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Rachel-K
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First Impressions

Please use this thread to give your impressions as you start reading. Because the novel is now one decade published, maybe you are returning to it because it is a favorite? What strikes you afresh if you are opening the book for a second read?
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shatril
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Re: First Impressions

Such a pleasant surprise. I love this book. So interesting, so worth the time.
Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?
~ Henry Ward Beecher ~
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DSaff
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Re: First Impressions

I just started reading "The Red Tent" for the second or third time, and am totally captivated all over again. Ms. Diamont's words paint wonderfully vivid pictures that take me from my world into Dinah's. I love reading as if I am really listening to Dinah tell her story - I feel like she is here talking to me. This is a book well worth the first read, even more worthy of the second, third....
DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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TeriSueT
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Re: First Impressions

This is now my first reading of “TRT.” I was drawn into Dinah’s story by the prologue ... promises of intimacy and connectedness with Dinah, herself ... and to ancestral womanhood. The promise was kept.
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Laurabairn
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Re: First Impressions

I'm struck by the camaraderie of the women...how cool is it they have this ancient support group...each other. Since life was so rugged and the men so capricious with their favor,they found joy with each other. Modern women do this with less success...
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Anita_Diamant
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Re: First Impressions



Laurabairn wrote:
I'm struck by the camaraderie of the women...how cool is it they have this ancient support group...each other. Since life was so rugged and the men so capricious with their favor,they found joy with each other. Modern women do this with less success...




Actually, I think modern women do this quite well, given the stresses of our day. We discount the phone time, emails, greeting cards, but those are very real. Please remember that my renderings of these relationships are imagined ... and also based (not literally at all) on the loving friendships I share with my women friends.

AD
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Carmenere_lady
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Re: First Impressions

I love the concept of the Red Tent! How great is it to be tucked away for a few days a month when you're at your most irritable, grumpy and bloated self. Mmmmm, I wonder how the Red Room would work in my house!!
Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
Voltaire
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Peppermill
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Re: First Impressions


Carmenere_lady wrote:
I love the concept of the Red Tent! How great is it to be tucked away for a few days a month when you're at your most irritable, grumpy and bloated self. Mmmmm, I wonder how the Red Room would work in my house!!

A haven, red or otherwise, a room or a chair or a desk or ..., permanent or temporary, indoors or out, is a wonderful thing to create for oneself. Some women I know create a quiet spot with a picture or two, something for each of the senses, perhaps an appropriate book, as place for a few minutes each day -- perhaps at special or specific times, perhaps as need draws.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Anita_Diamant
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Re: First Impressions



Carmenere_lady wrote:
I love the concept of the Red Tent! How great is it to be tucked away for a few days a month when you're at your most irritable, grumpy and bloated self. Mmmmm, I wonder how the Red Room would work in my house!!




Not so related to monthly cycles, but I do think that women's book groups function a bit like "THE RED TENT."

Feeding one another, taking care of each other, laughing and crying together, celebrating our commonalities? What do you think?
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Carmenere_lady
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Re: First Impressions



Anita_Diamant wrote:


Carmenere_lady wrote:
I love the concept of the Red Tent! How great is it to be tucked away for a few days a month when you're at your most irritable, grumpy and bloated self. Mmmmm, I wonder how the Red Room would work in my house!!




Not so related to monthly cycles, but I do think that women's book groups function a bit like "THE RED TENT."

Feeding one another, taking care of each other, laughing and crying together, celebrating our commonalities? What do you think?




That is a very nice thought Ms Diamant. I hope to find that book group some day. Groups I've been in seem to disband because of so many commitments. You know how it is, Mom's committed to this, that and the other thing with little time to spare for themselves.
Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
Voltaire
Distinguished Wordsmith
Carmenere_lady
Posts: 529
Registered: ‎11-05-2006
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Re: First Impressions



Peppermill wrote:

Carmenere_lady wrote:
I love the concept of the Red Tent! How great is it to be tucked away for a few days a month when you're at your most irritable, grumpy and bloated self. Mmmmm, I wonder how the Red Room would work in my house!!

A haven, red or otherwise, a room or a chair or a desk or ..., permanent or temporary, indoors or out, is a wonderful thing to create for oneself. Some women I know create a quiet spot with a picture or two, something for each of the senses, perhaps an appropriate book, as place for a few minutes each day -- perhaps at special or specific times, perhaps as need draws.




