Saturday, September 22, 2012

Homage to the Menstrual Cycle

I delayed reading The Red Tent by Anita Diamant for a long time, because of what I thought I knew about it.  What I expected was a book about women in 14th century England who were forced to go to an island (island?  why did I think an island?) and live in red tents each month when they had their periods.  I imagined them scheming against the men, and discovering their own strengths.  In short, I thought The Red Tent would be "an homage to a menstrual cycle", to quote Tim Gunn's recent commentary on an unfortunate Project Runway dress.

Basically, I was all wrong. 

The Red Tent is set in the time of Jacob, from the book of Genesis.  The main character, Dinah, tells the story of Jacob and his many sons from her perspective.  Dinah is apparently mentioned in the Old Testament, and is better known for being the only sister of the famous Joseph, of the Technicolor Dreamcoat.  Genesis 34 tells the story of Dinah's rape.  In The Red Tent, Dinah tells the tale from her point of view, and includes her version of what happened to her before and after.

Yes, there is a red tent, and women go there when they have their periods.  However, it is considered an honor to get to go to the tent.  The women of Dinah's family were all on the same schedules, so the red tent was a place where they could get together and tell their stories to each other.  While there, they also were freed from their regular daily chores, and were waited on by others.

Reading The Red Tent reminded me of something that I forgot to mention when I was discussing The Muslim Next Door by Sumbul Ali-Karamali - the perception that Muslims have many wives.  Ali-Karamali mentioned that it is very uncommon now for a Muslim to have multiple wives, but that in the past it was common, with Muhammad having several.  She also pointed out though, that in other religions, multiple wives were also common.  In fact, Jacob had 4 wives, including two who were full sisters, and two more who were born of the same father as the first two wives, but with slaves as mothers, and were treated as slaves themselves.

The Red Tent got off to a slow start, but picked up, and was a worthwhile read.  If I had known my Old Testament better, I may have liked the book more, as I would have known what was coming, and appreciated the differences between this book and the Bible's story.

That's one more down for the Off the Shelf Challenge, and a challenge double countsie, since I listened to it on CDs that I checked out of my library.  Now I just need to read one more book to complete the Support Your Library Challenge.

In Other News:  Guess who "liked" my Goodreads review of The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont?  Amber Dermont.  One of my favorite things about Goodreads is how easy it is for authors to interact with readers.  I wish that I could "like" her like!

Running Commentary:  Just a quick brag - my son made the varsity cross country team as a 13 year old freshman at his high school!  I may not be a runner, but I seem to have become a Cross Country Mom.  Now to convince the politicians that we are just as important as the Soccer Moms . . .

Next up on CD:  Bear with me.  The next book that I will listen to on CD is World Without End by Ken Follett.  This is 45 hours of story, on 36 discs, and it will be the longest book that I have ever listened to, if I make it through.  I finished The Red Tent a couple of days ago, and since I've done a lot of driving lately (including picking up another 1/4 cow!) I am already on disc 5. 

Still Reading:  Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst


  1. Nice Posting!! Keep it up!! Increase your chances of getting pregnant you need to spend a little time understanding your menstrual cycle and ovulation calendar therefore being able to predict ovulation.

  2. Thanks MK, but I think I'll pass on another pregnancy! For my other readers, MK's link will bring you to an ad for an ovulation predictor. I will leave it up, in case you are interested, but wanted to warn you.


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