65. THE RED TENT, BY ANITA DIAMANT
Recommended by Trisha Cook, on Goodreads. I am not very well versed in biblical knowledge, most of what I know I got by osmosis from books, movies, and other people, and that was probably a factor in my reading. The only thing I know about the famous rape of Dinah was that it happened (?) and then her brothers demanded everybody get circumcised (?) and then they killed everybody (?). So, as you can see, not a lot of knowledge...
Synopsis: It’s a fictionalized account of the women in the old testament Bible, centering on, and told by, Dinah.
Overall enjoyment: I liked it well enough. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I had more knowledge of the original stories. The actual rape of Dinah went pretty much as I knew, but all the other stories on her family tree and what the men did were a mystery to me... And she doesn’t always clarify them, so I was quite often left imagining what happened. (No, not enough to actually read the bible, but thanks for suggesting.)
Plot: I suppose, if you have a better knowledge of biblical stories, you’d probably be able to appreciate it more than I did. Still, I liked it well enough. Not innovative, but solid. The first part was much better than the second, and the second, and the second was better than the third; so it could be said that the ending was a bit disappointing.
Characters: This was the best part, for me. They were exactly what I would imagine biblical characters to be. I love how she effectively cut any male off the story, turning them into ornaments, symbols, and metaphors for the feminine story (much like, as far as I know, happens to women in the bible--and in many other books, for that matter).
World/setting: It’s that famous Canaan-Egypt setting. Once again, I feel a bit inadequate to judge, knowing so little of how this is supposed to be. Still, I felt she did a good job constructing and relaying this world.
Writing style: It feels biblical to me, but, then again, who am I to judge? And, just like the plot, she writes better in the beginning than she does at the end.
Representation: Good enough, considering it’s essentially a bible story.
Political correctness: It’s a very feminine book, no doubt about it. It is a bit naïve in this femininity, though. This ideal, of all women together celebrating a Mother Goddess and leaving men alone to their business but all the while “knowing better” feels kind of outdated to me, like a 70s women’s commune. Not to mention, she repeatedly defines femininity with bleeding every month and having the ability to bear children.
Up next: The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu