For most of human history, the stories of women have either been written out of our collective memories or they have been simplified into a much shorter narrative that often lacks the colors and the nuance of the full story.
In the Bible, the story of Dinah, the only daughter of the Patriarch Jacob and his first wife, Leah is only known by the fact that she was raped by Shechem. Nothing else is said about her.
In the last twenty years or so, modern writers have looked to the Bible and the often maligned or marginalized women as the protagonists for new stories where these women have been fleshed out and celebrated as full human beings. One of the earliest novels in this genre was The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant.
Two years ago, the book became a TV movie. The cast included Rebecca Ferguson as Dinah, Iain Glen as Jacob and Minnie Drive as Leah.
I read the book many years ago and re-read it just before it hit the small screen. Among the books within this genre, it is one of the best. I expected and hoped that the TV movie would do justice to the novel and to Dinah, a woman whose life story has been lost to history for thousands of years. The Red Tent is not the first and will certainly not the be last book dramatized for the screen where the plot and/or the characters were altered.
As much as I love the book, I felt that the adaptation was lacking. Anita Diamant, as a writer is able to grab the reader and not let go until the final page. The plot was a little slow until the second half, when the story finally gathered steam.
Do I recommend it? Let me put it this way. If you intend on watching the television adaptation, read the book first. Then watch the movie. I personally prefer the book, but someone else may prefer the movie.
Growing up seems to be a universal story. No matter where we are from or who we are, the process of growing and changing is not without it’s pitfalls.
Anita Diamant’s new book, The Boston Girl is the story of Addie Baum. Told from the perspective of an older Addie, she tells her granddaughter Ava the story of her life starting in 1915. In 1915, Addie Baum is the youngest child of Eastern European Jewish immigrants who are still not entirely sure that immigrating to America was the best decision. Exposed to the opportunities that America offers, Addie grabs the world by the tail and does not let go. Along the way, she makes friends, lives through life changing historical events and makes a few mistakes, but in the end, she looks back on her life with satisfaction.
I liked this book, but I like Anita Diamant as a writer. She knows how to write complicated, interesting human characters that the audience can relate to. Addie is representative of many young women of the first half of the last century, especially the American born children of immigrants. These young women, who are American by birth, are not burdened with the immigrant status that their parents and older siblings who were born in Europe have. The world is their oyster and they want to explore that world.
I highly recommend it.
There is an old saying “It’s always darkest before the dawn”.
Anita Diament’s 2010 novel, Day After Night is about four young women who survived the Holocaust and how they find the light after the darkness.
In October of 1945, the survivors of the Nazi Holocaust are trying to make their way to what was then British controlled Palestine. Many are interned in Atlit Internment Camp, a prison for “illegal immigrants” off the coast of Haifa. There are four main characters: Shayndel, a Polish Zionist, Leonie, who is ashamed of her choices during the war, Tedi, a Dutch Jew who was fortunate to find hiding and Zorah, who lived through the concentration camps.
Haunted by the past and afraid to hope, the women forge a friendship while they try to rebuild their lives in a strange new country that they are ready to call home.
I love this book. While the story and characters are set in a specific time and place, it speaks to all of us. We all have dark times in our life, but there is day after night. We just have to have hope and faith.
I recommend this book.
There are three types of women in the Bible: the ones that are named and given as much attention (well, as much attention as women get in the Bible) as the men (i.e. The Matriarchs, Esther, etc), women whose names and stories are flashed by so fast that we hardly notice them (Dinah) and women whom we only know as the daughter of ______ or the wife of _______. These women have no name, no identity, no life other than being someone’s wife or daughter.
A few months ago, I wrote a post that Anita Diament’s best selling novel, The Red Tent, was going to be made into a movie by the people at lifetime.
Dinah is the youngest child and only daughter of the Biblical patriarch Jacob and his first wife, Leah. Inside the Red Tent, women are in control. The cycle of a woman’s life and the knowledge she gains is only known to the women who have access to the Red Tent. Outside, the world belongs to men. Women are mere chattel. As a young women, Dinah falls in love with Shalem, a prince of a city near which her family is staying. The response of her father and brothers to their sister’s new husband is not positive. Having no one to support her from her own family, Dinah relies on her mother in law, who takes Dinah back to her homeland.
I haven’t read this book in a long time. I forgot how good this book is. Ms. Diament’s story of a forgotten Biblical heroine whose story is overshadowed by her father’s and brothers is vivid and full of life. All of the women are full human beings with the same joys and folly’s as the rest of us.
I recommend this book.
It was announced last week that Anita Diamant’s 2007 novel, The Red Tent, will be adapted into a TV movie to air on Lifetime.
I haven’t read this book in a few years, but it is a very good book.
The main character is Dinah, the only daughter of the Jacob and his first wife, Leah. In the Bible, Dinah is barely spoken of, the focus in the story of Jacob, as it is within most of the Bible, is her father and brothers. Most women in the Bible are only referred to as the daughter of _______ or the wife of ________. Some, are glossed over like Dinah, only a small percentage are fully human, with good and bad traits.
Where Ms. Diamant succeeds as a writer is that she fully fleshes out her characters, removing them from the sidelines and making them the center of the story. Dinah, her mother, her grandmother, her father’s other wives are alive and vibrant. It makes the Bible seem interesting and alive.
I recommend this book and I will hopefully be able to recommend this movie.