Friday, July 16, 2010

Late night pleasure

There is nothing quite like the feeling of staving off sleep, straining one's eyes to lap up the sweet words spun in the final chapters of a truly wonderful book. Tonight, I found that peace, that envelopment, in Anita Diamant's The Red Tent.

This biblical fiction novel weaves an elaborate tale with original basis from late chapters of the book of Genesis about Dinah, the sole daughter of infamous Jacob, son of Isaac. I have always wondered and silently grieved the lack of stories about the women conceiving the champions, the heroes of biblical tales. The mothers, the sisters, the midwives, the servants. Who were they? What were they like? Whom did they fear and who feared them for the power of life held deep inside to give to the world? Diamant creates a beautifully believable tale around Dinah, her mother Leah and aunts Zilpah, Bilhah, and gorgeous Rachel.
I consumed every word of this novel and cherished the effect it has had on the appreciation of the mystery of my own womanhood. What if we still had the Red Tent to rest in, to celebrate the new moon and the blessing bred in us as women, sisters? Ah, at times, with all of our progress, I still yearn for the simplest opportunities to intimately share in the joys of the feminine heart. No woman can read this book and not understand its importance and ferocity. We are all united, we hold up half the sky.

"Why had no one told me that my body would become a battlefield, a sacrifice, a test? Why did I not know that birth is the pinnacle where women discover the courage to become mothers?"

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