Only three "classic" reviews left after this one. Still not sure what I'll be doing after I've run out of them. -M.R.
Context: I still have very fond memories of reading this book, although I'm not sure I'd still agree with the sweeping generalizations I've made in this review. Unfortunately, I read this book before I started keeping a book journal, and I don't remember anymore what part I've eluded to that made me cry. Also, fun fact: the first book to make me cry was Catherine Marshall's Christy, which inspired the Christy tv series that I loved with my entire nine year-old heart and can't find on youtube for some reason.
Year Published: 1997
First Sentence: We have been lost to each other for so long.
Oh wow. First things first, this is only the second book ever to make me cry. Seriously, I shed tears over this thing.
And there's no punch line that I was crying only because it was so terrible, either. This was an excellent, excellent book. I will hazard that males may not find it quite so enjoyable. As I informed one friend, it's pretty "womanish."
The story is that of Dinah, one of the many women in the Bible mentioned only in passing. However, Dinah is given several verses worth of a story, where most are only named. Apparently she was no Esther, but her story was interesting and bloody enough to be noted. You don't need to be Jewish or Christian to appreciate this story, though. It isn't preachy, and even though I grabbed my Bible again and read a bit of it because I'd forgotten the story as it is told there, you don't need to do that either.
The only danger is in believing Diamant too much. This is after all, what she imagines Dinah felt, not what was actually experienced. By which I mean that maybe what Diamant describes as love really was rape.
Or then again, maybe not.
There is stunning depth and tragedy here, and Dinah's story is not only evocative, but interesting. This was a bestseller for a reason. Again I will caution that this book would probably not entertain the vast majority of men to the extent that it entertained me. First of all, it is principally (pretty close to entirely) about women, and the women's world which we've all but lost. There are no battles, although there is murder and lots of overall sensual earthiness (which I don't know how to describe any better than that).
This book made me think, which I appreciate. So much that is written isn't designed to provoke thought, but simply to entertain. The Red Tent accomplishes both, not necessarily with 'style and panache' but rather with simplicity and grace of storytelling. Basically, what I concluded from reading this thing and enjoying it so much, is that we women love our right to vote, and being 'persons,' but deep down we miss this entire separate world that used to be ours.
And I won't tell you what part made me cry.