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Driving the Saudis: Tales of Ten Thousand and One Miles Behind the Wheel with the World's Richest Princesses (Plus Their Nannies, Servants, and the Royal Hairdresser)
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Driving the Saudis: Tales of Ten Thousand and One Miles Behind the Wheel with the World's Richest Princesses (Plus Their Nannies, Servants, and the Royal Hairdresser)

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3.06 of 5 stars 3.06  ·  rating details  ·  814 ratings  ·  145 reviews
A Simon & Schuster eBook
ebook, 224 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by Free Press
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(showing 1-30 of 2,108)
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Ashley
Interesting premise, but the resulting narrative is uneven, shallow, and unsatisfying. I did not care for the author's voice; I found her self-righteous. Yes, we get it: the Saudi royal family is excessive to the extreme and archaic (in American views) in their customs regarding division of the sexes, marriage, female rights, and household hierarchy. No one made you take this job, one you find so demeaning and beneath you, as you remind us often - almost as much as you remind us of your ivy leag...more
Richard
My expectations for this book were not high. I expected something fluffy and escapist, with maybe a little inkling into what makes these people tick. Also, I thought this book would be set in the Middle East, not California. The book started slow, too, as the author synopsized her not-particularly-notable life.

But after a few short table-setting chapters, Ms. Larson begins to deliver the goods. About halfway through I realized, this book is actually pretty insightful. The Saudis and their entour...more
Carrie Magnan
If you want a book to confirm what you already think about members of the Saudi Royal family - they're selfish, egotistical, spoiled, mean-spirited and wealthy beyond belief - then read this one. They are every horrible thing you think, and then some. Truly awful people.

The interesting people in this book are the ones who have to bend over backwards to service these brats while they are spending oil money like there's no tomorrow at boutiques, hair salons and plastic surgery centers in and arou...more
Book Him Danno
On the cover of this book is the note “a Chauffeur’s Tale of the World’s Richest Princesses” and that explains the whole book, it was a total waste of time.

I started the book thinking it might just be interesting seeing how the other half lives. It was not interesting for a lot of reasons but one is the writing was so poor, the language was not necessary to get the point across, but used for shock value, and the story wandered all over the map. If you have lots of time on your hands with nothing...more
Kaitlin
This book is not only a delightful romp around the streets of Beverly Hills with the Saudi royal family, but an in-depth examination of consumption, culture, and the complexity of US-Saudi Arabia relations.

Larson writes with stark honesty and humility about her experience as a chauffeur for the Saudis. The lessons she learns, and those she imparts to her readers, are lasting and complex, including:

"The first pillar of Islam is the professor of faith, or shahada, and in keeping with the Quran an...more
Melody
I try to live by the maxim “It isn’t so much that we are disappointed by people but that we are disappointed by our expectations of people.” Thus if I set realistic expectations, I will be let down less often. Easier said than done of course, as with most pithy mottos, but none the less a truism. “Why,” you ask “am I spouting Zen babble in a book review?” Is is indeed, dear reader, relevant. The reads that most disappoint me are the “you gotta read this” or books that I have high expectations fo...more
Kestrawn
I have mixed feelings about this book--on the one hand, I did learn quite a bit about the Saudis and their culture. That being said, I had very little prior knowledge of the Saudi royal family prior to reading the book, so someone that is more familiar with the matter may find this book shallow and unsatisfying.

Despite learning interesting things about the Saudi royals, I still found this book somewhat boring. It has taken me quite a while to read the book, despite its brevity (it's only about 2...more
Renee
I love reading books about the lives I will never live;good or bad, indulgent or impoverished, it doesn't matter. Reading "Driving the Saudis", reminded me of Alice looking through the key hole; I was completely amazed and enthralled about a day in the life of a Saudi Royal.

