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Florence of Arabia

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  1,779 ratings  ·  204 reviews
Florence Farfarletti has a bold plan for female emancipation in the Middle East and enlists the assistance of a motley team of ''activists'' to help her carry out her plan of reaching her audience with TV shows.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published September 13th 2005 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,502)
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Antisocialite
An open letter to Christopher Buckley:

Dear Mr. Buckley,
It is not necessary to make all of your female protagonists sexy. It is even less necessary to remind your readers of their sexiness every four pages.
Sincerely,
Someone who usually doesn't roll her eyes while reading your books.

PS- The unconvincing romantic subplot featuring your super sexy heroine was also lame.

PPS- There was some funny stuff in here too. More of the funny, please.
Elizabeth
Using the same snarky political farce plot and character structures that he has with his other novels (Thank You For Smoking, No Way to Treat a First Lady) Christopher Buckley tackles feminism and the Middle East. Where his other novels get off to a fast start and speed through until the end, this one takes a bit more to get moving. Once it does get moving, it's entertaining but not quite as cleaver as his other efforts.

Buckley should be praised for tackling such an unfunny set of subjects with
...more
Clif Hostetler
In the spirit of Lawrence of Arabia who freed the Arabs, so also Florence of Arabia bravely set out to free the women of the Middle East from gender injustice in an oppressive theocracy. Every sentence in this story is packed with humor, farce, irony, satire, irreverence, mockery, or exaggerated stereotype. An example of this writing style is contained in this example where the author describes a fictional country as the Middle East's preeminent "no-fun zone," unless"one's idea of fun includes b ...more
MacK
Choosing a book to take with you on vacation is a tricky proposition. If you take a classic you've been meaning to read and, hate it, your restful trip turns into a High School English class . If you take an exciting new work and both your eyes and your intellect could be floored by new sites sounds and ideas that change your view of the world, or you could be so confused by what you see and hear and read that you are left with a few souvenirs and a long night of head scratching "what happened?" ...more
Ian Wood
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's novels reviewed on the blog will generally have some images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a novel is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate a nove
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Joe
Jun 17, 2014 Joe rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
This is one of Buckley’s earlier books and tackles a touchy subject – the clash between the Arab and American cultures – in a somewhat humorous manner. There are more than a few laugh out loud vignettes but on the whole I didn’t find Florence of Arabia as entertaining as this author’s other books. There’s a disconnect in the writing between farce/satire and serious spy thriller which just doesn’t gel.

Our protagonist, Florence Farfaletti, is a Deputy to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eas
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George
A SPY-THRILLER LIKE NO OTHER.

"Americans are idealists until they have to move their thermostats two degrees; then they become very practical."—Part 6

The audio book of Christopher Buckley’s FLORENCE OF ARABIA is a hilariously fun listen from start to finish.

Recommendation: Read, listen, indulge in satirical Buckley wit.

"If there are no alternatives, then there are no problems."--Chapter 35

MP3 Audio Book edition on loan from: http://overdrive.colapublib.org/


David
Florence of Arabia is one of the funniest books I've read by Buckley. It's also one of the poorer written. The editing is worrisome, which seems to be a common problem with some of Buckley's books. The pacing is great for the first three quarters of the book, but after that falls down. The ending, though meant as a bit of a twist, is also lackluster. In the end, these problems don't drag the book down in quality. This isn't meant to be a political thriller set in the Middle East. It isn't even m ...more
Scott
Two and half stars. I appreciated the overall message of the book that the United States makes more of a mess during interventions as a way of foreign policy. However there were many aspects of this book I could not get past and that was Buckley's writing style. It is easy to tell that Buckley believes he is the greatest writer and is smarter than most. To me it seemed like he wrote a bland thriller story with some sprinkles of humor than went back through while editing adding ridiculous descrip ...more
Elizabeth Humphries
A Middle Eastern comedy about the emancipation of women is not a book I thought I'd ever experience. But somehow Buckley pulls it off. He includes some of his normal character types - for example, he once again includes a soulless public relations executive, though the character plays a minor role. The book really belongs to Florence Farfaletti, who fell in love with the Middle East as a child and can't help but try to make it more like the fantasy land she dreamed about and less like the realit ...more
Chip
A quick and light read, funny (at times, given the satire, sadly so), and a page-turner. Definitely peaked my interest in checking out some of Buckley's other books.
Shazia
This was a very funny satire about politics in the middle east. It revolves around an American woman who formerly worked at the State Department on a secretly funded mission to empower Arab women through a feminist television station. The story is mostly set in Matar, neighbor to the Muslim fundamentalist Wasabia - the parallels to Qatar and Saudi Arabia is hard to miss. It's quite fun, with lots of silly puns on Matar and mutter - that sort of thing. Not fabulous, like Christopher Moore's books ...more
Bee
Nov 29, 2014 Bee rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: recs
I kind of loathe the phrase "politically incorrect" but I really can't think of a better one to describe this book? It's pretty cutting satire (and it cuts both ways: Middle Eastern intolerance and cynical/incompetent Western meddling) but I remember it as being hilarious so it goes on the list.

