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  Library Journal Review

The Red Tent is an attempt to breathe life into the story of Jacob's daughter, Dinah, who is known in an episode in the book of Genesis as a woman dishonored by Shalem and the cause of a bloody massacre. Dinah herself narrates this novel, giving a new perspective on herself, Jacob's wives, and her famous half-brother, Joseph. This is a celebration of women and their work: of life, birth, cooking, cleaning, sewing, gardening, and even dying. The book is interesting though marred by passages that stretch the willing suspension of disbelief, e.g., Dinah directly addresses a contemporary audience, she talks about her own death, and a few similar moments that take the listener out of the tale. Carol Bilger does apt work with what she's given, providing a subdued performance that generally suits the material, which is short on dialog and long on description. The music that ends each side adds to the mood of the story while also letting the listener know that it's time to flip the cassette or change the tape. Having enjoyed a strong readership, The Red Tent in audio should also find an audience. Recommended for larger collections. Adrienne Furness, Maplewood Community Lib., Rochester, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

The story of Dinah is one of the most shocking in the Bible. The only daughter of Jacob is raped by a Canaanite prince, and in revenge, Jacob's sons trick the Canaanites and murder them. Here Diamant gives the ever-silent Dinah her own voice, and the story she tells is a much different one, one in which she is not raped but loved by the Canaanite--and then cruelly betrayed by her brothers. This is also a saga of women, of Dinah and her four mothers, Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah, the wives of Jacob, who all raised her. The women of Jacob's family live the most important parts of their lives in the red tent, where women go once a month, where they have their babies, and where they tell their stories. In the Bible, emphasis is placed, above all, on the importance of bearing sons, but as Diamant tells it, "Women wanted daughters to keep their memories alive," and this novel is rich with memory. Diamant is a wonderful storyteller, not only bringing to life these women about whom the Bible tells us so little but also stirringly evoking a place and time. As with the best writers of historical fiction, Diamant makes readers see there's not so very much difference between people across the eons, at least when it comes to trial and tragedy, happiness and love. --Ilene Cooper

  Kirkus Review

Cubits beyond most Woman-of-the-Bible sagas in sweep and vigor, this fictive flight based on the Genesis mention of Dinah, offspring of Jacob and Leah, disclaims her as a mere ``defiled'' victim and, further, celebrates the ancient continuity and unity of women. Dinah was the cherished only daughter of ``four mothers,'' all of whom bore sons by Jacob. It is through daughters, though, that the songs, stories, and wisdom of the mothers and grandmothers are remembered. Dinah tells the mothers' tales from the time that that shaggy stranger Jacob appears in the land of his distant kin Laban. There are Jacob's marriages to the beautiful Rachel and the competent Leah, ``reeking of bread and comfort.'' Also bedded are Zilpah, a goddess worshipper who has little use for men, and tiny, dark, and silent Bilhah. Hard-working Jacob is considerate to the equally hard-working women, who, in the ``red tent''--where they're sequestered at times of monthly cycles, birthing, and illness--take comfort and courage from one another and household gods. The trek to Canaan, after Jacob outwits Laban, offers Dinah wonders, from that ``time out of life'' when the traveling men and women laugh and sing together, on to Dinah's first scent of a great river, ``heady as incense, heavy and dark.'' She observes the odd reunion of Jacob and Esau, meets her cruel and proud grandmother, and celebrates the women's rite of maturity. She also loves passionately the handsome Prince Shalem, who expects to marry her. Dinah's tale then follows the biblical account as Jacob's sons trick and then slaughter a kingdom. Diamant's Dinah, mad with grief, flees to Egypt, gives birth to a son, suffers, and eventually finds love and peace. With stirring scenery and a narrative of force and color, a readable tale marked by hortatory fulminations and voluptuous lamentations. For a liberal Bible audience with a possible spillover to the Bradley relationship.
Summary
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 are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. Told in Dinah's voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood--the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of her mothers--Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah--the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through a hard-workingyouth, 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 society.<br>
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