Peppermill, that sounds great! My refuge is currently locking myself in the bathroom for 5 or 10 minutes. Finding/making a little haven for myself is something I need to think about.
Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
Voltaire
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seafox5548
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎03-04-2007
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Re: First Impressions

This is my first time reading "The Red Tent". I love the female-ness of the story, the idea that men and women essentially moved in different circles and that the women were a family within themselves. The idea of the red tent as a refuge for women during the times of menses, birth, and recovery is appealing.

Even though modern life is seemingly easier for women (and women during biblical times had to put up with difficult situations at the hands of men/ society in general), I think we are lonlier now. This is especially true if you live away from your relatives due to employment or other circumstances. We make due with the "families" we build out of friendships, but the ties aren't as strong or as permanent. Of course, that's just me speaking about my own circumstances!

By the way, I thought that this book was refreshing because it talks about how the female cycle, birth, and polygamy were dealt with in Biblical society. I have read an awful lot of historical fiction that only dealt with these things superficially. What an interesting book!
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opticjunkie
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Registered: ‎10-29-2007
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Re: First Impressions


seafox5548 wrote:
Even though modern life is seemingly easier for women (and women during biblical times had to put up with difficult situations at the hands of men/ society in general), I think we are lonlier now. This is especially true if you live away from your relatives due to employment or other circumstances. We make due with the "families" we build out of friendships, but the ties aren't as strong or as permanent. Of course, that's just me speaking about my own circumstances!






I agree, seafox5548, in that we seem to be lonelier. I live close-by my family and extended family now and have never really had those kind of ties with the women I share name or blood with. It's something I envy in others I know who have it, or characters in books and films. I went through a stage a few years ago where I devoured stories about women/mothers/daughters/sisters. The Red Tent was one of them, of course. Whether the relationships were fractured or not, I couldn't get enough. Then my book club came along. I refer to the women in my bookclub as my "sista-friends". We've been meeting for 3 years now and have been through alot together. It temporarily scratches my itch. I read a Meg Ryan article in Redbook where she said something like, "...we aren't looking up to our mothers and grandmothers so much as we look to our sides to our friends/sisters." I find this true in my own life alot of the time. But then, I'm also just speaking about my own circumstances.

Are there women in our modern society who have relationships like the ones in this book? Is it a storybook fantasy I'm looking for?
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DSaff
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Re: First Impressions



opticjunkie wrote:

seafox5548 wrote:
Even though modern life is seemingly easier for women (and women during biblical times had to put up with difficult situations at the hands of men/ society in general), I think we are lonlier now. This is especially true if you live away from your relatives due to employment or other circumstances. We make due with the "families" we build out of friendships, but the ties aren't as strong or as permanent. Of course, that's just me speaking about my own circumstances!






I agree, seafox5548, in that we seem to be lonelier. I live close-by my family and extended family now and have never really had those kind of ties with the women I share name or blood with. It's something I envy in others I know who have it, or characters in books and films. I went through a stage a few years ago where I devoured stories about women/mothers/daughters/sisters. The Red Tent was one of them, of course. Whether the relationships were fractured or not, I couldn't get enough. Then my book club came along. I refer to the women in my bookclub as my "sista-friends". We've been meeting for 3 years now and have been through alot together. It temporarily scratches my itch. I read a Meg Ryan article in Redbook where she said something like, "...we aren't looking up to our mothers and grandmothers so much as we look to our sides to our friends/sisters." I find this true in my own life alot of the time. But then, I'm also just speaking about my own circumstances.

Are there women in our modern society who have relationships like the ones in this book? Is it a storybook fantasy I'm looking for?




While I do think our society is lonelier today due to time split into many facets, I also believe that we can make strong ties with our friends. There are relationships like those presented in the book (I feel fortunate to have some.). I used to tell my students that we make time for the things we want to do, and like everything, we have to make time for our friends and family. While that can be a very difficult juggling act, we can do it.
DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: First Impressions


Carmenere_lady wrote:

Peppermill wrote:

Carmenere_lady wrote:
I love the concept of the Red Tent! How great is it to be tucked away for a few days a month when you're at your most irritable, grumpy and bloated self. Mmmmm, I wonder how the Red Room would work in my house!!

