Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arab Info

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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.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arab:

5

Apr 15, 2011

I'm the author of this book. It's great to see the ongoing discussions about women in Saudi Arabia. I am delighted to reveal that under the current King Abduallah, that Saudi women are seeing an improvement in life. Although there is a long way to go, there is great hope that change is coming.

Also, I'd like to let readers know that I am currently working with Princess Sultana and one of my publishers on the 4th book on Princess Sultana. It should be published fall 2014. More news to follow!
4

Jul 01, 2017

Every once in a while I try to read something that is "deeper" than my usual smutty romance selections. This was one of those books. I listened to the Audible version and I could not pull myself away from the plight of Princess Sultana Al Sa'ud and the other women from this story.

Her story offered a poignant look at what life is like for women in Saudi Arabia. Even the wealthiest and most "privileged" women are not spared the cruelty of the misogynistic and oppressive culture. Women are treated Every once in a while I try to read something that is "deeper" than my usual smutty romance selections. This was one of those books. I listened to the Audible version and I could not pull myself away from the plight of Princess Sultana Al Sa'ud and the other women from this story.

Her story offered a poignant look at what life is like for women in Saudi Arabia. Even the wealthiest and most "privileged" women are not spared the cruelty of the misogynistic and oppressive culture. Women are treated as property to be "owned" and managed by men. They are traded like cattle and punished for perceived infractions in cruel ways.

From birth, girls are treated as second-class citizens, a disappointment to their family and inferior to all males. This was highlighted by Princess Sultana's accounts of growing up with a spoiled and sadistic younger brother. No matter what he did, she would always be wrong. Time and time again, she was forced to be subservient to him, no matter how egregious his behavior was.

Sexual abuse is also rampant in the world that Princess Sultana described. Young girls are forced to marry much older men, while older wives are forced to take a backseat while their husbands forsake them for their younger brides. Young or old, there is no bright side for the wives.

While the girls "virtue" is fiercely guarded -- their body sacred until such time as their father or other male guardian decides to gift it to another -- the boys and men engage in a variety of depraved sexual acts. One especially disturbing scene tells the story of a trip to Egypt where Sultana's brother and other men commit acts of extreme sexual violence. It was absolutely heartbreaking and terrifying.

More than anything, I couldn't get past the unfairness of the situation. These women had no power or control in their lives. It is so far removed from the life I'm luck enough to lead that it was unfathomable to me.

The indifference and cruelty of the men also took me aback. The often barbaric punishments they doled out seemed to be the norm. The life of the females was valued so little that they could be extinguished with scant more concern than one would have when swatting a fly. It was unimaginable to me.

Not surprisingly, this book was pretty depressing. The life lead by these women was grim, even as they tried to make the most of the little joy they could find in the absence of the men. Much of the content was upsetting and discouraging.

That being said, I still think that this is a book that everyone should read. It will anger and sadden you. However, turning a blind eye to atrocities like the ones that play out on the pages of this book does not make the reality go away. Raising awareness is important in order to facilitate change -- and change is necessary. Yet again, I am reminded of how blessed I am for the life I was born into.


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3

May 16, 2011

First of all, I do not believe that this work is a genuine autobiography of a Saudi princess. It just doesn't make sense to not reveal the name for 'protecting the identity of the author' after giving such a detailed life story and other intimate details about her family structure and other stuff. It is naive to assume that she would not be caught and put to death. I guess, maybe it could be the story of the maid of the Princess or something. Nevertheless I found it to be a highly compelling First of all, I do not believe that this work is a genuine autobiography of a Saudi princess. It just doesn't make sense to not reveal the name for 'protecting the identity of the author' after giving such a detailed life story and other intimate details about her family structure and other stuff. It is naive to assume that she would not be caught and put to death. I guess, maybe it could be the story of the maid of the Princess or something. Nevertheless I found it to be a highly compelling read and I believe most of the cruel, barbaric traditions and suffocating rules mentioned in this book are unfortunately true. I had stayed in that terrible place for two years and during that period, I was appalled by their religious extremism and zero tolerance to other religions. But after reading this book I realize they not only spit upon other religions but also treat their own women like shit. Some of the experiences mentioned are so heart wrenching I am amazed how a human being can treat another another human being in such absolute cruelty and be so merciless. This book is definitely not an easy read but it would give you a pretty accurate insight about inner workings of the Saudi society and about the wretched status of their women.
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4

Nov 13, 2010

As a person who had spent some time in Saudi Arabia as an expatriate, I can say that many elements of this book had indeed lived up to match some of my experiences there. However, it should be noted with caution that this is a tale that spans many years: back from the time when Saudi Arabia is slowly opening itself up to embrace the world and modernization. The country that I came to, live in and left a few years back was a stark contrast to the hear-say and media portrayal of late. In fact, I As a person who had spent some time in Saudi Arabia as an expatriate, I can say that many elements of this book had indeed lived up to match some of my experiences there. However, it should be noted with caution that this is a tale that spans many years: back from the time when Saudi Arabia is slowly opening itself up to embrace the world and modernization. The country that I came to, live in and left a few years back was a stark contrast to the hear-say and media portrayal of late. In fact, I was surprised of how much improved things are in a rather conservative country. Things have changed for sure.

