Princess: A True Story of Life behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia

( 256 )

Overview

Sultana is a Saudi Arabian princess, a woman born to fabulous, uncountable wealth. She has four mansions on three continents, her own private jet, glittering jewels, designer dresses galore. But in reality she lives in a gilded cage. She has no freedom, no control over her own life, no value but as a bearer of sons. Hidden behind her black floor-length veil, she is a prisoner, jailed by her father, her husband, her sons, and her country.Sultana is a member of the Saudi royal family, closely related to the king. ...
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Overview

Sultana is a Saudi Arabian princess, a woman born to fabulous, uncountable wealth. She has four mansions on three continents, her own private jet, glittering jewels, designer dresses galore. But in reality she lives in a gilded cage. She has no freedom, no control over her own life, no value but as a bearer of sons. Hidden behind her black floor-length veil, she is a prisoner, jailed by her father, her husband, her sons, and her country.Sultana is a member of the Saudi royal family, closely related to the king. For the sake of her daughters, she has decided to take the risk of speaking out about the life of women in her country, regardless of their rank. She must hide her identity for fear that the religous leaders in her country would call for her death to punish her honesty. Only a woman in her position could possibly hope to escape from being revealed and punished, despite her cloak and anonymity.Sultana tells of her own life, from her turbulent childhood to her arranged marriage--a happy one until her husband decided to displace her by taking a second wife--and of the lives of her sisters, her friends and her servants. Although they share affection, confidences and an easy camaraderie within the confines of the women's quarters, they also share a history of appaling oppressions, everyday occurrences that in any other culture would be seen as shocking human rights violations; thirteen-year-old girls forced to marry men five times their age, young women killed by drowning, stoning, or isolation in the women's room, a padded, windowless cell where women are confined with neither light nor conversation until death claims them.By speaking out, Sultana risks bringing the wrath of the Saudi establishment upon her head and te heads of her children. But by telling her story to Jean Sasson, Sultana has allowed us to see beyond the veils of this secret society, to the heart of a nation where sex, money, and power reign supreme.

A true story of life behind the veil in Saudi Arabia, Princess delivers a gripping account of the horrors and degradations suffered by actual modern-day Saudi women. "Absolutely riveting."--People. Presented by the bestselling author of The Rape of Kuwait. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this consistently gripping work, the American-born Sasson (The Rape of Kuwait) recounts the life story of a Saudi princess she met while living in Saudi Arabia. The pseudonymous Sultana is a niece of King Faisal. Her father had four wives and a palace for each of them. Her older sister was circumcised before a "modern" doctor intervened on behalf of Sultana and her eight other sisters; their father treated all 10 as breeding animals, useless until old enough to be married off and to produce sons for their husbands. One sister, wed to a 62-year-old sexual sadist, attempted suicide. Sultana, the family's rebel, had the luck to marry a man who valued her spirit and intelligence. Yet when, after bearing five children, she could bear no more, he prepared to take another wife; Sultana fought this, as she had fought every other injustice and indignity her culture inflicted on her. In Sasson's telling, Sultana's story is a fast-paced, enthralling drama, rich in detail about the daily lives of the Saudi royals and packed with vivid personal sketches of the ruling clan and sharp opinions about the sexual mores, politics, religion and culture of this still-feudal nation. An appalling glimpse of the conditions endured by even such privileged women as the attractive, well-born Sultana. Photos not seen by PW . First serial to Cosmopolitan; Literary Guild alternate; author tour. ( Sept. )
Library Journal
One must keep in mind the context of time and place when reading this emotional and exciting book to alleviate some of the horror of the injustices endured by the women described here. Equality of men and women has not worked out in any society, but the status of women in Islam is more problematic in that canon law is applied according to the social climate. Consequently, countries influenced by the West, such as Egypt, are more relaxed than countries like Saudi Arabia that are ruled by strict Hanbali law, which subjects women to unwelcome marriages, execution at whim, and the boredom of purdah . In this book, Sasson ( The Rape of Kuwait , Knightsbridge Pub. Co., 1991) tells the fascinating story of ``Sultana,'' an unidentified Saudi princess who yearns for recognition in her own right, not as an adjunct of men. For those who wish to know more, Soraya Altorki's Women in Saudi Arabia ( LJ 1/86) and Paryeen Shaukat Ali's Status of Women in the Muslim World (Aziz Pub., 1975. o.p.) are good. Recommended for popular collections. (Illustrations not seen.) Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/92.-- Louise Leonard, Univ. of Florida Libs., Gainesville
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780967673745
  • Publisher: Windsor-Brooke Books
  • Publication date: 1/1/2010
  • Pages: 296
  • Sales rank: 114,559
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean Sasson was born in the small town of Louisville, Alabama. As a child, she was fascinated by stories of countries and cultures different from her own. This curiosity continued into her adult years, ultimately propelling her to find work in a foreign country. In 1978, she took a job as an administrator coordinator of the King

