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

Princess by Jean Sasson
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Oct 21, 2011

did not like it

Sensationalist is what comes to mind. While we've all heard "stories" of the messed up things that can happen in some areas of the MENA, especially Saudi Arabia, and this book precisely delivers that - a rehash of all the horror stories of an eastern society that endlessly oppresses women. (I'm not commenting on the actual issue of domestic violence. No doubt it exists. [A true memoir of child marriage in modern Yemen can be found in a book by Nujood Ali] But my problem with this book is that it seems dubious in authenticity and jumps on that bandwagon to make money. That is unforgivable.

My gripe is with the author pushing this story of an "unnamed princess" as a "true story", reconstructed from her "private diaries entrusted" to a westerner, but the main character who jumps off the page is someone who appears as distinctly "western" in her thinking. Maybe it is the fault of the author for adopting this tone, but I'd imagine that a real Saudi princess, who grew up with a lot of the customs, wouldn't have questioned it in the same, all-around condemnatory way a westerner would question it, at least not starting in childhood, as this author/princess claims. I'm referring to the instant hysteria people in the west sometimes get with regards to anything that doesn't accord their norm, such as veiling = 'Oh my gawww it's so oppressive! Why can't women show off their junk' attitude, without pausing to consider that sometimes, some women DON'T want to get leered at by strangers. (Soapbox saved for another day). That was the vibe I got with this book.

Motive-wise, it is unlikely that a real member of the royal family, who has a life of luxury and can in some ways escape the stifling restraints in their palaces or going abroad, would air their dirty laundry this way. There are "only" twenty thousand members of the family, and it can't be hard to figure out the identity through gossip.

Really, one doesn't need to read a dubious memoir to get a glimpse of women's life in the region. There are plenty of books written by journalists who have experience in the area and who writes about actual people and their stories, such as in "Nine Parts of Desire".

[Disclosure: Only managed to read through 60 pages of this drivel]
3 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Princess.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 21, 2011 – Shelved

No comments have been added yet.