Appalled by the punishment of her rebellious friend Nazrah, youngest and most petulant wife of Prince Bawad of Wasabia, Florence Farfarletti decides to draw a line in the sand. As Deputy to the deputy as
...more
Stop
Jan 05, 2009 Stop added it
Shelves: interviewees
Read the STOP SMILING interview with Florence of Arabia author Christopher Buckley:

HUMOR IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL\
By Charles Haskell

(This interview originally appeared in the STOP SMILING DC ISSUE)

There are many ways of defining Christopher Buckley. He is the son of William F. Buckley Jr., the late host of Firing Line and the so-called father of modern conservatism. He is a novelist, a political satirist concocting outlandish, though eerily real stories based on various elements of DC poli
...more
Mal Warwick
Feminism in Arabia? Read it here first!

Christopher Buckley proved to me that he’s one of the funniest writers alive today with Thank You For Smoking, They Eat Puppies, Don’t They?, and Little Green Men. Florence of Arabia is, like them, a satirical novel rooted in contemporary issues, but once Buckley had introduced his protagonist and set up the story that revolves around her, I found myself laughing less and less. The difference here is that the issue the novel addresses — the brutal subjugati
...more
Wendy
The irreverent Mr. Buckley, having already thoroughly mocked lobbyists supporting cigarettes, guns and alcohol in Thank You for Smoking, turns to a subject somewhat less tapped for slapstick and satire: the Middle East.

