10 March 2011

Mrs Readalot and The Red Tent


Mrs Readalot may have been busy lately but she is never too busy to read.
If Mrs Readalot doesn't have a book on the go, she feels just a little bit lost. Especially since there is hardly anything decent on the telly these days.
In her last post, Mrs Readalot was eager to get her bookwormy hands on The Red Tent - a book she heard many friends rave about.

Then Mrs Readalot rediscovered the joys of the Public Library - and the bonus that Book Requests are now Freeeeeeeee! Nothing could hold her back now.

From the comfort of her home computer Mrs Readalot requested the book... and lo and behold, within two days she got an automated message on her voicemail telling her The Red Tent was waiting for her.

Just as Mrs Readalot was about to devour this much-anticipated morsel, she spotted a review on her friend Widge's Blog: "The Red Tent - My Thoughts On..."

Oh how her fingers itched to click her mouse on that post and read Widge's book thoughts. But no. She didn't want to be influenced one way or the other, so she resisted (and waited til she'd finished the book).

And now here she is to tell you what she thought of The Red Tent...

Mrs Readalot's Thoughts:

The Red Tent. I heard mention of this book in all kinds of circles. The title seemed to whisper to me... the reddddd tennnnnt... read me...reeeeead meeee...

 I had no idea what the story was about, I'm just always on the hunt for a good read.
As it turns out, it's a story about women: Mothers, childbirth, periods... all set in the distant past.

It's the story of Dinah, the only daughter of the Bible Patriarch Jacob, and her relationship with her four mothers, her twelve brothers and some fairly dramatic events.

But if you think that because the story is populated with Biblical characters it is a Christian book, you'd be wrong. It aint preachy. It isn't orthodox. It's even a little controversial.

A picture of a Red Tent, by Mrs Readalot

The author, Anita Diamant, paints a vivid picture of a way of life we can only imagine.
Anita carefully researched every detail from recipes to what women did at their "time of the month."
The Red Tent, where women were secluded during their monthlies, sounds like a great idea to me. Three days a month in a tent with your favourite girls? Nothing to do but tell stories and be waited on? Yeh. Sounds Good.

I enjoyed Anita's writing style. Her female characters came alive, the relationships between them felt authentic and real, believable.

But some parts left me a little... uncomfortable.
Oh call me a crazy bible-basher if you want. No don't. But I found some of the male characters... disappointing. I didn't like her depiction of Joseph. Joseph is one of my heroes. I just couldn't reconcile that guy with her portrayal.
I also struggled some with the way "the god of Jacob" who she called "El" was depicted as a bloodthirsty coldhearted monster. But the fertility gods and household idols radiated warmth and meaning.

But hey, that's just me. I spent my childhood in Sunday School.
And I know she's just telling a story, not trying to re-write the bible.

Overall I enjoyed the book. Especially the first half. The depiction of women's lives in those days was fascinating and beautifully done. I lost my way a bit in the middle, when those beautiful mother-characters departed the story. I felt their loss too, Widge.

But it's definitely an interesting and well written book. You could do a lot worse than snuggle up with it on a cold rainy night.

MRS READALOT RATES The Red Tent: ♥ ♥ ♥


So there you have it. Mrs Readalot finally made it to The Red Tent. And now she is at a loss. She has no books on the go at all. She needs your recommendations!

Mrs Readalot Starts a Book Club!
After Mrs Readalot's last post there was a lot of interest in a creating a Book Club. But until yesterday Mrs Readalot didn't know how it might work. Until she got an email from BlogFrog to say that they have a new feature for "embedding communities" right into your blog.

So Mrs Readalot checked it out and decided it was easy peasy and the perfect forum for a Book Club. So it's all there ready to go. It's easy to start discussions, and have actual dialogue - something blogger comments doesn't really cater for.

Here it is: Mrs Readalot's Online Book Club

Mrs Readalot has started a couple of discussions...
  • She's asking you for your ideas on how to run the book club here
  • She asks for your thoughts (or links to reviews) on the Red Tent here...
  • She asks for your recommendations for great books to read here (cos she's run out of reading material and is starting to get the shakes)

Mrs Readalot would love you to join her Book Club.
It does involve signing up for BlogFrog and creating yet another profile... but she hopes you will do it. And then to join the book Club you just click "follow".

Go on, join in and lets have the coolest funnest booky love club ever :)

P.S. For Widge's Most Excellent Review of The Red Tent Click Here

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Gail said...

I'm gonna read it too - in China! I just need to buy a copy to take. Not a lot of reading head-space at the moment!!Gorgeous pic you drew there!

Broot said...

Three days? Three days? I wish. I keep meaning to read this one. Now I will have to find it at MY library.

Anonymous said...

Hey - nice blog, just looking around some blogs, seems a pretty nice platform you are using. I'm currently using Wordpress for a few of my sites but looking to change one of them over to a platform similar to yours as a trial run. Anything in particular you would recommend about it?

Patti Hanan said...

This is a book I've been meaning to read for years. I enjoyed your review. I followed you over from Redriters "Woo Us To Your Blog" and am a new follower. I think your art work is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

So glad you finally had a chance to read this, Simoney - it is one of my absolute favourites!

I think the description of "El" is deliberately written that way. As it says in the book, Dinah spends nearly all of her time with her mothers, so naturally she would relate more to the gods they worship and revere rather than the one her father does. As someone who has a personal relationship with God, it is understandable that you feel a little affronted on His behalf, because you know him to be full of love, mercy and compassion. But in those days the separation between men and women was immense - even literal (isn't that what the red tent is for? :) ) - and that spills over into every aspect of Dinah's life. I felt she never tried to understand El because he had nothing to do with women's affairs - just like the rest of the male figureheads that surrounded her. And we all know that ignorance leads to misunderstanding and fear.

I loved the first half of the book as well - the stories of the mothers. Sometimes I feel that is why I long for a daughter - so I have someone to pass my stories on to. Daughters are the keepers of their mother's hearts!

Jen said...

I feel the same way when I run out of reading books

Neat drawing of the Red Tent

LOVE the idea of the book club

Anonymous said...

Hey there MrsReadAlot!
Glad you enjoyed the book.
just a couple points form my side of the pond ; )
I totally get why you struggled with the way "The God of Jacob was depicted", but remember in that day that is exactly how God was looked upon...the character of God changed when Jesus came...one of the reasons Jesus came was to reveal the character of God. God was fire and brim stone, God was to be feared. It is how the old testament people saw God...over and over there are stories of the rath and fear of God. I like what Helen said about it too....interesting perspective.
I actually appreciated her depiction of the male characters. Sometimes, being brought up with bible stories, those stories can almost take on a fairy tale aspect to them...I like the grit because it reminds me that those people where as human as me...with flaws and human ugliness and yet they were instrumental in God's plan.
Does that make sense?
just had to throw in my 2 cents.

love and light

love the picture

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