Monday, November 5, 2007

The Red Tent

I'm so close to finishing this book, but I can't bear to pick it back up and read the last 20 pages. It's been a slog so far. I'm amazed I've read as much as I have. I picked it up on a whim at the bookstore a week ago when I dashed in to grab a gift card for a birthday party we were late getting to. The book was right at the front and had a big sign saying it was a special printing in honor of the book's 10th anniversary. I figured that any book that had a special 10th anniversary printing must be worth reading. Plus it was a NYT best seller. I should have remembered that Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh have both had NYT best sellers, so that label doesn't mean much.

I'm sure there are lots of women who have and who will love this book. It's set in old testament days and is about Dinah, sister of Joseph - Joseph with the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I had hoped there would be some real historical lessons woven through the story, but no. It's supposed to give voices to the women of the old testament, who are mentioned in passing and don't have a real role in the Bible. But I'm not sure the author has succeeded here.

Most of the action takes place in the "red tent" of the title, the special tent where women are banished for three days during that time of the month because they are unclean. Diamate, the author, presents this tent as a magical place, where women bond with each other and celebrate the teachings of the women who went before them, blah, blah, blah. I found it stifling and overly mother-earthy.

So maybe I'll finish it some day and find out what happens to Dinah in Egypt, where she flees after her brothers slaughter her husband and all the men in his village. Or maybe I won't.

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