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At the Drop of a Veil

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  122 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
At the Drop of a Veil / Marianne Alireza. It was 1945, and Marianne Alireza, who had spent almost her entire life in California, had moved to Saudi Arabia with her new husband, Ali. Suddenly she was a member of an Arabian family, veiled and cloaked like a biblical figure, thousands of miles and two centuries from home.For twelve years Marianne Alireza lived in a harem, a f ...more
Paperback, 275 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by Blind Owl Press (first published 1971)
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Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating detailed account of a California woman who marries a Saudi and moves to Saudi Arabia. She is very fortunate to marry into a loving family. My only complaint is that the book is too short! There is a surprising twist in the last chapter and it ends abruptly, it seems. I had to do a little online research to find out what happened after the end of the book. The author's humor and descriptive writing style made this book a joy to read.
Catherine Adde
Nov 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
At the Drop of a Veil by Marianne Alireza
The True Story of A California Girl's Years In An Arabian Hareem

Marianne Alireza was my guest speaker at a ‘Women in Travel’ organization in the 1980’s. She was fascinating, and we were on the edge of our seats by the end of her talk.
Years later I was fortunate enough to meet her again and plan her travel. She signed her memoir for me and I am delighted to see that a copy is in our library.

While attending college in the 1940’s the American Marianne meets
Feb 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Surprisingly, it’s a good book despite the fact that it was written over 40 years ago. It tells the story of Marianne Alireza, an American university student who married a Saudi citizen in 1943. In 1945, Marianne moved to Jeddah with her husband and infant daughter, and from there she witnessed the obsolete Arabian lifestyle firsthand for 12 years. She describes her experiences as part of the Alireza harem, consisting of her mother-in-law, 2 sisters-in-law and their various children, of whom Mar ...more
Rhonda Keith
Mar 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Spoiler alert (but what do you expect from a story like this)?

Marianne Alireza wrote in detail about her marriage in the 1940s to a Saudi national, a high-ranking man in the government whom she met at college. She adapted as best as she could to living in the family harem, the women's quarters, where women were wholly confined. It's always a puzzlement why a Western woman would subject herself to this sort of imprisonment. She did't speak Arabic and learned it word by word. She recalled with pl
Mar 26, 2009 rated it liked it
This was an interesting book because the writer married into a prominent Saudi family in the 40s and moved to Saudi Arabia and assimilated and acclimated to a Muslim lifestyle (although she never converted). The book was published in 1970, so it would have really been eye-opening at the time.

I did think there were huge "gaps," that appeared to be for discretion. For instance, the husband was gone so much and provided little "buffer" as she learned to adapt. We learn very little about their rela
Holly S.
Apr 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Originally published in 1973, this is the story of an American college student who marries a Saudi man in 1943 and lives in Saudi Arabia for twelve years. With wit and insight, Marianne describes her adventures and life within the Alireza household, giving a captivating glimpse into affluent Saudi society in the 1940s and 50s. Despite the dramatic end to her marriage, Marianne tells her story with warmth and humor.
Jul 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Imagine an old school "Not without my daughter"... an American woman Marianne marries a Saudi Arabian, integrates herself into their country, family and culture, and is divorced by the pronouncement of "I divorce you".
Published in the 70's about her life in Saudi in the 40's, the language is slightly dated, but as the bulk of the story is about her adjustment and transition, rather than fighting for her children, it makes a fascinating read.
Savage Mind
Aug 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Good description of what life in Saudi Arabia was like for a woman, seen through Western eyes. Many details about their every day activities and relationships between women. However the writer, probably out of discretion, refrain from describing how he relationship with her husband was (emotionally) and how it altered after moving to Saudi Arabia.
Aug 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Reading this book felt as if I were sitting at the feet of a sweet, funny and wise older lady listening to her tell the story of her fascinating life. I admire her apparent total lack of bitterness especially considering the many trials she underwent in her life. This is one woman I would love to meet one day!
Kay Campbell
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is probably the best memoir of an American woman who has lived in Saudi Arabia. Marianne Alireza married a Saudi, moved to the Kingdom in the 1940s, home-schooled her kids, became good friends with the Queen, Queen Effat Al Thunayan, and had many interesting experiences, good and bad. I can't recommend this book enough - as it captures what life was like for her family, and the Kingdom at such an interesting time. Five Stars Plus!
An engaging and well-written look at the life of an American woman who married a Saudi, moving into that country and culture in the mid-20th century.
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The basics of the other reviews are accurate--this is the autobiography of an American woman who married a Saudi Arabian, and moved there to Jeddah in 1945. Then as well as there is a different world, even, I suspect, for many Saudis: the intervening seven decades have wrought a great change in us all.

It's a short book, and ultimately a quick read that skims over the surface of a great deal of subtext...but an experience that can't really be replicated these days. Coming back to it after a coupl
Kimberly Ann
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
At the Drop of a Veil, Marianne Alireza

This has been on my TBR for at least 10 years... probably more...

The book spans the years of 1943-1957/58 and was written in 1971

Marianne meets Alireza in college and they marry..... Not knowing that he would be called into service of Prince Faisal & the King of Saudi Arabia. Thus begins the story of Marianne as she becomes a member of the Harem that is the center of the Alireza family.

Marianne is welcomed into the family & everyone works to help he
Gregg Jones
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: civics, history
How many Western women get married to a man from the Mideast? How many do this without knowing about Islam or the Quran? Marianne Alireza wrote in detail about her marriage in the 1940s to a Saudi national, a high-ranking man in the government whom she met at college. She adapted as best as she could to living in the family harem, the women's quarters, where women were wholly confined. It's always a puzzlement why a Western woman would subject herself to this sort of imprisonment.

Her time in KS
3.5 stars

In the mid-1940s, an American woman, Marianne, married a rich Arabic man. When she moved to Saudi Arabia with him, she was thrown into a culture so far removed from what she was used to. Not only that, her husband was away often and she had to find her way with the help of his family as she also struggled to learn the language, customs, etc.

I thought this was quite interesting. Despite the difficulties, you can see how much she loved her husband’s family. A little too quickly wrapped u
Mar 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Fascinating read of an American woman who married a Saudi in the '40s and the ensuing years of having children and living in a Muslim country. Although the writer was upbeat and gracious, life in the Middle East surely did not exhibit the democracy and freedom that is enjoyed in the West.
Jan 23, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this a whole lot more than I had though I would. I'd certainly have picked it up sooner had I'd known.

This has been around for a while, but recommended by several different folks over the years. It was passed to me today by a member of my French conversation group.
May 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like this book. It was very nice to read another story from an Arab country that counteracted the the last one I read (Honor to the Bride). The narrator's life seemed very fun and I loved reading about everything she got to experience.
Jan 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What it's like to be an American married to a Saudi and living in Saudi Arabia in the 1950s (before oil). Very interesting and detailed story of life as part of one of Saudi Arabia's prominent families.
Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
It was fascinating but disappointing. She discussed her day to day life at length, with vivid descriptions of clothing, customs and food, but she left a lot of things out. Would have been a great book in the hands of a good writer. A superficial read.
May 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: autobiography
This is an autobiography of a woman who was one of the first Americans to marry a Saudi. They ended up moving back to Saudi Arabia and she lived there for several years with his family, and had children of her own. It is very interesting to learn more about this culture.
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
الكتاب تصويري جميل للحياة في الحجاز في المملكة العربية السعودية استمتعت كثيرا به
Mar 08, 2009 marked it as to-read
story of a Californian who married into a Saudi family in the 1940s
Carina Burns
May 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
May 27, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
WOW! Read, read, read!
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