A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia
by Jean Sasson
This is the story of a woman's life in Saudi Arabia. Not any woman, but an anonymous princess (called Sultana in the book) from a high-ranking royal family. Apparently she secretly conveyed information to the author in order to have her story written, and changed all the names to protect herself and her family. From reading the book, one would think that repercussions would be great upon this woman if her family knew she had publicly revealed what goes on behind the walls of their palaces. Princess begins with Sultana's childhood, where she quickly learns of the disparity in treatment between men and women. Even though she lives in astonishing luxury, her life is constricted by many rules. She has to submit in everything to her domineering father, cruel older brother, and later her husband. She is married at sixteen to this man she never met before. Although throughout the story Sultana herself is fairly well-treated and even receives a measure of education, the dismal situation of many women surrounding her is revealed in awful detail: double standards of allowed behavior, extreme punishments, forcible separations from family when married or divorced, denials of education, constrictions on where they can go and to whom they may speak, etc. etc. This book was dismaying, riveting and at the same time admirable, for in spite of all the oppression Sultana felt, she never looses her spirit and independent thought.
Rating: 4/5 ..... .. 291 pages, 1992
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