The Red Tent

Version: Unabridged
Author: Anita Diamant
Narrator: Carol Bilger
Genres: Christianity
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published In: January 2002
# of Units: 12 CDs
Length: 12 hours
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Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable contribution in modern fiction: a new perspective of female life in biblical society. It is a vast and stirring work described as what the Bible might have been had it been written by God's daughters instead of sons.

Far beyond the traditional women-of-the-Bible sagas in both impact and vigor, The Red Tent is based upon a mention in Genesis of Jacob's only female offspring—his daughter, Dinah.

Author Anita Diamant, in the voice of Dinah, gives an insider's look at the details of women's lives in biblical times and a chronicle of their earthy stories and long-ignored histories. The red tent of the title is the place where women were sequestered during their cycles of birthing, menses, and illness. It is here that Dinah hears the whispered stories of her four mothers—Jacob's wives Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah—and tells their tales to us in remarkable and thought-provoking oratories. Familiar passages from the Bible take on new life as Dinah fills in what the Bible has left out—the lives of women. Dinah tells us of her initiation into the religious and sexual practices of the tribe; Jacob's courtship with Rachel and Leah; the ancient world of caravans, farmers, midwives, and slaves; her ill-fated sojourn in the city of Sechem; her years in Canaan; and her half-brother Joseph's rise in Egypt.

Skillfully interweaving biblical tales with characters of her own invention, the author re-creates the life of Dinah providing an illuminating portrait of a courageous woman and the life she might have lived. A new view of the panorama of life in biblical times emerges from the female perspective, and the red tent itself becomes a symbol of womanly strength, love, and wisdom.

The Red Tent is one of those extremely rare publishing phenomenons—a little promoted, but dynamically successful book (over 250,000 copies sold) that owes its success to enthusiastic word-of-mouth endorsements. Now, for the first time, this sweeping saga, which has struck a chord with so many modern-day women, comes to life as a much-anticipated audiobook.

Reviews (20)

excellent book

Written by Anonymous on January 11th, 2013

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This was my second time to read the book. I actually got so much more of the details by listening to the book. The story is so excellently written. It is as if the author was allowing you to travel back in time as she told the story. There were sad parts and happy parts, as is the story of life.

The Red Tent - Loved it!

Written by Anonymous on April 16th, 2010

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I loved this story, the more so after having finished it. I read a lot of historical fiction, and you can tell the author did her homework. For those who feel it is not biblically correct, how do you really know? The Bible was not an eyewitness account. This book is a very believable account from a woman's point of view. Dinah is a character easy to sympathize with, and I was fascinated by the tale of her life. And death! I was a little put off by the narrator's voice at first - I felt it should have held a more foreign accent - but grew used to it quickly.


Written by Anonymous on February 26th, 2010

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Parts of this were appalling; parts were exhausting; parts exhilarating; parts tragic, but I loved the entire thing. Have thought about it over and over and am considering re-renting it when my book queue gets down to less than two pages long. Lots to think about here; well worth the listen.

The Red Tent

Written by Anonymous on August 26th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Wow, what a great book! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone! Although, a bit of a warning...some really sad parts that will cause a few tears! Well worth it in my opinion!

Red Tent Review

Written by Anonymous on March 24th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Enjoyed this book. Kind of wish I had my own Red Tent sometimes. I would enjoy spending 3 days or so secluded with my best girl friends. While the story was loosely based on a very minor biblical reference, and having read the other reviews and have found that some folks find this book offensive because it is loosely based on a biblical tale, it is just a very well written book. I also enjoyed the narration. The voice was melodic and enjoyable to listen to. I will recommend this book to others.


Written by Anonymous on August 19th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This was one of the best stories of the female life I have read. There was no soft porn involved in this book as another reader eluded to. This book is perfect just the way it is. I would recommended it to any women interested in finding out how hard life in Egypt was and what women had to endure to make it there.

The Red Tent

Written by Anonymous on May 31st, 2008

  • Book Rating: 1/5

I had to stop listening to this book when I came to the part mentioning bestiality for the second time. It can be said that men took pleasure in unnatural ways without word pictures. Soft porn. To protect what goes into my mind, I had to put it down and will warn all others who want to read this.

Red Tent

Written by Anonymous on May 27th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 2/5

I really hated this book. I've tried to think how I would feel about it if it weren't a perversion of the characters from a beloved story in Holy Scripture. I think I would still hate it. I even disliked the narrator. I couldn't stomach listening to her overly emotional style. The story is monotonous and depressing and the male characters are almost universally detestable. Plus the unpleasant details that we have to suffer through-- such as a primitive circumcision-- just made me wish I had never started this book. It might have been easier to read it so I could skim over the less palatable sections. It reads like a romance novel set in biblical times. I just can't recommend it.

the red tent

Written by Regina Cestaro on January 31st, 2008

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This was one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time. The characters came to life. It is very informative historically which ads a great deal of realism to the tale. A very interesting overview of life for women in bibical times.

I would read/listen to this one again

Written by Anonymous on October 31st, 2007

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Excellent book. Wonderful insight to the relationship of women and the many roles in their lives. Put it on your list of must read/listen.

Author Details

Author Details

Diamant, Anita

"Anita Diamant is a prize-winning journalist whose work has appeared regularly in the Boston Globe Magazine and Parenting magazine. She is the author of five books about contemporary Jewish practice: Choosing a Jewish Life, Bible Baby Names, The New Jewish Baby Book, The New Jewish Wedding, and Living a Jewish Life (with H. Cooper). She lives in West Newton, MA, with her husband and daughter, Emilia, to whom the book is dedicated.

Diamant says it was the relationship between Leah and Rachel that stimulated her thinking about The Red Tent. ""The Biblical story that pits the two sisters against one another never sat right with me. The traditional view of Leah as the ugly and/or spiteful sister, and of Jacob as indifferent to her, seemed odd in light of the fact that the Bible gives them nine children together...As I re-read Genesis over the years, I settled on the story of Dinah, their daughter. The drama and her total silence (Dinah does not utter a single word in the Bible) cried out for explanation, and I decided to imagine one.""

Aiding her work was ""midrash,"" the ancient and still vital literary form, which means ""search"" or ""investigation.""

""Historically, the rabbis used this highly imaginative form of storytelling to make sense of the elliptical nature of the Bible-to explain, for example, why Cain killed Abel...The compressed stories and images in the Bible are rather like photographs. They don't tell us everything we want or need to know. Midrash is the story about what happened before and after the photographic flash.""

She points out that ""The Red Tent is not a translation but a work of fiction. Its perspective and focus-by and about the female characters-distinguishes it from the Biblical account in which women are usually peripheral and often totally silent. By giving Dinah a voice and by providing texture and content to the sketchy Biblical descriptions, my book is a radical departure from the historical text."""