion of what the underlying meaning of a holy text may hold.

Many Jewish and even Muslim traditions, as well as some Progressive Christian traditions encourage this kind of discussion, supposition and reflection. They seek to learn what God really desires from his creation, and celebrate the reality of the gift of free will and free thought. When you close a religious Cannon what you get is a rotten corpse.

This book does have some very frank references to the human condition, especially where women are concerned. Personally I found them rather clinical, and in no way see how they could be confused with pornography. This is an adult book, but perhaps a mature and well-guided 16 year-old could process this material, but again, only with the proper guidance.

I can see how this book could be considered dangerous and confusing to people who have taken on the yoke of fundamentalist religion of any denomination. Those people might worry that a book like this could damage a fragile,weak, or flawed hold on fundamentalist "faith", especially by new converts or those prone to independant thinking and study.

A compass only points to "N" when the person who is holding it faces true north.

73 people found this helpful