Some Girls: My Life in a Harem
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Some Girls: My Life in a Harem

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3.24 of 5 stars 3.24  ·  rating details  ·  4,283 ratings  ·  744 reviews
A jaw-dropping story of how a girl from the suburbs ends up in a prince's harem, and emerges from the secret Xanadu both richer and wiser

At eighteen, Jillian Lauren was an NYU theater school dropout with a tip about an upcoming audition. The "casting director" told her that a rich businessman in Singapore would pay pretty American girls $20,000 if they stayed for two wee...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 27th 2010 by Plume (first published 2010)
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Loederkoningin
Why, hello there Your Royal Highness Pengiran Digadong Sahibul Mal Pengiran Muda Jefri Bolkiah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien or, in short, Prince Jefri aka Robin (for the ladies).



Wow, this man and his lifestyle really intrigues me. I had heard the rumors, but thanks to this excellent memoir by Jillian Lauren I started to really roam the Internet.
Prince Jefri is the youngest brother of the sultan of Brunei. He is - or in fact, was - known for his extravag...more
Suzanne
Jun 10, 2014 Suzanne rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Suzanne by: The $1 shelf at the library
Shelves: memoir

This was a pleasant surprise. The subtitle gave me pause for a moment, but this memoir was not the tawdry, cheesy and/or poorly written mess I feared it might be. Why was I reading this at all? A $1 find at the library and a mood to indulge in a light, easy-breezy summertime read. It was that, but more, a coming-of-age story about the author’s search for identity at ages 18 and 19 in an unusual setting with a twist, and finally, her learning how to have compassion for her own mistakes and shortc...more
Cat
I saw this author on The View promoting this book. I immediately thought 2 things: 1) I am about to rewrite a story that is set in a modern-day harem and this would be good for research and 2) here is another person who got a publishing contract not because she can write, but because she happened to have a good story which in light of the recent Oprah book club memoir debacles may or may not be true. Amid the depressing thoughts that I would perhaps have to join a harem to get a NY publishing co...more
Teresa
I found this book sad and disturbing, bereft of any real point.
I picked it up out of curiosity about Brunei and an abiding interest in each
person's unique story, but finished it only to see if the poor girl eventually
found some sort of redemption. It seems she didn't.
Jillian and her brother Johnny grew up in the middle-class non-observant
Jewish family into which they were both adopted. Both experienced troubled
and wild teenage years. Johnny found fulfillment in God, becoming a devout
Hasid. Jill...more
Liz
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Thomas
I admit that I gave this memoir five stars instead of four because I know the author, though only distantly. I admired her writing early in her career and when I finally read this memoir I was pretty blown away. I hear a lot of hating in the comments, but that doesn't really make sense to me. It's really quite a beautifully-written book. Maybe memoir is just one of those things that either clicks with you or doesn't. But I've read a lot of books about sex work, and this one was unquestionably on...more
Alice
(2.5 stars) This is a very quick, interesting read. The author is looking back at her 18-19 year old self who dropped out of NYU, became a stripper, became an escort, and ended up as a member of the Prince of Brunei's harem (this is all on the book jacket, so it's not a spoiler). While I really enjoyed some of the passages (the scenes where she spends spends spends in Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, etc. are crazy), there are a lot of long boring flashbacks to her upper-middle class Jewish upbringi...more
Meredith
I heard the author give an interview on Howard Stern about this book, and was intrigued not so much by her harem/hooker past but by the fact she is now married to the bassist of Weezer, and they adopted a little boy from Ethiopia... just like me (the Ethiopia part, not the Weezer part).

And okay, the harem thing was sort of interesting. But though this book was readable, by the end I was totally annoyed by the writer. She has the pretense of being this fantastic author who honed her craft during...more
Marie desJardins
Just, kinda, eh. I mean, certainly some of the "behind-the-scenes" details of the Sultan of Brunei's younger brother's "party girls" were kind of interesting. But the book purports to be about the author *and* her experiences, and the part about the author -- who she is, why she took this gig in the first place, why she left, why she went back -- is just all over the place. There's no real story arc, and it's really hard to understand where she's coming from. It seemed like it was trying to be a...more
Allison
If you've been a real, live, contemporary harem girl, and you can write worth a damn, then clearly you have a story to tell. Jillian Lauren certainly can write worth a damn, which makes for an entertaining and rather sickening glance into a mental landscape that is frequently unflattering, vacillating wildly between a preciously narcissistic self-concept and good ol' low self-esteem. In Lauren's world, other women are a series of assets and liabilities to be assessed as "the competition". It's e...more
Caitlin Constantine
I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. I've often found there is a relationship between the quality of the writing in a memoir and the outlandishness of the story - The crazier the life story, the crappier the writing, and vice versa. So I figured that it doesn't really get much more bizarre than spending several months as part of a harem for the sons of the Sultan of Brunei, and that the writing would be horrible.

