Friday, July 9, 2010

The Red Tent

This month's book club choice was The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.  It is a fictional retelling of the story of Dinah from the Bible.  The book is broken in the major segments of her life: the marriage of her parents and the birth of Jacob's children, Dinah's marriage (Rape?) to an Egyptian, and Dinah at the end of her days.

I really enjoyed the story.  And not just because I was already familiar with the story's characters.  I am, after all, named after Jacob's mother Rebekah.  But also because it's the same story we have been told and retold countless times in Sunday school, but from a different perspective.  It was charming to become lost in what it might have been like to be a woman in the time period where your bride price was paid in sheep, goats, and grain, and life was really in the details of everyday living.  I enjoy the simple and yet often overlooked detailing of what it took to exist in the world in those days. 

This fictional account followed the story in the Bible enough that I found myself trying to remember which pieces were laid out in Genesis already and which were invented by the author.  So much so, that I actually got my Bible out to study those passages.  I found myself making references back and forth and asking my mother questions.  AND reading the foot notes.

Now that, in my opinion, is a good work of fiction.

The only thing that I couldn't match up....and maybe it doesn't matter, is how much labor (time) did Jacob actually pay for the bride price of both Rachel and Leah?  I always thought it was seven years.  Because as an impatient person here, I remember thinking, No way is anything worth waiting seven years for.  Let alone twice over.  In the Red Tent it was seven months.  That, in my opinion, is complete do-able.  Maybe it's a translation difference?

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