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Of mothers and daughters.

I just got back from my monthly book club meeting about an hour ago and wow, what a great discussion! So much to talk about... and this time most of it actually relevant to the book we read... LOL This month we read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. The premise is:
Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons in the Book of Genesis.

Told in Dinah's voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoil of ancient womanhood - the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of her mothers - Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah - the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts to sustain her through a hard-working youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate, immediate connection.

Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of biblical women's society.
One of the big things that struck our group was the Jacobite women's practice of celebrating a girl's entrance into womanhood. Today, Jewish girls have a bat mitzvah; Hispanic girls celebrate with a quinceaƱera; society girls "come out" at a debutante ball. But for most of us American girls, that day passes quietly, at best. We have taken the essence of our femininity and made it shameful. Even worse, we have become alienated from each other with the destruction of the red tent; instead of several days a month spent in commune with our sisters, we gossip and envy and fight over family-vs.-career on national television. Legends are forgotten. Traditions are abandoned. Communication in the family breaks down. No wonder our kids don't know how (or when) to grow up.

But as in so many things, we, as women, have a choice. And my friends and I choose to reach out to our daughters, to teach them responsibility, so that when they reach adulthood, they will be ready. And we will not let them feel ashamed for their womanhood but we will celebrate it. A day with just the girls, shopping, a pedicure, an all-day crop... whatever we are into at the time. A celebration of the girl she was, and the woman she is becoming. We will set up a new "red tent" in our hearts.

...And look, just like that, one little book has changed the world. How cool is that?

1 comment:

  1. Amazing! I'm definitely going to go get that book now! Thanks for the review! Kim
    PS. My mom took me out for supper - just me and her to celebrate. It was a really special moment for me!


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