A haven, red or otherwise, a room or a chair or a desk or ..., permanent or temporary, indoors or out, is a wonderful thing to create for oneself. Some women I know create a quiet spot with a picture or two, something for each of the senses, perhaps an appropriate book, as place for a few minutes each day -- perhaps at special or specific times, perhaps as need draws.


Peppermill, that sounds great! My refuge is currently locking myself in the bathroom for 5 or 10 minutes. Finding/making a little haven for myself is something I need to think about.
Carmenere Lady -- perhaps a bar of fine scented castile soap (good stocking stuffer to suggest to Santa) or a thick Egyptian cotton washcloth or a moleskin journal and good pen or a book of raunchy humor or ....

Or, as Shakti Gawain suggests, create an imaginary place to which you can escape, alone or with your spiritual guide/fellow traveler, for a few minutes of rest or stimulation or meditation. Make it as vivid, as realistic or fantastic, as your time and imagination allow. Walk by a lake, climb a mountain, lay in the sand, hold a child, paint a picture, ....

Spiritual directors/ministers I know create a quiet spot with a candle (to remind of light, of presence), a holy text, and an iconic picture. Some include a polished stone, a pleasurable letter opener, a flower or plant, a CD player or musical instrument or rain stick or crystal bell.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Author
Anita_Diamant
Posts: 34
Registered: ‎10-25-2007
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Re: First Impressions



DSaff wrote:


opticjunkie wrote:

seafox5548 wrote:
Even though modern life is seemingly easier for women (and women during biblical times had to put up with difficult situations at the hands of men/ society in general), I think we are lonlier now. This is especially true if you live away from your relatives due to employment or other circumstances. We make due with the "families" we build out of friendships, but the ties aren't as strong or as permanent. Of course, that's just me speaking about my own circumstances!






I agree, seafox5548, in that we seem to be lonelier. I live close-by my family and extended family now and have never really had those kind of ties with the women I share name or blood with. It's something I envy in others I know who have it, or characters in books and films. I went through a stage a few years ago where I devoured stories about women/mothers/daughters/sisters. The Red Tent was one of them, of course. Whether the relationships were fractured or not, I couldn't get enough. Then my book club came along. I refer to the women in my bookclub as my "sista-friends". We've been meeting for 3 years now and have been through alot together. It temporarily scratches my itch. I read a Meg Ryan article in Redbook where she said something like, "...we aren't looking up to our mothers and grandmothers so much as we look to our sides to our friends/sisters." I find this true in my own life alot of the time. But then, I'm also just speaking about my own circumstances.

Are there women in our modern society who have relationships like the ones in this book? Is it a storybook fantasy I'm looking for?




While I do think our society is lonelier today due to time split into many facets, I also believe that we can make strong ties with our friends. There are relationships like those presented in the book (I feel fortunate to have some.). I used to tell my students that we make time for the things we want to do, and like everything, we have to make time for our friends and family. While that can be a very difficult juggling act, we can do it.




I have met people with very strong family ties --even healthy family ties. But just as many people have had to leave their family circles in order to discover their own paths, their own voices. Indeed, even in the world I imagined in The Red Tent, Dinah really must leave her family in order to discovery her own destiny and ultimately her own happiness. That world would never have permitted her to ... but I don't want to spoil this for anyone who hasn't read the whole ...

Thanks for the conversation.

Anita
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JesseBC
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Re: First Impressions

I think you're both right.

Female relationships can be very intimate and supportive, but they can also be incredibly competitive and destructive -- a tension that I see in these early chapters of Red Tent.

Personally, greeting cards and other such social conventions feel, to me, like a means of blocking real intimacy rather than fostering it, but that's idiosyncratic and I'm sure others feel differently.

One constant that never seems to go away is the female competition for male attention and approval. It's hard to really be close to someone if it's so socially ingrained in you to compete with them that you don't even realize you're doing it.

The red tent has a warm and fuzzy sense of intimacy to it, but it's not a Female Utopia, even early in the story.





Anita_Diamant wrote:


Laurabairn wrote:
I'm struck by the camaraderie of the women...how cool is it they have this ancient support group...each other. Since life was so rugged and the men so capricious with their favor,they found joy with each other. Modern women do this with less success...




