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Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia

(The Princess Trilogy #1)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  28,561 ratings  ·  2,462 reviews
PRINCESS describes the life of Sultana Al Sa'ud, a princess in the royal house of Saudi Arabia. Hidden behind her black veil, she is a prisoner, jailed by her father, her husband and her country.

Sultana tells of appalling oppressions, everyday occurrences that in any other culture would be seen as shocking human rights violations: thirteen-year-old girls forced to marry
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published (first published 1992)
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Van every book by Jean Sasson is available on Kindle and Nook and as other e-books formats. Good luck
Harshada Which part did you find unrealistic? I'm by no means someone who can validate this book, but I found it believable.
Edit: I just read your comment…more
Which part did you find unrealistic? I'm by no means someone who can validate this book, but I found it believable.
Edit: I just read your comment about having lived there. I can agree that maybe this is not the story of every woman in Saudi.(less)

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Jean Sasson
Apr 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I'm the author of this book. It's great to see the ongoing discussions about women in Saudi Arabia. I am delighted to reveal that under the current King Abduallah, that Saudi women are seeing an improvement in life. Although there is a long way to go, there is great hope that change is coming.

Also, I'd like to let readers know that I am currently working with Princess Sultana and one of my publishers on the 4th book on Princess Sultana. It should be published fall 2014. More news to follow!
Every once in a while I try to read something that is "deeper" than my usual smutty romance selections. This was one of those books. I listened to the Audible version and I could not pull myself away from the plight of Princess Sultana Al Sa'ud and the other women from this story.

Her story offered a poignant look at what life is like for women in Saudi Arabia. Even the wealthiest and most "privileged" women are not spared the cruelty of the misogynistic and oppressive culture. Women are treated
May 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-east
First of all, I do not believe that this work is a genuine autobiography of a Saudi princess. It just doesn't make sense to not reveal the name for 'protecting the identity of the author' after giving such a detailed life story and other intimate details about her family structure and other stuff. It is naive to assume that she would not be caught and put to death. I guess, maybe it could be the story of the maid of the Princess or something. Nevertheless I found it to be a highly compelling ...more
Fabian Davy
Nov 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a person who had spent some time in Saudi Arabia as an expatriate, I can say that many elements of this book had indeed lived up to match some of my experiences there. However, it should be noted with caution that this is a tale that spans many years: back from the time when Saudi Arabia is slowly opening itself up to embrace the world and modernization. The country that I came to, live in and left a few years back was a stark contrast to the hear-say and media portrayal of late. In fact, I ...more
Raven and Beez
Aug 26, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Read on the blog!!

Okay, I might be way too harsh with this review but that's only because I have never hated a book more than this one right here. So here goes my rant.

This book is said to be about Sultana (Not real name) who is a Saudi Princess and even though she belongs to the royal family she is bound by strict rules that define that women are only used for sexual relief and to bear the children for their husbands. And how they are enslaved by their fathers, husbands and brothers.

First of
Dan Schwent
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anastasia Kinderman
Nov 28, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: islamic-studies
Note: Comments by Jean Sasson and Friederike Monika Adsani or their fake accounts will automatically be deleted.

I am an American who has an interest in both Muslims and Arab countries. I got this book for Christmas. It is a very gripping story, a real page-turner. However, while reading through it I couldn't help noticing that the way the book was written just It read like a novel: the way the chapters were structured, the horrifying crimes committed by the males in the story (I'm
Dec 30, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After reading this book and comments from other readers, i really feel like i need to say something regarding Islam and Muslims because I am a Muslim.
To all people who read the book, don't be mislead by what you read. That is not the true picture of Islam. What is portrayed in the story is more of culture-based, not religion (Islam particularly). The way the men in the story treated their women is not what is taught in Islam. I know because I am a Muslim, living in a Muslim community. In Islam,
Oct 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in role of women in Islam
Shelves: islam, bookclub, biography
Princess, by Jean Sasson is the life story of a Saudi princess as told to an American journalist. It details the dysfunction, hypocrisy and imposed inertia of the royal family in general, and depravity of some members in particular. Most of all, it describes the gilded but treacherous cage in which royal women are forced to live, and the vulnerability of all Saudi & foreign worker women in the Kingdom.

On a personal note, if I thought the Saudis were a bunch of troglodyte degenerates
Diane in Australia
I'm not entirely sure how to review this book. Books that hide the true identity of the person being written about leave themselves open to claims of being a 'fake'. In fact, a plagiarism suit was filed against Jean Sasson, but was subsequently dismissed by the court.

