Believe it or not, the first book by Anita Diamant I read was not The Red Tent. Unlike just about everyone, my introduction into her writing was her 2003 essay collection Pitching My Tent: On Marriage, Motherhood, Friendship and Other Leaps of Faith. After enjoying Pitching My Tent, one would think that the second book of Diamant’s I would read would be The Red Tent. Recently, I turned my back on conventional wisdom and read not The Red Tent, but her 2009 work of historical fiction Day After Night. It was one of those books I found at the library and almost didn’t grab. But when I took into account both Diamant’s reputation as an excellent writer and the novel’s setting in an internment camp in post-war British Palestine I found it hard to resist Day After Night. So I didn’t. Feeling optimistic but with modest expectations I checked it out and headed home.
It took my a while to get through Day After Night because I was reading several other books at the same time. Once I did however finally concentrate on reading only Day After Night I soon finished it. While it didn’t rock my world and make me wanna add it to my personal “Best Of” list for 2015, generally I liked it.
It looks like Day After Night is inspired by a true story. In the fall of 1945 there was mass break-out by over 200 Jewish refugees who had been detained at the Atlit internment camp in British Palestine. In telling this story, Diamant focuses on four of the camp’s internees. All four are women and Holocaust survivors. Understandably, considering the horrors they endured, they survived but did not do so unscathed. Not only must also repair their shattered lives, they also need to live as free women. Leaving the camp would be first step in this needed process. But who will help them escape? And how?
The Book Date’s Full House Reading Challenge has a category entitled “Outstanding Hero or Heroine.” I’m going to count Day After Night under this category because it has not one but a number of heroines who acted heroically. And considering all of them survived the Holocaust, this to me anyway makes them all the more heroic.