Readers often approach Anita Diamant to exclaim, “I love your book!” She laughed as she described the experience.
“Actually, I’ve written 13 books, but I always know which one they’re talking about,” Diamant said during a telephone conversation from her Boston-area home. “It’s my best-seller — my best best-seller — and I’ve gotten used to that.”
Diamant is referring, of course, to her 1997 novel “The Red Tent,” a sexy riff on the Genesis story of Dinah, told as a first-person narrative, one of the first modern tomes to proffer a feminist spin on biblical events. Through the untraditional route of book groups and word-of-mouth recommendations, her debut novel exploded into an unexpected global phenomenon, translated into 28 languages and selling 3.3 million copies worldwide to date.
On Sunday, Dec. 7 and Monday, Dec. 8, Diamant’s fictionalized Dinah will reach an even wider audience with the premiere of a Lifetime miniseries based on the novel. “The Red Tent” stars Rebecca Ferguson as the daughter of the biblical Jacob; Minnie Driver as Leah, Dinah’s mother; Morena Baccarin (“Homeland”) as Rachel, Jacob’s beloved second wife; and Debra Winger as Jacob’s mother, Rebecca. To coincide with the series, Picador recently released a TV tie-in edition of Diamant’s book.
Like the novel, the miniseries takes the dark biblical tale in which Dinah is raped by a Canaanite prince and reimagines it as a torrid romance. After Dinah’s brothers take revenge for her supposed assault by murdering her lover and all his male tribe, the shattered young woman flees to Egypt, where she eventually becomes an esteemed midwife. Along the way are stories of the patriarchs and especially the matriarchs — as well as Jacob’s other wives Zilpah and Bilhah — who gather in a red tent during menstruation and childbirth to dance, sing and share secrets.