Anyway, if the events in this book are true, the lives of many of the people in the book are horrendous. It makes me sad to think of these atrocities, and all the other atrocities worldwide. It seems humans will never learn to treat
3.5 stars
I was slightly put off by the way Princess Sultana tried to portray her life as somehow representative of what average Saudi women have to endure. The reality for most women there is so much worse. She does mention some examples of what happened to other women, but her tone is often self-pitying. "I was born free, yet today I am in chains." Give me a break! Her life of leisure was a dream compared to the lives of most Saudi women. Here's what filled her days:

"Since the servants fed the
Mansuriah Hassan
Oct 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is truly a fabulous book about the life and family of Princess Sultana. It has a touch of humour, despite the suffering. Very defiant and is certainly eye opening in a way we could never imagine. This book had the true Arab feel to it. It makes you want to learn more about the Saudi Arabia culture and their royal family.

This is the story of Princess Sultana, a Saudi princess, living a life of extreme wealth and yet experiencing poverty within the realm of freedom and equality. Princess
Oct 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all
I seriously dont know if the book is fiction or non-fiction. But few months after reading the book I saw an interview of some Arabian princess on a news channel. The incidents she shared sounded so same to the book. It talks about the kind of life women lead in Saudi Arabia. It discloses some shocking facts like a young girl stoned to death and a girl child was married to a man of 50's. The life of a princess in Arab is only about gold and dimonds but when it comes to self respect and love, she ...more
“I would be the master of my life, no matter what actions I would have to take or pain I would have to endure”
― Jean Sasson, Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia

Reading Sultana’s story was painful. But it really gave me a window into what women are treated like in some countries.

It is a tough book to read. And it really shows the differences in cultures. One reads this book with growing horror and dread. It is very frightening.

What does come through is Sultana's
Nov 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jean Sasson can tell a good story.I kept reading and also read the next two volumes in the series,Daughters of Arabia and Desert Royal. It is a bit debatable if these books (about the lives of a Saudi Arabian princess and her family) are entirely based on facts.
Is Princess Sultana for real,or is she a figment of the author's imagination ? Or is this book,a mixture of fact and fiction ? Whatever the truth,this book shocks,and it entertains.
That said,Saudi women do face plenty of issues and the
As a woman who has traveled to Saudi Arabia and having worn the veil; I have to admit, when I read the stories of these women Jean Sasson writes of, I now feel--looking back on wearing the veil--that I was somehow an imposter (I can't explain it any better than that) when comparing my life with the lives of these women. My wearing the veil was only compulsory when I went outside the confines of the base on which I was stationed; to these women it is a way of life. I couldn't help but feel that ...more
Sara M. Abudahab
It's SHOCKING and SICKENING in every possible way! I had a few "that-can't-be-true" moments and I really wished that it wasn't a true story, bc knowing that those acts against women are real and are happening now and are not just history is simply heartbreaking.

I really liked this book although I wished for a better happy ending.
Oct 17, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was terrible. Terribly written, edited terribly, and I have serious reservations over the authenticity of this book. While I do not question that women are treated very poorly in Saudi Arabia and several other Middle Eastern countries, I have a hard time believing that this 'autobiography by proxy' is true. When I picked up this book, the quick internet research I did brought up the pettiness between Jean Sasson and her would-be plagiarism victim and I find it hard to respect an author ...more
Jan 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Remember Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale? This is the real handmaid's tale. First published in 1992, it has been reissued in paperback. While some of the facts cited about women's lives in Saudi Arabia may have changed since then, most of the story is still, unfortunately, true. Not an easy book to read, but one that gives voice to a whole group of women you never hear from.
Aug 07, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: at-school
This book is pure fiction. I do not say that just because I am a Muslim from Saudi Arabia. I'm saying it because it is true. There are a number of problems with this book, including factual errors and situations that are unlikely/implausible.

My three main problems are:

1. For starters, how does someone just "traveling" to Saudi Arabia just happen to befriend a princess and extract the many details of her life in this book? She's a princess, not a woman on the street, who would still be much
Irina Garaeva
Apr 13, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A very questionable book. How can it be true and still be published if Saudi is such a strict and even ferocious country? How can this princess (and the writer) still be alive? There are facts that she mentioned - she can not hide from the Royal family :) And all these awful men actions that are described there: sure, there are a lot of restrictions of women rights in Saudi but living here I can't say that local women feel abused and miserable.Of course it depends on family, but lot of them can ...more
Hypocrisy rules the land of the religion that strongly condemned the act the act of hypocrisy centuries ago!