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 256 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(147)

4 Star

(55)

3 Star

(31)

2 Star

(7)

1 Star

(16)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 257 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2002

    From a muslim girl

    This book was pretty good but I'm kind of disappointed in the way it portrays all middle eastern women as opressed and being forced to cover. I am a 15 year old arab girl who is a practicing muslim. I wear the traditional head covering and I was not forced to wear it as most people might think; i chose to wear it myself. The story of Princess sultana is heartbreaking but i know many Saudi women who have had wonderful childhoods and haven't been forced to marry. There are many independent Saudi women who are doctors, lawyers, and are very educated and not at all opressed by their husbands or fathers or brothers. I think this book stereotypes all Saudi men as arrogant and inhumane. Don't get me wrong, there are some men that treat women as described in Princess Sultana's biography. This book also does not show the true face of Islam which teaches its followers to respect women. Nevertheless, the story of Sultana is heartbreaking and I can't begin to imagine how painful it must have been for her. For anyone who reads this, please remember this is the story of one woman, not all have been put through what this woman has gone through.

    47 out of 55 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2010

    Eye opening

    This is a great and very insightful book, at times disturbing and sad but it is a book that makes you grateful for the freedom we have and touched by the bravery of other women who are not as fortunate.

    20 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderful

    I found this book to be so enlightening. It shows you about the Religion of Islam and gives you a sight on the horrible daily life of some middle eastern women, no matter if they are royal are not. Some parts were upsetting; some were very interesting. Overall, this book was great! I recommend it to everyone who's interested in learning more about the Middle East or anyone who's interested in women's rights. Very inspirational.

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2008

    Fascinating insight into the life of Arabian women

    This subject is so interesting. Not just about Arabian women, but about Arabian male mentality as well. It really makes you think about how valuable freedom and education are - much more valuable than having plenty of stuff. This book is well written, and offers an interesting description of what having extreme wealth and oppression is like. A look into an amazing culture who seem to have little regard for people, except for prized sons. I really want to read the sequels.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2008

    MUST READ

    You will not be able to put this book down. PLEASE READ if you are considering buying this book. It is amazing to learn what people in other countries/different religions have to go through. Knowledge is power!!

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2002

    Pretty good Book

    This was a wonderful, quick read. It will make you mad as hell, and at times you'll find yourself laughing out loud at Sultana, the Arabian Huckleberry Finn. I am concerned about the legitimacy of the authors claim that this is an autobiography of a Princess as told to the author. There is so much detail that it seems the princess would easily be found out by the Evil Religious leaders. This book reminded me a lot of Memoirs of a Geisha. I believe it was painstakingly researched and that it paints a true picture, but is far from being biographical.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    PRINCESS

