December, 2015: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

(Book #68) This novel has such a long story behind it within our little group. It was first brought up years ago but was voted down by one member no longer with the group and I was also not a fan. I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m not interested in any read with too much religious content. Well, one member, I won’t mention any names, Geri, would not let this go! At a gathering last summer, Linda noted that it seemed like we’d talked about The Red Tent at every meeting she’d attended, so why didn’t we just give in, include it on our book list and finally be done with it! That brought us to tonight. Marcia championed the pro- Red Tent side and I was the only one who really did not like it at all — but three of the girls hadn’t read it because of time issues or lack of enthusiasm. 

When I looked at Goodreads, I noticed that most of those who give The Red Tent a low rating do so either because of religious concerns, i.e. “It takes a crap on the Bible.” or because they admit they aren’t the target audience for a book “configured for female readership.” I have neither of those reasons for disliking the book — I am not protective of the Bible and I am a post-menopausal woman — as one reviewer indicated we are the real target audience.  This is why I disliked the book: I have always been told that it’s a story about the female bond as the title suggests, and frankly, I don’t need all the menstrual bonding, but if it’s supposed to be about our bond, why does Dinah leave all the women she loves behind when it was the men who were at fault for the death of her husband? If it’s a book about the continuation of the line of family, why does Dinah write off her son and walk away?

And the prose makes me crazy. First, I hope never to read another sentence about blood. But beyond that, it’s as if the writing is a choice not to be clever or insightful, or playful, but just to sound Biblical. I’m going to quote another reviewer when it comes to the prose. This is from Aaron:  Consider the overwritten “It was a simple song known to every child and thus to every adult who had been a child.” It is beyond me what the final phrase is supposed to add here. Who are these adults who were not children? And thinking in terms of more a symbolic sense of lacking a childhood do to a tough youth doesn’t help. Children have these infantile songs passed along to them regardless, whether or not their childhood was filled with magic and joy. I guess Diamant felt that overwriting made it sound Biblical. I’m sure someone could tell me all about myself given my fervid distaste for this book, but I don’t want to know.

Also this:
The writing reaches its zenith/apex in one of its most ridiculous sex scenes: “We made love very slowly that night, as though for the last time, weeping. One of his tears fell in my mouth, where it became a blue sapphire, source of strength and eternal hope”. Who is this even supposed to appeal to?  Clearly not to me. My friend and book club pal MADE me read this (when I told her I wouldn’t like a book about blood) and I will never forgive her. I’m just kidding, I’ll forgive her. Maybe. At least now, we don’t have to talk about it any more.

Geri did her usual lovely job of hosting our Christmas gathering and cookie exchange.  She ordered in food from the restaurant Old Jerusalem and it was delicious.