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.
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.