    EXCELLENT BOOK. I RECOMMEND IT HIGHLY

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2008

    Princess Book Review

    The Non Fiction book, Princess, written by Jean Sasson, illustrates the harsh life of an upper-class Saudi Arabian woman, Princess Sultana. Men control the Saudi culture and treat women, no matter their social status, without respect. Throughout Sultana¿s turbulent life, her spirit never wavers as she struggles to break free from the invisible bonds that bind her to her culture. Sultana discovers that the only way to succeed is to never give up, and this becomes the main theme of Princess. I loved reading this book because it made me focus on the fact that American women are free to be independent and should not take their lives for granted. Princess sheds light on the horrible treatment of women and even young girls in different countries. Sultana witnesses this during a vacation with some relatives in Cairo. One afternoon, she returns home to find her older brother and his friend ¿raping a young girl, no more than eight years old (78).¿ It later becomes clear that the girl¿s mother brought her daughter to the house in exchange for money. Sultana learns that her brother sees nothing wrong in his behavior and that their father behaved similarly when he came to Cairo. For the first time, Sultana suspects that all men are evil. I particularly like the parts of this book when Sultana displays her cleverness. For example, when Sultana learns that her husband-to-be wishes to meet her, she formulates a plan. If she finds this man suitable, she will be charming and well-mannered. However, if she does not like him, she will be rude. In this way, Sultana cleverly controls the outcome of the meeting. Later in the story, Sultana prevents her husband from taking another wife by escaping with her children to Paris. She hides there until he becomes crazy with worry, ultimately accomplishing her goal. This book emphasizes the inequality between men and women in Saudi Arabia. The culture regards women solely as objects of pleasure or as bearers of treasured sons. The Saudi women have almost no say in their lives and must bear the wrath of brothers, fathers, and husbands. When a friend of Sultana¿s is forced to marry, she resists her husband but discloses that she had had a Western lover. Her male relatives punish her by imprisoning her in a windowless room where she will have to stay until she dies. The treatment Saudi women receive is somewhat similar to the treatment of slaves in countries like our own. The Saudi women have no choice but to obey the command of males, just as slaves have to obey their masters. If the women rebel, they must pay a painful price. After reading Princess, I particularly appreciate that women in America have the same opportunities as men and are viewed as equals and with respect. All in all, Princess has made me value my life all the more, and I am extremely glad I read it.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2006

    A Eye Opener!

    This book was great ..im not that much of a reader but when i read this book i just could'nt put it down. I would be in class reading ..in hallways reading..did'nt matter were I was I would still be reading. I recommend this book to all Muslim girls and women.Im muslim myself and this book really inspired me to open my mind.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    This book is truly a one of a kind. The author has smuggled the diary of a real life Princess out of the country ...the Princess is in fear of her life if found out by her family. ...wonderful reading!! I could not put it down...I love the 2nd one too

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2008

    didn't want it to end

    i couldn't put the book down. not only was the book entertaining and captivated my full attention, but it was very informative. i learned much about the life of saudis and the islamic culture. i had to order the other 2 books in the series right away before i finished this book!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2008

    people some one help these ladies

    this book is a very sad one and very heart touching one it also gives us info that someone is in need so please read this book

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2008

    WOW!!!!!

    I'm only a 7th grader yet this book is opening me and my fellow classmates'eyes about the real world and how lucky we are and less fortunate some people are the world is very cruel to some. As you read this book you really get into it and grow mature and sensitive towards others I encourage you to read this book!!!!!!!!!!!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 12, 2012

    Highly recommended! A MUST READ!

    This is a book that everyone, especially women, should read. It makes a deep and lasting impression that you won't soon forget. An eye-opening nonfiction account of life as a Saudi Princess that will dispel any preconceived notions you might have. Riveting.....I couldn't put it down!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2012

    Very interesting book

    This book is a little out of date, but definitely and eye opener to the day to day terror that some women in the world experience. The story of a Saudi Arabian princess is told to reveal injustice toward women. This includes women of the royal family and women who are brought in as domestic help from other countries. I like the fact that this is addressed as a cultural issue and not a religious issue by the storyteller.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011

    There are no words....

    This book is simply breathtaking; the narration as well as the events is unbelieveable. I find it hard to imagine that such a world exsists. However, I am truly greatful that she had the guts to tell her story. Amazing. Read this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 18, 2011

    very sad

    It was such a revelation to hear what torture women still endure in this "modern" age. Every woman should read this.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2011

    Can we trust this author?

    Since purchasing this book I have learned that it may well be a fabrication. If so this is highly disturbing. While it is interesting and a good read I am suspect to the reliability of it's content.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 23, 2011

    Excellent read...A reality check for America

    With our current leadership in Washington D.C., we are headed for such a way of life if we don't change courses immediately. This story is of a very brave Princess who experiences significant heartache, and a difficult way of life. Is that what we want? Is that the road we are currently on? Yes. We are at high risk of losing our freedoms if we don't stand up and fight for them NOW!

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2011

    Enlightening!

    I bought this book in Turkey while I was living there. It is a wonderful read and I have lent it to many friends. Having read it in about 1997, and prior to our deep involvement now in Iraq and Afghanistan, it helps bring to light the plight that young women in those closed societies have to deal with. It is one of my favorite non fiction reads.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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