After more than a decade of working in Hollywood, actress Jayne Amelia Larson found herself out work, and falling behind on her bills. Without telling her friends or family, she took a job as a limousine driver, never thinkin...more
Manal_a_140518
This was a very interesting book to read, and I learned so much from it.
The Author Jayne talks about her experience when she was hired as a driver for a royal Saudi family, she shared details about their lifestyle, and actions.
There were a lot of surprising details that I had no idea about.
This book was very interesting, that it made me realise that people can do anything for money. I also realised that there are different groups of people, and so if you have something to feed yourself, somethin...more
Madison Sterling-Zalk


Repetitive, incoherent structure is right on the money. Interesting story, great characters, in need of some serious, professional editing.
Tom Schulte
Ably narrated by the author, the best parts of this work are her unexpected opportunities to act as accidental anthropologist. She sees the most shallow and materialistic elitism of starstruck Saudi teen princesses, the sincere religiosity of the worshipful in the group, and the kind-hearted indentured North African servants attached to the anti-Semitic and chauvinistic group.

Part of her observation that was insightful to me is her consideration of so much effort for beauty (plastic surgery, exp...more
Erica Hunt
Jayne Larson was an out of work actress and took a job as a chauffeur to make ends meet. She had an amazing opportunity to make some great money but being one of the many drivers for members of the Saudi royal family. Larson wrote about her experience in the book "Driving the Saudis". I felt that this was an unique look into the lives of the Saudi royal family and their staff. It was an amazing look into a group of people who we normally do not get a look into their lives. There were two specifi...more
Louise
Jayne Amelia Larson had the experience of driving the women of one of the Saudi royal families around LA for 7 weeks. There are precision logistics as fleets of limos carrying luggage and the entourage arrives to set up camp in the best hotels and estates of the city. The "customer" is demanding and an established pecking order means that almost any member of the entourage can point a finger and have the temporary, unwitting, non-Arabic speaking drivers fired. This book is light and fun, but pre...more
Rebecca
I thought this was pretty good. In general I like memoirs about jobs, and she writes about not realizing that most chauffeurs are men. She ends up driving the royal family around Hollywood, and the princesses get lots of plastic surgery, and throw money at her demanding that she get them iphones, and bras and other random things. She also drives the servant girls around, and gets to know them pretty well. It's interesting, there's the seventeen year old who really wants to study at UCLA, but is...more
Jacki Leach
Actress/producer Jayne Amelia Larson takes a temp job as a driver for female members of the Saudi royal family when they visit L.A. Hoping against hope to earn a big tip, she does her utmost to serve the women; sometimes they demand things in the middle of the night, and spend thousands of dollars a day on shopping sprees. She also has to put up with snobby, spoiled younger members of the family. But along with such freedom in the U.S. comes the sad realization that they will have to return home...more
Kathy  D.
The author spent way too much talking about herself and complaining about how embarrassing it was for someone with her education (Cornell and Harvard) to be driving people around. At one point she says that there is nothing humiliating in doing an honest day's work, then a page later she talks about how humiliating it is to eat in a fancy restaurant with the other servants. I was interested in reading stories about the people she drove around, not about her...er..."landscaping" practices and the...more
Alger
The author apparently felt faint if a paragraph went by where she didn't refer to herself. The only way she could regain her balance was to follow that barren paragraph with two or three about herself and her memories and her impressions, in detail. This results in the book being incredibly digressive, and not really about the Saudis at all. Since her project in the book is to describe the vanity and egoism of the Royal Family, her obsession with herself can be amusing.
It's readable, and in smal...more
Rob
I don't usually read memoir but I was intrigued by the subject matter and it's timeliness and this ended up being a great read and a real page turner. Jayne Amelia Larson is funny, smart and brings us into a world that is not only fascinating but also seldom depicted, witnessed or observed. The Saudi culture, as we know, is extremely private, and this expose is haunting and illuminating. Highly recommend. And guys don't be put off by the idea of a female chauffeur taking a bunch of rich women sh...more
Mary Lou
very interesting account of one woman's encounter with wealth & entitlement on steroids. The Saudi princesses come across as shallow people whose consumption is beyond conspicuous. They are dismissive of other people. This chauffeur received a tip that was 80% lower than her male counterparts, because women are not valued as people, only possessions, in that culture. The most human & likeable characters, aside from the author, in the account are the female servants of the royals.
Nancy
An entertaining story of an actress's gig driving a mob of Saudi royal women and their servants veers into deeper territory as the author considers with compassion the severely restricted societal rules these women and girls must navigate. Wildly extravagant spending on fashion, shopping, room service, etc. is contrasted with the limits placed on their movements and interactions with the world. I would love to see her dramatic version of this experience. Recommmend.
Tracy
I kind of liked this book, but I found the non-linear storytelling somewhat distracting. Additionally, at page apx 100, it was getting a little repetitive. While I am not disinterested in the remainder of the memoir, I have more interesting things sitting in a pile of book son my night stand so I have little faith I will pick it back up. Yet.....I might pass it on to Elisabeth - she'll probably be interested in at least the first 75 pages :)
Agata Kozlowska
Waste of such a good material! The author had a chance to experience a different culture observing its most prominent members in everyday situations and in a close-up. I hoped the book will give me an insight into the real life of Saudi family members. And it delivers some of it. Some = quite little. The author is more concerned about sharing with us her life story which is totally irrelevant from the perspective of the book's subject and narrative than delivering the observations. Her idea of p...more
Catherine
Interesting reportage on the inner circle of Saudi women’s lives, not just the royals, but also the under-appreciated and staunchly devoted servants.

