Princess by Jean P. Sasson
Inside Flap Description:
Sultana is a Saudi Arabia 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 vote, 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 religious 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 of anonymity
She 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, coincidences and an easy camaraderie within the confines of the women's quarters, they also share a history of appalling 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 "woman's room," a padded windowless cell where women are confined with neither light nor conversation until death claims them. Servants are forced into sexual servitude and severely beaten if they attempt escape.
By speaking out, Sultana risks bringing the wrath of the Saudi establishment upon her head and the heads of her children. In the barren, hopeless wasteland that is the life of Saudi women today, free speech is punishable by death. But by telling her story to a Western writer, 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.
My Rating: A+
You would think after years and years of hearing about how Arab women are treated, after being a child in the early 90's when we put troops in Saudi Arabia, that it would be hard to shock me. But even after hearing from my parents and teachers what is done there, I have to admit that there where times when reading this book that I would have to set it down and digest what I'd just read. It was hard to wrap my mind around the passive violence, the archaic and brutal laws for not only women but foreigners to the land as well, and the vast wealth that the royal family in this country controls.
I smiled often at the little victories that these women would obtain and cried when I read of the horrors they would have to go through and were expected to put up with. I was also amazed by Sultana's brutal honesty about not only the wicked men in her country but also the 'lazy' women who would talk about fighting for their rights, but never quite stand up and do what it took.
This is an amazing and eye opening read. I recommend it to any woman!
***The cover image provided is not the cover I own, I have the original cover, which I like much better actually***