Well, it wasn't. I thought it was actually really good. I tore through it...more
Wendy
I didn't love this book. I thought it was a waste of time. The language was awful, and I didn't understand many parts. She skips around and brings in analogies that don't make a lot of sense. Lots of reviews talk about how she "found" herself and grew up. I didn't get that at all. Seemed to me like she didn't learn anything from her mistakes. It skips 14 years ahead and gives one page on her life now with her husband and baby. Somewhere in that 14 years she may have learned, but if so, she skipp...more
Ruds
In the mid-90's, the Philippines was gripped by a scandal on the alleged flesh trade of Filipina models, actresses and entertainers in Brunei that a senate investigation was even called. I picked out this book hoping to glean insider accounts of the mysterious, sensual lives of the girls( or, as the author lightly put it, the royal entertainers) inside a harem. And yeah, I was hoping Ruffa Guiterrez's name will be brought up.

In her time inside Prince Jefri's harem, the author befriended a Filip...more
Rachel Bussel
Some Girls is about, on the surface, Lauren's time spent in a harem in Brunei, but dig just marginally beneath that surface and you will see that this is a memoir that tackles major moments in both her life and one's that many women struggle with. Lauren leaves home at 16 to head out on her own at NYU, but soon finds the life of the theater and, later, escorting, more her style. She is young, brash and carefree, but Lauren never makes it as easy as "I was rebelling." She transposes her freewheel...more
♥ Marlene♥
Finished this yesterday. One word comes to mind about this book. That word is... Honest!

Wow That girl is so honest, In was sometimes shocked but loved it as well.

How she spoke about her father. That was the first thing that surprised me.

Quote: "In Great tradition of Jewish parents, his dearest belief is that when he is dead, I'll spend the rest of my life regretting my callous behaviour towards him"

Wow. I do not find that a very positive thing about Jewish parents if that is true.

She also wrote...more
Shawna
May 01, 2011 Shawna added it
Shelves: memoir
It's hard to feel sorry for a woman who prostituted herself to the richest man in the world, and was allowed to fly to Singapore and spend more than "the down payment on her house" on designer clothes. Sure, she was bored, and manipulated, and pulled into the catty machinations of the harem, but in the end she walked away with ten of thousands of dollars in cash, and jewelry. It was a fascinating story, and the author's background/upbringing explains a good deal of dissociative relationship with...more
Janne Varvára
I am right now having a post-literary depression. Those come on after I read a book that's so good that everything I try to read afterwards is mush.

I first discovered writer Jillian Lauren when I read an article she did for The New York Times a few years back. I remember it as honest and moving, and I immediately put her memoir Some Girls on my wish list.

It was several years before I got around to reading it, and when I did, it did not disappoint.

Here, Jillian Lauren writes about her experiences...more
Laura
This book tells of the experiences in a girl from the tri-state area that was in the Brunei harem. While not entirely typical (she's adopted, dropped out of school at age 16), Lauren is easy to relate to and generally likeable. She doesn't dwell on how she got her start in the sex industry, but it's not hard to read between the lines (father issues, needing to be loved etc). Her account is pretty upfront, and she dwells more on the sorority-like aspect of her living situation rather than the fac...more
Pam
How does a fairly wealthy adopted Jewish girl end up in a modern day harem at 18? Lauren does a good job of explaining her journey. She is a very angry teenager. She has been physically and mentally abused by her father for yrs. When he gets angry at her he beats her and then later apologizes. After one of her father's tantrums she tells her mother she is moving out. Her mother agrees with her. HUH????? She is only 16! Her mother suggests she gets her GED and skip her senior yr of High school. I...more
K2 -----
This is a quick read that is not earth shattering but it interesting in a bit of a National Enquirer way. Ignore the dime store cover.

I suppose it depends what expectation you bring to the book how you feel about it. If you want to know the inner workings of a harem or juicy sex stories I think you may well be disappointed. If instead you read it for the portrait of the roots of troubled young people it's quite a road map.