The true story of one of the princesses of the royal house of Al Saud in Saudi Arabia is told in a fashion that is both charming and riveting. The veil that guards the women of the Saudi Arabia also hides behind it years of cruelty and injustice.

It was a very strange experience to read this book. It appears highly prophetic to find out that the very people who call themselves the keepers
Years ago I read Bojidar Marinov's article "Civilisation and Self-Control", which agreed with, and expanded upon, some things I'd already read on Islamic views of sexuality. It's the kind of article that sums up some startling insights in a very concise way, and as a result I never felt I really understood it.

Until I read this book.

Princess, by Jean Sasson, purports to be the memoir of an anonymous woman from the Saudi royal family, passionate about changing the oppressed status of women in her
This is the true story of a Saudi Arabian Princess. I am sure that most people can guess some of the horrors discussed in this book. Unfortunately, this wasn't really anything new to me. I am fairly familiar with Arab culture. I imagine this book would really surprise some.
This story makes me think that perhaps is it Saudi Arabian men who give Muslims a bad name/reputation (at least here in the US). I am not so quick to condemn them all because of the acts of a few. However, it is difficult to
I finished this book and set it aside, wanting to immediately write an incensed rage review at a world where inequalities like this still exist and atrocities are still committed against women in the name of religion.

Granted, a lot of what occurs to our Sultana and her relatives and friends can be categorized more as cultural practices instead of religious mandates, but to me countries like Saudi Arabia and others have found a way to fuse those two separate categories into one grossly unfair
Jun 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Untill now, I still have a huge doubt wheter the story is real or just a smart fiction.Sasson claimed her writing to be an original story of a real Arab's Princess who underwent a very tough life in Arabs noble realm.This book tells that becoming a princess of Arabs was not as happy as it might seem.Sasson wrote down every adversity that Princess Sultana (and other Arabs women) had to go through in her stages of life with a full-of-detail way.The story took a setting against a backdrop of Arab ...more
Nov 26, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was OK. I can't say I learned too much - life sucks if you are a woman in Saudi Arabia...but I knew that already. Reading this reminds me that I am very, very lucky and happy to be an American. There is no mention of how the American writer befriended this Princess or the circumstances surrounding thier friendship. I think I would have liked that story. The end bugged me because it kind of just stopped, and then there was a note to go read the author's 2 more books if you wanted to know ...more
Feb 22, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who can handle reading a realistic portrayal of women in Saudi Arabia
Recommended to Annette by: Kalamazoo book club
Shelves: adult, true-stories
This book really affected me. I read this book about 13 years ago and still have not been able to erase the images from my mind. I found the treatment of women, as portrayed in this book, appalling. I was not prepared for the startling realism portrayed in this book. I gave it a favorable rating because it truly made me grateful that I am an American citizen. I did not give it a 4 or 5 because I found it to be emotionally disturbing. I would not recommend this book to anyone who prefers to read ...more
Oct 20, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This pictures portrays the life of a Saudi Princess. The book captures the reader's attention. The atrocious acts committed against women are difficult to read about at some points. I have to admit that some of the incidents absolutely incensed me, but it does illustrate some of the reasons why those in power have a great deal to lose by allowing progress to take hold.

I was bummed about the abrupt ending, but there are sequels I have heard. So maybe some of the hanging questions are explored in
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this last year without knowing it was actually a biography and freaking love the book. Realising that it was a true story is just heartbreaking. This book really opened my eyes to the struggles of women in Saudi Arabia in the past and really there's just so much to learn. I think everyone just has to read this book some time in their life.
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Jean Sasson was born in a small town in Alabama. An avid reader from an early age, she had read all the books in her school library by the time she was 15 years old. She also began her book collection at age 15. When given the chance to travel, Sasson accepted a position at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Riyadh, and lived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for 12 years. She ...more

Other books in the series

The Princess Trilogy (4 books)
  • Princess Sultana's Daughters
  • Princess Sultana's Circle (Princess Trilogy)
  • Princess, More Tears to Cry
“happiness is realized only in the face of unhappiness” 10 likes
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