I have had the book for a long time, just never got around to reading it, until I just got this book on tape! So, I heard the book, then read the book again, so some of my comments may be reflecting the voice that I heard as I “read” the book.
Red Tent is a book about the clan of Jacob, who presumably lived about 2000 years before Christ. Thus, this book captures an era that was four thousand years ago. One of the biggest things that stands out is the timelessness of the story and that of the story telling. I am yet to make up my mind as to whether that is a strength or a weakness of the book. If the book’s articulation is correct, we can conclude that lovers’ games, their nervous first contacts, love and rivalries between siblings, interaction between cousins, loss felt by a mother when children grow up, none of those emotions are any different now than they were four thousand years ago.
About the only thing that seems to be different four thousand years ago and now is the ability to travel. Due to limited means, people traveled less far back then, and it used to take longer (Duh!) . Another thing that has changed is the apparent lack of jealousy of husband’s desires in those times by the multiple wives.
Author Anita Diamant writes incredibly poetically, and the book written in Dinah’s mellifluous first person voice is a delight to read as well as to hear.
One of the criticisms I heard of this book was a rabbi’s angry tirade about how this book is trying to distort history since the concept of the red tent does not exist in Jewish tradition. When I read this book, I did not get the hint that this concept exists in Jewish tradition, only that it was in this particular family as a small family tradition, and the entire family story is a piece of fiction anyway. There is no way to please an orthodox religious person.
A significant portion of the book is about child bearing and midwifery, and those sections are handled very delicately by the author.
All in all, a great book – highly recommended.