Take an adopted daughter, throw her into an upper middle class Jewish New...more
Beth
A friend loaned me this autobiographical book and suggested that I read it; otherwise I would have never picked it up. Nowhere near as mindnumbing. An adopted, rebellious Jew girl from suburban New Jersey runs off to NYC with big dreams of becoming an actress. Drops out of college, becomes a stripper, and then an escort to get easy money. She gets picked at the age of 19 to travel across the world to be a part of Prince Jefri's harem in Brunei. She ends up staying there for 18 months. Although I...more
Holly Kench
"Some Girls" is the true story of an 18 year old struggling actress, who takes a position in the harem of the Prince of Brunei. It chronicles her upbringing, the choices and paths that led to her decision to become an international prostitute, her time in the harem and her struggle to deal with life on her return to the US. The plot and the realities of her life that drive the story come as no surprise. What is surprising, however, is the insight with which she relates her story. It is all the m...more
Gerund
With a subtitle like My Life In A Harem, you would be forgiven for expecting this book to be thick with titillating details and palace politics. And you would not be disappointed.

But this memoir by an American, who – willingly – joined the harem of Brunei’s Prince Jefri Bolkiah, the youngest brother of the Sultan of Brunei, is also a frank self-portrait of a young woman who, in her own words, always picked the path “that seemed a tiny bit wilder. Because that was who I wanted to be”.

Given up for...more
Gem
This is an absolutely fascinating memoir by a smart, funny, witty woman. At so many points in this book, I found myself thinking, “How have I never heard of this woman before? How do more people not know about this?” I always knew that harems of this sort still exist in this world. Of course they do – and it’s portrayed all the time in the movies. So why wouldn’t it be real? The only difference is, when you see a powerful man with a bevy of beauties on his arm in a movie, you don’t really get to...more
Louise
The first thing that comes to mind is "Is this true?" A harem in Brunei circa 1990 seems to work, but the email capability on the second trip might not. The second trip has no date, but presumably took place before 1993 when only institutions were part of the internet proto-type, the NREN. All else rings true, so if a super geek did set up a form of email, I expect we can Jillian Lauren at her word. She covers a lot of ground in this once over lightly story.

I read the book quickly, wedging it in...more
Brian
This book was given to me by a friend, and I am glad she gave it to me. It is about a woman who travels to the country of Brunei, which I had never heard of, to become part of the prince's harem. She has to sleep with him whenever he wants, among many other girls. I thought this book was quite disturbing at times, but it really held my interest. MY least favorite part was when she came back to NY, I thought hearing about her adventures in Brunei trumped the ones she had in New York. I'm not sure...more
Wifda
For me some parts of this book is hard to digest and hardly easy to understand. Especially the part when she chose her life to be an escort and going to Brunei to be a sex slave in a harem in searching of her soul and identity, particularly due to being an adoptive child for her life. Despite how strong she was in writing her story, she seems very unstable and emotional within the age.

On other part, I was disappointed on the story of the harem part which is not too strong. I mean cmon I expect...more
Lisa
Jillian Lauren was interviewed on Sirius satellite radio last month so when sis offered me the book, I already knew the background story which might have lowered my rating because it read like a re-run. Interesting story but soul-sucking.
Jay
Good girl goes bad and joins a harem. Sounds like something straight from a bad romance novel. Or a mediocre memoir, as in this case.

I would have liked it if Lauren had established more about her reasons behind pushing away from her parents. While I know it happens a lot, and sometimes there aren't any good reasons, I would have liked to have seen more of a change from Daddy's Little Girl to Prince Jefri's Harem Girl. Lauren brushed over the abuse, that while awful, didn't really react with me....more
jennifer
Lauren was a stripper in the New York clubs at sixteen and a call girl to the wealthy at eighteen, all the while trying to be an actress. It's this need for what she calls "adventure" that got her to a palace in Brunei owned by Prince Jefri, brother of the Sultan of Brunei, at the time the wealthiest man in the world. Lauren spent several months living in guesthouses on palace grounds, flying to places like Kuala Lumpur for all-expense-paid shopping sprees and attending the prince's nightly part...more
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Review 1 30 Aug 27, 2011 05:56AM  
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Author and performer Jillian Lauren grew up in suburban New Jersey and fled across the water to New York City. She attended New York University for three minutes before dropping out to work in downtown theater, where she performed with Richard Foreman’s Ontological Hysteric Theater, among others.
Her New York Times bestselling memoir, SOME GIRLS: My Life in a Harem, was published by Plume in April...more
More about Jillian Lauren...
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“She was like a real strawberry in a roomful of strawberry Pop-Tarts.” 9 likes
“Before that experience, I had often felt the kind of alone that comes from the suspicion that you are not only genetically different from those around you, but different in your very soul...[then] I was a different kind of alone. I was alone and ashamed of myself...it was no one's fault but mine.” 5 likes
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