Wednesday, October 29, 2008

About Anita Diamant

Well, here's our author as the picture of contentment, in what I imagine to be her home in Newton, Massachusetts, where she has lived since completing her graduate work. Born in 1951 in Newark, New Jersey, Anita Diamant spent her early childhood years in the same Jewish community as Philip Roth. Although her family was not particularly religious, they nonetheless followed Jewish ways, and her interest in Judaism grew as she matured. Diamant is now a noted author on Jewish lifestyle and traditions, publishing such books as How to Raise a Jewish Child and Saying Kaddish. The Red Tent is her first fiction book, followed up by Good Harbor and The Last Days of Dogtown.

In writing The Red Tent, Diamant states that she was inspired by Virginia Woolf's idea that the relationship between women in fiction historically had been drawn too simplistically. Diamant initially considered the complex relationship between Leah and Rachel as her focal point for a story, but changed her mind when she read the very short passage in the book of Genesis about Dinah. Anita states, "I found Dinah's silence to be a great open door - thanks to Woolf and many other feminist writers who pointed out that there was a door. So I gave her a voice." You can read more about the author on her Web site.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Red Tent

Anita Diamant’s first novel, The Red Tent, introduces readers to a spellbinding story of life for women in biblical times. Told through the eyes of Dinah, Jacob's daughter who is barely mentioned in Genesis, The Red Tent is not only Dinah’s story, but that of all women who were relegated to the “red tent” during their menses, childbirths or illnesses. Anita Diamant reminds us that the voiceless, powerless and unknown figures of the past must have had sweeping, wonderful and tragic stories just waiting to be revealed to us.

Saturday Samplers will discuss this book at our next meeting on Saturday, November 1st, at 3:30 p.m. Please note that this is a change in reading selection for November. Although we were scheduled to discuss Cat's Eye on this date, our group voted to move Cat's Eye to a date in the future. I hope no one is inconvenienced by this change.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Follow Up to our Meeting

Our group enjoyed sitting around a laptop looking at images of Caravaggio's work while we discussed this book. We all agreed that it was a fascinating selection.

For those of you who could not attend but who read the book, I shared with the group some interesting news about one of the versions of "The Taking of Christ." The Ukraine (Odessa) version was stolen from the Odessa Museum of Art in April of this year. The painting was cut from its frame and as of now has not been recovered by international authorities.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Lost Painting

Born in 1948, Jonathan Harr has worked as a journalist, a writer, and an instructor at Smith College. He is best known for his first book, A Civil Action, which was later made into a popular-release film. Published in 1995, A Civil Action garnered several book awards including the National Book Critics' Circle Award for nonfiction.

The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece, published in 2005, is his second book. Like A Civil Action, it is engrossing narrative nonfiction at its best. Harr's The Lost Painting traces the actual search for a missing Baroque painting and turns it into an exciting narrative on art detection and intrigue in the art world. The true-life characters and the storyline of this book will take you through the dusty archives of an Italian villa, across the sea to a Jesuit residence in Ireland, and into the art restoration laboratories of the British National Gallery as the hunt for a long-lost Caravaggio treasure becomes a thrilling story in itself.