Larson shares some personal aspects of her life in the writing as well. It’s a light read that focused on a very short time (seven weeks) in the author’s life while chauffeuring the Saudi women around the L.A. area and her all-consuming job responsibilities.
Easyreader
I thought this book was both entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time. Getting a glimpse into the lives of the very rich Saudi royals is intriguing. But I also found myself asking "what would I do," if I were in the author's shoes. What would I say? And that's really the value of the book—to ride along with Larson and have to reflect on our own culpabilities and compromises.
Laurie Lathem
This is more than a page-turning, fun read. It explores deep and tricky issues of our time in a way that is honest, warm and intelligent. A story of survival and culture clash, of self-identity and friendship, the book had me laughing out loud even while it was moving me emotionally. Bravo to Jayne Amelia Larson for writing such an original and smart story!
sendann
If you've already read al of jean sassoons books about the lives of Saudi princesses, twice, then this might be fun. It's an ok read, but the main issue I had that kept me from really getting into it was was this kind of dualinng plot line thing. I maybe I was just resisting the major narrative thread in favor of what I had expected it to be. The book is about the authors career struggles, money worries, and experience driving a royal family. The constant reference to her career issues and attem...more
Kristan
Entertaining story about the author's adventures as a driver for the Saudi royals. However I think the author's story could have been condensed into a long article in People magazine rather than a novel. I'd recommend it if you're in the mood for a light read on vacation; otherwise skip it.
Sharon Chance
Larson’s memoir is filled with anecdotes of her experience with the royal Saudi family, many hilarious, some poignant, all fascinating insights to one of the wealthiest families in the world and how their lives are such drastically different than the average persons.
Michele Krampf
While it was fun to read about "how the other half lives", I found the author's comments to be tiresome at times and somewhat self-serving. It just wasn't as interesting read as I thought it would be.
David Ward
Driving the Saudis: A Chauffeur's Tale of the World's Richest Princesses (plus their servants, nannies, and one royal hairdresser) by Jayne Amelia Larson (Free Press 2012)(953.8054) - a Harvard graduate with a serious case of philotimia (nice word, Jayne) temporarily slaves for a portion of the Saudi royal family. The author willingly put up with demeaning treatment and a horrible working schedule in exchange for the anticipated payoff: a nice fat tip for services rendered at the conclusion of t...more
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