Kristine's Reviews > Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia

Princess by Jean Sasson
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's review
Mar 31, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: true-life-stories, modern-lit, religion-and-or-lds
Read in January, 2009

** spoiler alert ** Every woman should read this book!! This book is amazing in one facet: It literally made me grateful for the freedom to drive a car, blog, and have an equal partnership with my husband.

I would have rated the book 5 stars, but the "princess" just grated on my nerves. If there is any person out there that is as self-centered as she is it would be hard to do so. At times she paints painful pictures of suffering and brutality and injustice. And yet it never occurs to her -- not one time -- to use the things within her ability ($$$$) to relieve the suffering of others (the poor, the sex slaves, etc.) I just really think she could have started some charitable organization instead of lying in her gold plated bathtub eating imported strawberries bemoaning the fact she doesn't have the right to drive a car. All of the horrible stories she related, that happened to others . . . it didn't seem like she ever had true empathy for them. More like her response was always the same, "SEE??!! See the monstrosities that these men are capable of?? These men that are repressing ME! ME! ME!"

On a side note I would say Saudi Arabia is likely very much the same today. I worked in Agency Billing at ISU -- where we bill different agencies for tuition of students they have promised to pay for. A good majority of those are for Saudi Arabian students here on the King Fallujah Scholarship (or something like that). If any of them have royal blood they qualify for Free Tuition, Fees, Books, Housing, Healthcare + Living Allowance paid by the Royal Embassy in DC (SArabia gov't). And one of my Pakistani friends told him one of the boys came to him and offered $5k to find a girl for the night for him. Uugggh, yeah, makes me barf.

This book is not flattering in any way to Saudi Arabia . . .

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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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Brandy Kristine, I have read this book. We read it in our book club here in Indiana. I am interested to hear what you think. A lot of people really liked it in my book club, and while I liked it, it wasn't as moving to me as some other books I have read that are like this.

Annette I think you may have missed the whole point of the book. She can't start a charitable organization for women because women have no rights. Women are nothing more than sexual toys in Saudi Arabia. Their whole purpose for existance is to please men, end of story.

Kristine I really don't think I did miss the point of the book at all. I really was shocked at what is reality there for women.

But the women there were given some amounts of freedom. They could shop on their own and spend money freely. She doesn't need to "officially" start an organization and be the CEO. But obviously there is quite a latitude and freedom given to royal princesses and how and where they spend their money. It spoke of how women love to get together and chat an gossip and show off all of their expensive clothes and jewelery.

Not once did it occur to these women that they could take some of their excess cash and buy food to donate it to the poor? Or decide to pay their "slaves" more $? My point is she spends the whole time commiserating about her existence (which is horrible) but I think she does have some latitude that in her sphere of influence she could have done good, instead of having a pity party.

I just think there are people out there who have had much worse lives who overcame and went on to do good. So while I appreciate how the book opened my eyes to what is happening there, I do not like the messenger.

message 4: by Annette (last edited Feb 06, 2009 09:53AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Annette Yeah, I can see why you were turned off by her, she did seem like a spoiled brat, but I think that that is another way, that the men control their women. Wealth does have a way of creating a false sense of security. When you are surrounded by lavish, elegance, you can become blind to anything outside of your own luxurious realm, you can become almost dillusional like nothing outside of my own little world matters. Also, I think that the women were taught from a very young age to use retail therapy as a way to escape from their problems.

Another way that the men are able to control their women is through fear. The punishment for any woman who brakes the law is pretty severe. The father who put his daughter in a shed in the backyard with nothing but a hole and a slot for the maid to put the food in three times a day is a good example.

Kristine I guess I just wish a similar book would have been written from the point of view of a "normal" SA woman. Like the wife of a baker or something. Would have made the book MUCH more relateable and powerful, I think

Annette It could be that Sasson had to take what she could get, I mean, how many Saudi women would be willing to take the risk to talk to an American let alone an American writer?

message 7: by Dalia (new)

Dalia I haven't read the book but I'm a Saudi girl who lived most of her life in Saudi. Aside from driving voting and other minorities, we enjoy our freedom in almost everything whether its marriage, work, or studying.... etc. Of course, there are still girls who suffer from the ruthless and ignorant male domination; May Allah help them, but the society is improving a lot nowadays. Especially the youth, boys and girls have come to understand Islam accurately and learned to fight those demonic tribal traditions and separate them from Islam. I have to confess that we do have a horrible reputation all over the world and it's my generation's responsibility to enhance it :)


I'd heard that about this book so I took the story with a grain of salt. But still - I would say that most of the stuff in the book has happened to someone . . . even if it wasn't to the so-called "Sultana". So even through the lens of fiction I thought it was worth reading . . .

message 9: by Dawn (new)

Dawn Hi, Kristine! Wendy Foster recommended this book for our next book group read. She read it some time ago, however, and doesn't remember all the details. So my question is do you think this book is appropriate for an LDS book group? I'm sensitive to violence and abuse, so I may choose not to read it. But I'd like to know your opinion. Thanks!

Kristine I'm sensitive to violence as well, and avoid murder mysteries like the plague, as they are always too graphic.

This is less than those - I would say it isn't too graphic. I wouldn't have objections using it in an LDS bookclub, with the caveat that they understand there is slavery, sex trafficking, and circumcisions (not too graphic) contained therein. It mentions these things happen but does not describe in detail (according to my memory). It could probably go either way for you, but since the world is seen from the perspective of a rich spoiled princess, it softens the blow a bit.

Also there is some disputation on if these things even happened - and how much of the story is fictionalized. I would keep that in mind if you choose to read it.

I hope that helps. :-/

message 11: by Dawn (new)

Dawn Thanks, Kristine, your opinion helps me. Marian Watkins and her family are moving back to AZ this week. I will really miss her. Marian started the book group here even though I mostly lead it now.

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