M's Reviews > Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail

Stolen Lives by Malika Oufkir
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's review
Jan 01, 2011

it was ok
Read in January, 2011

I found the book in my favorite American Thrift store. Like you I saw the name Oukfir and in my case immediately knew that I had been acquainted with the General and his unsuccessful coup while reading The Spy Wore Silk by Countess Romanones, who wrote about her espionage career. Even Malika's mother is mentioned in that book for her beauty and her boutiques. This book aggravated me to no end. Here is saga of real life suffering. I am a mother, I had the most emotional reaction to Abdellatif, a three year old angel incarcerated? But he is the one through whose eyes I would have wanted to discover this painful story. Ms. "Queen", in my opinion wrote this book, as part fantasy for effect in order to attempt to secure movie rights. She informs us that Gilles Perrault's book, "Notre ami le roi", made misrepresentations, omissions, and got dates wrong. Well what is her excuse? On page 121 she states "But over the years our different stories became entangled, changed and distorted. My (siblings) appropriated mine.

A woman writing in this 20th century and calling servants " slaves" is disturbing. The book editorializes and leads the reader with adjectives. The story is powerful enough to be told honestly and truthfully without adding a Hollywood spin in an effort to secure a movie deal.

In one instance when she talks about their pact to go on a hunger strike, it lasts 44 days, well the same hunger strike in another reference now has dwindled to 20. This bothered me greatly because we people do know of instances where many political prisoners who were sturdier than they were did in fact die.

She elaborated and uses dramatic intonations, along with the incorrect grammar and wrong word usage - such as stamped for stomped. I a foreigner am very well aware of loss in translation issues. It happens too many times in this work that could have been a true outstanding account of how people can survive, by their indomitable spirit.

The timeline suffers, far too often. In one account she watches her sister eat rat or mice dropping gingerly like a Duchess...you know what? I wanted to scream. Throughout this book I got a real sense of someone that has deep emotional issues. Egotistical and totally sold on the belief that she was some kind of royalty. Being adopted into royalty, without formal negotiations, which is what a king can do, and actually being the biological daughter of a King is two very different paradigms.

I felt her insecurity and her constantly claiming this bourgeosie status was maddening. It appears as if she believed that "high society acculturation" could trump humanity and compassion. The fact that she attempted a weak suicide while living in the luxury of the Palace indicated a troubled soul and not just because she was separated from her mother. She saw her mother, and went back home after so many "childish" pranks that were really pitiful calls for attention.

The bottom line is that this is a case of the Sins of the Father are visited upon the children as the Bible states, and not as she says "Render unto Caesar.." which has to do with the separation of church and state and taxes. This is an example of a colonized mentality. The constant references to shopping Paris and Geneva, the boarding schools, she flunked despite her presumption that she is so smart and capable, may mesmerize someone from Iowa but not those of us who understand pomp & circumstance for what it is. A setting apart of a group of people purely by wealth.

Her constant allusion to Russian literature, and claim that the ruling elite denied her reading about the Russian revolution and Trotsky..and she doesn't understand why-makes me want to say..what part of that is-communist propaganda and maybe, just maybe under your circumstances that is not a good idea? Color , Race and Class are an obsession with this individual. The book is about her, her and her. Shrouded with supporting evidence about her family with her as the central "heroine."

Who can challenge her ? After such untold suffering no one is going to demand factual details because no one is going to assume that such a painful story could be exploited. That is what irritated me as I sat down to read this book on New Year's Day 2011, which I finished the same day.

From the beginning I felt destiny has a plan for you! It's called H-u-m-i-l-i-t-y. Sure it's alright for a woman to try and maintain her graces, beauty etc. But after ten years is it really important? I see her as delusional, you appear in rags and you are still haughty? You are escaping from the compound and you don't bother to look back and you walk in a circle? Yes I DO understand you are in a desert with no new gadget GPS, and I will acknowledge that she forgot the alignment of the stars, that is all understandable, but maybe instead of talking a bunch of silly nonsense about who is going to get laid constantly,
her mother could have reviewed that teaching and it is reviewed not "revised" because that is the real world information you need in the wilderness.

I marked just about all 289 pps with side commentary. One was " the only truth in this book" was the paragraph about the little boy.."We are adults, I said to him. We may have committed sins, but not you, you are so pure...if there is a God, he'll take pity on you. You will lead us to freedom." P. 198. The second time she uses God, the first was in lower case. Christmas, Virgin Mary, this woman needs therapy. Is she a Christian, Muslim? She needed it while she was a child and after the horrors of that unfair incarceration she needed it even more.

In one account she states that the eggs were some black smelly things, that she "aired" and then cooked. Later she negates this! you know in 2011 jargon, I really want to say "what's up"? The story is a mish mash of dates and circumstances no doubt true, interwoven with her penchant for story telling. I have never had a book irritate me as much as this book. And I read about 30 books a month and usually 5 or 6 simultaneously because I have that privilege and I recognize it as such and I am extremely thankful that I can do that. Because some day I won't be able to.

I cannot shake the spiritual feeling that she exaggerated to "sell" the book. That Oprah and her penchant for sensationalism has been duped again like the author of " A Million Little Pills."

Perhaps the account in The Spy Wore Silk-which talks about the Massacre, at the King's Palace (the book was written in the 70's) the Equestrian festival in Spain that Malika mentions where she was the only one of her siblings to attend with her parents, the escape by the King as a background and the double cross by General Oukfir, makes one read this account with a critical eye since that account was written by an intelligent, woman who worked for the OSS (*Secret Service) as it was called prior as an agent, licensed to carry a weapon and not involved emotionally, appears refined and hobnobbed with the ruling elite of Europe as painting a background of how the King felt at this betrayal by a confidante he treated as if he was part of the family.

I understand that the Gen. Oukfir wanted a Constitutional Monarchy but the double dealing is treason. The King may have felt he needed to punish someone to maintain control. Most unfortunately it was the General's family. Like Americans like to say, if you do the crime, do the time.

I agree with Yasmin Somji, If you read the Spy Wore Silk along with this book at least you will have received real time information about the history of this debacle. Sure I recommend the book the story is harrowing, do I believe they burrowed out of their cells with a spoon? No. Show me am from Missouri. This is not the Shawshank Redemption. I would love to read the account from the 3 -year old's view, who is now a man over 35, but his devotion (as it should be to his sister) will not allow the real truth out ever. All in all I am glad they are free, and sad they had to leave their beloved country. As I know first hand how that can be.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Marcia Russell The general's family did not do any crime...therefore, should not have to do the time. This was cruel punishment for anyone to endure! I can't believe that you see this so differently than me! We live in a country that is free! Count your blessings

Becky @Marcia... Yes, she suffered terribly and should not have done time in prison for her father's crime. But this review isn't arguing against that truth. It only stated the problems with the author, which is a fair analysis despite her suffering.

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