Assistant to the assistant to the deputy of Middle Eastern Affairs, Florence Farfaletti accidentally gets mixed up in the execution of the wife of a (fictional) Middle Eastern diplomat. She is then volunteered for subsequent covert operation to bring woman's rights to the most mis
...more
Kate
A shadowy arm of the US Government decides that the best way to ensure Middle East peace is to liberate the women of the kingdom of Matar, the most enlightened of the Middle East states, particularly in comparison with its neighbor, Wasabia. They enlist disgruntled State Department employee Florence Farfaletti and ask her to launch an Arab TV station catering directly to women. Allowed to pick her own crack team to launch the station, Florence enlists the help of a CIA assassin, a snappy PR man ...more
Tracey
"The remarkable thing is how well we mean, America. And yet it always turns out so -- badly."
So says "Uncle Sam" a mysterious and powerful figure who gives Florence Farfaletti, a minor State Dep't official, well-versed in Middle Eastern history & language, a chance to change history in the area by empowering women.
She has a PR wizard, a fellow State Dep't whiz (whose idol is Richard Burton), and an ex-Marine CIA hunk on her side, as well as the wife of the emir of Matar, a small country wh
...more
David
Sep 13, 2007 David rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Buckley
Buckley writes a Middle East spoof which winds up being a little more grim than some of his other books. It is brief, about 250 pages, and there is a lot of death and violence, possibly inevitable considering the topic.
Florence is about a woman who goes to the fictional country of Matar (pronounced “mutter”, “the Switzerland of the Middle East” ) to run a TV station to incite a rebellion among the women of neighboring Wasabia. This mission is covertly sponsored by the United States Government an
...more
Snotchocheez
Christopher Buckley is an amazingly talented political satirist and novelist. I believe his success stems from his vast knowledge of the machinations and the ins-and-outs of Washington DC. His story set ups (from government UFO coverups in "Little Green Men" to lobbyist corruption in "Thank You for Smoking"; his stories benefit greatly from his special insight in how things work in America's government. Even the most far-fetched tale has credibility: the reader thinks "Hey, this can really happe ...more
Joshua
It's been awhile since I've read anything by Christopher Buckley, but this novel is pretty much what you'd expect from him--fast-paced satire involving politics and various related subjects connected to the government. Buckley has made a literary career of mocking Washington types of every stripe and in this zippy novel, he adds some zingers toward the Middle East. The story follows a fetching female government employee sent to a fictitious Arabic country with the idea to rouse up the female pop ...more
Karen
The book was written in 2004, but is still delightfully fresh and sharp. I laughed uproariously at several parts of this book. I didn't think so many taboo topics could be made funny. The State Department, the CIA, and the kingdoms of the Middle East all get skewered. The humor slows down as the action picks up, but over all, the book is still a delightful romp.
Bonnie Irwin
this was my first foray into a Buckley novel, and, I must say, I rather enjoyed it. The satire is not subtle, but it is intelligent, and in Florence, the author has great fun pillorying US foreign policy, repressive Middle East regimes, and the French. It is a humorous, fast read, and good enough that I will try another.
Kirstin
It was good until it started to suck. Buckley's satire on Middle East policy is hilarious in the beginning and I was really starting to love the main character Florence and her attempt to promote women's rights in the Middle East. She goes to Matar (not to be confused with Qatar) and starts to cause trouble, especially in their neighboring country Wasabia (sounds like Saudi Arabia?). Then she refuses to leave even after her generous and anonymous benefactor leaves and other things happen - I kee ...more
William
The book was a good laugh almost all the way through. Not very complimentary about certain middle east countries. Has the author received any terrorist threats? Have any fatwas been issued on his behalf? He should watch his back! It really is a hilarious, fun novel and not too bad a story line although highly improbable.
Brian LaCarrubba
Another winner from Buckley. No matter how sensitive the subject, he has an ability to satirize it with great humor and without being offensive. While I wouldn't call this his best book, it is a highly entertaining take on the Middle East and the messy realities of intervention from the rest of the world, particularly the US.
Kathy
If you want a fun, frolicking read, you just might enjoy this political satire by Christopher Buckley. Poking fun at everyone in a non-offensive way just has a way of making you laugh, no matter what your political persuasion. There is no doubt he has a lot of political insight due to his previous role in various Presidential administrations. You catch yourself wondering just who he is depicting in this fictional satire. Surely, there are bits of truth tucked behind the fiction. :)

I especially l
...more
Mitch
Quite good -- not Buckley's best, but quite good. It's a comedy-thriller about Florence, a low-level US State Department bureaucrat who gets ticked off when an Arab woman she befriends comes to a bad end from her husband, and decides to launch a feminist revolution in the Middle East, by starting a women's TV channel that teaches women how to stand up to men.

Pacing is good, the good guys are sympathetic, the villains are villainous, and certainly Buckley's backing a great cause here. On the othe
...more
Al
Maybe it's unfair to compare anything with "Thank You For Smoking", Buckley's best, but one can't help it. Florence of Arabia starts off as a broad burlesque, complete with ridiculous character and place names. I almost quit after 30 or 40 pages, but somewhere in the middle the book abruptly changes into a (more or less) serious thriller, with characters dying, tortured and all manner of evil things happening. There's still plenty of sarcasm, but the book definitely acquires an edge. The bottom ...more
Mike
Florence is a woman who works for the U.S. State Department and comes up with a way to liberate women in the Middle East. She writes a memo to her superiors that creating a western style television station centering on Middle Eastern life would go a long way towards that goal. She's fired from her job at the state department but she is brought in by a unnamed mystery office of the US Gov’t to put her plan into action. The book is a very funny and pretty sharp commentary on the present Middle Eas ...more
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Christopher Buckley graduated cum laude from Yale University in 1976. He shipped out in the Merchant Marine and at age 24 became managing editor of Esquire magazine. At age 29, he became chief speechwriter to the Vice President of the United States, George H.W. Bush. Since 1989 he has been founder and editor-in-chief of Forbes Life magazine.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Good
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More about Christopher Buckley...
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