Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cannonball Read, Book 2: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

This is a book that I'd been meaning to read for years and years -- it came out in 1997. I'd seen it tons of times and always found some other book that looked more interesting or was on sale at that moment. I finally got around to buying it last month.

The story is a retelling of the biblical story of Jacob and all his sons, but this time focusing on the story of his wives and his only daughter, Dinah. From what I vaguely remember from religion classes in elementary school, the details about the women are pretty sparse, so outside the basic foundation of the story, the author created most of the story. The first quarter of the book concentrates on the stories of the lives of Jacob's four wives, which are told quickly with broad strokes and was my favorite part of the book. The rest of the book tells the story of Dinah, going into much more detail, and passing from her childhood through to her death.

It's not exactly great literature. It doesn't make you think anything other than "oh, that's horrible" or "yay for her!"-- characters and events are pretty much either bad or good, there's not a lot of gray going on here. The characters are also almost all one-note: the wonderfully understanding and generous midwife or the arrogant, violent brother.

However, it's the perfect book for an airplane ride or for the beach -- the story is interesting and it pulls you in. There's a lot of fascinating information woven in about the way lives were lived 2000 years ago. And it flies by quickly, I think I finished the whole thing in about 3 1/2 hours.

Basically, it's a snack of a book. You read it, you feel satisfied, but a few hours later you already have a craving for something a bit more substantial.

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