Actually, I think modern women do this quite well, given the stresses of our day. We discount the phone time, emails, greeting cards, but those are very real. Please remember that my renderings of these relationships are imagined ... and also based (not literally at all) on the loving friendships I share with my women friends.

AD


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JesseBC
Posts: 278
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: First Impressions

It's probably already come up somewhere in the discussion that, of course, there was no such thing as the red tent. It's fictional.

Though a number of ancient cultures segregated women during menstruation and childbirth.

Carol Christ, Merlin Stone, and other such writers on feminist spirituality have tried to reframe that segregation as positive, even sacred -- to the extent that the oppressive aspect of it gets lost in romanticizing it.

Again, it's one of those things that I don't think is either/or. The value of women's-only space continues to be debated among feminists today!

On the one hand, there's a sense of power and solidarity in the idea (backed up by research on such things as how girls fare better in girls-only educational settings).

On the other hand, segregation always carries the risk of separate-but-unequal, of making women the Other by setting them apart from the dominant activities of society. (The same cultures that segregated women during menstruation usually also viewed it as unclean.)

Everything has a flip side, I guess...two ways to look at it that must be held in balance to get the full picture.






Carmenere_lady wrote:
I love the concept of the Red Tent! How great is it to be tucked away for a few days a month when you're at your most irritable, grumpy and bloated self. Mmmmm, I wonder how the Red Room would work in my house!!


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JesseBC
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Re: First Impressions

Well...yes...but with the qualifier that I don't think I mean it in quite the same way you're suggesting here.

My experience with women's book groups have been largely negative. I already mentioned being told I wasn't welcome in one group when I told them I like Susan Sontag. And I've generally found myself either a controversial person in the group or found the conversations banal to the point of inducing coma.

A lot of what I saw going on were (sometimes very subtle) mechanisms of social control around rules that were unacknowledged and possibly unconscious. Topics of conversation were, of course, the most obvious, but there was a less obvious corralling around the meaning of being female itself. Weighty subjects were usually deferred to male opinion (i.e. "My husband always says..."), absolutely boorish and insensitive male behavior was routinely used for "humorous" social bonding, and, while childless women weren't shunned, it was acceptable only to talk about the positive aspects of motherhood -- never the negative ones and never the reasons that some women don't want children.

This is strictly my experience, of course, but, being a lifelong book lover, I've tested the waters in many, many book groups (online and off), most of which were (through accident or design) predominantly female. So, however idiosyncratic, I'm basing these observations on quite a lot of experience.

But this doesn't mean I disagree with you. There's the obvious interpretations of the red tent as a place of intimacy and nurturance or as a symbol of segregation and oppression. But there's also the possible interpretation of the red tent as a mechanism of social control among the women inside it.

I should shut up and get back to reading the book to see if I see this aspect play out in the story! :-)





Anita_Diamant wrote:


Carmenere_lady wrote:
I love the concept of the Red Tent! How great is it to be tucked away for a few days a month when you're at your most irritable, grumpy and bloated self. Mmmmm, I wonder how the Red Room would work in my house!!




Not so related to monthly cycles, but I do think that women's book groups function a bit like "THE RED TENT."

Feeding one another, taking care of each other, laughing and crying together, celebrating our commonalities? What do you think?


Inspired Scribe
IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: First Impressions

Jesse, what an interesting (and different) perspective you offered in your post. You're right that most of the participants of book clubs are women; and the red tent was viewed as a nurturting and positive symbol.

But I felt uncomfortable about it in some regards. As you pointed out, it could be viewed as a negative--separation of the Other, and within the tent itself, there were social rules, some overt and some very obvious. The red tent itself was exclusive in that no one, no male nor young girls, were allowed inside.

Another rule that came with the red tent, which I first interpreted as a negative was the fact that women who gave birth to a boy-child had to stay in the tent for a month, whereas if she gave birth to a girl-child, she had to stay in the tent twice as long.

I saw it as a negative, a pariah-like separation. As if giving birth to a girl-child meant the mother was twice as unclean, and needed more time to be cleansed.

Many other readers, including Anita herself, saw it as a positive... more time off from her daily labors.

What do you think?

IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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