By the time you finish the last page of Anita Diamant's lively collection of personal essays, Pitching My Tent: On Marriage, Motherhood, Friendship, and Other Leaps of Faith, you may feel as if you've found a new friend, one who is funny, warm and wise and a bit feisty. Diamant, author of the best-selling novels The Red Tent and Good Harbor, began her career as a columnist writing for numerous daily newspapers and consumer magazines. "I wrote essays about friendship and fashion, about marriage and electoral politics . . . birth, death, God, country, and my dog," she says in her introduction, adding wryly, "The challenge was to pay closer-than-average attention and then shape my experiences and reactions into entertaining prose that rose above the level of my own navel." Culled from two decades' worth of previously published material, her new book contains revised and updated versions of her wonderful nonfiction pieces, all filled with humorous and sensitive observations on the meaningful earmarks of adult life. Diamant offers trenchant insights, tackling the topics of marriage and parenthood, friendship, community and, "most especially," faith. Diamant has written six nonfiction books on Judaism, and her love for the religion shines brightly throughout this volume. Two sections, "Time Zones" and "Home for the Soul," are devoted to the joys and pitfalls of living within the Jewish tradition, with rhythms and values that can run contrary to American secular life. It is hard, she acknowledges, to find balance in a world in which Yom Kippur and the scheduling of the World Series (tragically!) collide. Regardless of gender or religion, readers will find universal appeal in this conversational, heartwarming book: Who hasn't relished the childish charms of a summer day at the seaside, complete with a drippy chocolate ice cream cone? Who hasn't nagged their spouse about something? Diamant declares, "My tent and I hope yours, too is filled with blessings. Come see." It's an invitation you won't want to refuse. Alison Hood writes from San Rafael, California.

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