Fabian Davy's Reviews > Princess

Princess by Jean Sasson
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Nov 13, 2010

really liked it

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 was surprised of how much improved things are in a rather conservative country. Things have changed for sure.

It should be noted that this was a tale being told from the perspective of a Princess, and rewritten by the author. Sasson has been noted as a 'female-rights' author of sorts, evident on her other works that still linger on tale of abuse/manipulation/oppression of women in mostly Middle East countries (Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan...). Thus, it is hard to read this book without sensing a tinge of bias (especially me) knowing her central theme. Or, of how much the story had been rewritten to create a more shocking drama. You be the judge of the story.

Another caution: it is easy to link the injustice, cruelty and oppression depicted in the book, to Muslims and even Islam by first glance. Islam is a religion of the many people around various places in this earth. Saudi Arabia being its birth place - and that's all. Culture varies between one group of people to another, but that does not mean that the religion bear the burden of misinterpretation. As much as one expect this book to linger so much on elements of faith and religion - it actually dwells more on culture and human value. By all means, it is not to say that Sasson invoke the sentiment in this book. She exhibit great respect for the religion and said so many times through the character and by herself.

At 303 pages, the book makes a good read. The stories are short, yet engaging enough to grip you for hours. Shocking, sickening at times and sometimes just plain beautiful. Revelation after revelation, which while seems extraordinarily unbelievable, is also true.

Saudi Arabia is a beautiful country and the people are kind. This book didn't really focus much on that, and misses a lot on the good parts. Plus, this was an old tale from a royal family that may/may not be as relevant today. Much have to be learned of he life of the common people.
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