Harem Girl

Harem Girl

by M. Saalih
4.5 13

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Harem Girl 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must read for a real look at harem life.
scsuber More than 1 year ago
This book certainly held my interest until the last part where the author seemed to have run out of ideas. Not for the prudish.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SuperchickRO More than 1 year ago
I loved reading this book, I didn't want it to end. I laughed, I cried, I went through my own emotional journey with this story. Not many books have moved me like this one did. A definite must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it! I wish I could find other books by this author.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
When I bought this book I was concerned whether the author would fall into that common trap of falling off the edge of erotica and into pornography. It is after all an immensly sexual subject - life of a young girl in an Arabian sheik's harem. Well rest assured. Saalih does a magical job. The novel is compellingly sexy yet tastfully written and has a wonderful story line grounded in history. Saalih has obviously done her homework and produced a winner. Read this book with someone you want to undress!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The late Edward Said proposed in his theories of 'Orientalism' that the Western world views the East through a filter of its own fantasies as a place of ruthless barbarism and luxurious sensuality, rather than as the complex and very human culture it actually is. While Said may at times be accused of oversimplifying his own view of the West, he does touch on some truths: 'Exotic Love Secrets of the Orient' would almost certainly garner more sales in an American bookstore than would 'Exotic Love Secrets of Topeka, Kansas.' 'Harem Girl,' complete with an eye-catching cover of an imaginary Arab slave market by Jean-Leon Gerome, gives us an interesting example of Orientalism. It purports to be the diary of one Mariyah/Sapphira, a disenchanted Muslim wife who concocts a plan to spend time in an Arabian slave harem, in which she becomes trapped and falls in love with her master. The story, of course, is first and foremost a way to describe life in the harem as a backdrop to a slave girl fantasy, with an emphasis on its sensual and sexual aspects. These are discussed in great detail, showing us that the author was diligent about her research. The writing is generally good as well, and the clever Forward and use of Arabic letters at the beginnings of the two main sections of the book are nice touches. I had, however, two difficulties with 'Harem Girl.' First, because it is a Western sexual fantasy, it simply doesn't match up with actual Arab family behavior, which places a heavy emphasis on having children, and assigns status based on one's success in this regard. Sheik Ali's love of sex but disinterest in fathering a family until late in the book comes across as inauthentic for an Arab man of his time, as does the lack of interest in motherhood among the women of his harem. Other features of the sexual fantasy are also overemphasized: like many heroes in romance novels, Sheik Ali is filthy rich, meaning that Mariyah/Sapphira and the other slave girls get to spend a lot of time bathing and lounging around hoping to be called to the Sheik's bedroom that night for a good dose of that legendary and kinky oriental loving, but have few other duties or responsibilities. This is another misconception that can be seen in the paintings of harem life by Western artists of the 19th century, where attractive, fair-skinned women are shown lounging around nearly naked by the pool. The problem is that it's hard to find such characters interesting. Which is the second difficulty with this book: it lacks tension. Life in the harem is too easy, lacking the backstabbing and intrigue commonly associated with the institution, and Mariyah/Sapphira's problems are not solved by her but instead by her handsome, rich Sheik. She displays a nice degree of independence and motivation to get herself into Sheik Ali's harem, but none whatsoever once she is there. We must keep in mind, however, that the emphasis of this book is not anthropological or historical accuracy. It was written as a sexual fantasy for Western culture, and it is interesting in what it shows about that culture. Like all sexual fantasies it is quite specific in its target; it either will hit your button or it won't, much like Ann Rice's 'Beauty' trilogy, John Norman's 'Gor' series, or Karen Anne Mitchell's 'The Usahar.' So while I can't recommend 'Harem Girl' as traditional literature, it does achieve its purpose as a fantasy. And if you are a fan of Edward Said and his views, I'd read it for that reason alone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book because it is a totally believable story with a superb story line. Too often sheik/harem books are premised on unlikely events such as travel back in time or set on some unbelievable planet somewhere else in the universe. Not this story, however, as felt I was reading a true account of life in an Arabian harem in the early 1900¿s. Mariyah the main character starts her adventure as a fourteen years old girl living in Tunisia and ends it in Arabia when she is forty. In the intervening years she is married, enters the harem of an Arab sheik as his slave Sapphira, falls in love and marries again. Therein lies a small but integral part of the plot¿only she knows that she is already married to another man¿until her deceit is discovered. How and why, as a married woman, she enters the harem of a sheik as a slave is an intriguing and cleverly woven story in itself, and what follows afterwards is both warm and harrowing. Expect to shed a tear or two. I bought this book as a present for my wife. It was well received¿as were the thanks the book inspired! If you enjoy sheik/harem slave girl stories you will not be disappointed! However, note the sensible warning on the back cover:¿'A book recommended for the mature and broad minded-not for teenage daughters.' It is quite erotically explicit in parts, but tastefully written, not pornographic.