It should be noted that this was a tale being told from the perspective of a Princess, and rewritten by the author. Sasson has been noted as a 'female-rights' author of sorts, evident on her other works that still linger on tale of abuse/manipulation/oppression of women in mostly Middle East countries (Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan...). Thus, it is hard to read this book without sensing a tinge of bias (especially me) knowing her central theme. Or, of how much the story had been rewritten to create a more shocking drama. You be the judge of the story.

Another caution: it is easy to link the injustice, cruelty and oppression depicted in the book, to Muslims and even Islam by first glance. Islam is a religion of the many people around various places in this earth. Saudi Arabia being its birth place - and that's all. Culture varies between one group of people to another, but that does not mean that the religion bear the burden of misinterpretation. As much as one expect this book to linger so much on elements of faith and religion - it actually dwells more on culture and human value. By all means, it is not to say that Sasson invoke the sentiment in this book. She exhibit great respect for the religion and said so many times through the character and by herself.

At 303 pages, the book makes a good read. The stories are short, yet engaging enough to grip you for hours. Shocking, sickening at times and sometimes just plain beautiful. Revelation after revelation, which while seems extraordinarily unbelievable, is also true.

Saudi Arabia is a beautiful country and the people are kind. This book didn't really focus much on that, and misses a lot on the good parts. Plus, this was an old tale from a royal family that may/may not be as relevant today. Much have to be learned of he life of the common people. ...more
4

September 18, 2016

I am a Saudi woman
Jean Sasson’s book Princess on the life events of a Saudi princess gives great insights on the lives of Saudi women in the 90s. To a large extent, the book holds true to the lives of Saudi women at the time such as a lack of proper education, forced marriages, and honor killings. I haven’t lived through that time, but I can easily imagine such discrimination against women.
Unfortunately, injustice and mistreatment still inflicts the women of Saudi Arabia in our day. Princess Sultana’s childhood brought back to me memories of my own childhood when my father preferred my brothers to us (his daughters) by giving them more freedom, love, toys and sometimes more food. To this day, generally speaking, men are granted full freedom and control over their lives while women are restricted to the home. Their way out of the house can only be achieved either through lucky marriage or strenuous education and personal strength coupled with ample leniency from their male guardians.
Education, however, helped change Saudi men’s views on women. A growing number of Saudi fathers nowadays carry so much pride in being named after their first born daughter, refuse to let their daughters undergo FGM, insist on their daughters education, brag about sending their daughters abroad to finish their degrees, and strive to find the best husbands for their daughters.
It is true that education has made tremendous positive changes to the lives of women in my country, but unfortunately little has been achieved legally for women. A man can still decide whether or not his daughters go to school, work or marry the men of their own choosing. The law does not protect women in many cases and the happiness of women here is down to the level of goodness of their male guardians.
The narrator, nonetheless, fails sometimes to give a true picture of Saudi Arabia. Her stories appear to be either true to her region or class and carries less truth for other regions, classes or tribes. For example, labeling all Saudis as rich, claiming that alcohol has easy access to a Saudi home, or considering the announcement of engagement and weddings extremely private matters. Her narration at other times can only be considered authentic for her time, for the book cites so many almost dead practices such as women and men of no relations to one anther not being allowed in the same car, marrying young girls to old men, protecting babies from evil eye by pinning blue beads to their clothing, or celebrating the virginity of a new wife.
As I read the book, I couldn’t help stop crying with every chapter. Some of the princess’s reflections reminded of a long gone childhood and her anger has reawaken suppressed feelings inside me. I felt that the years of submissiveness and helplessness have washed away my anger and ability to see the injustices of our situation. The first few chapters made me boil with anger, but as I kept reading and reflecting on our lives, my feelings changed to optimism. I am extremely grateful to the women who lived before me. Through their struggle, they helped pave the way for the women of my generation. I know too that women of future generations will reap the benefits of my generation’s struggle.
1

Aug 26, 2013

Read on the blog!!

Okay, I might be way too harsh with this review but that's only because I have never hated a book more than this one right here. So here goes my rant.

This book is said to be about Sultana (Not real name) who is a Saudi Princess and even though she belongs to the royal family she is bound by strict rules that define that women are only used for sexual relief and to bear the children for their husbands. And how they are enslaved by their fathers, husbands and brothers.

First of Read on the blog!!

Okay, I might be way too harsh with this review but that's only because I have never hated a book more than this one right here. So here goes my rant.

This book is said to be about Sultana (Not real name) who is a Saudi Princess and even though she belongs to the royal family she is bound by strict rules that define that women are only used for sexual relief and to bear the children for their husbands. And how they are enslaved by their fathers, husbands and brothers.

First of all, what kind of a person who belongs to a family of famous people would want such intimidate details of her life story (which is different than others, obviously!) to be written by a foreign author and available for publish in abroad? Secondly, how is it possible that when such details were put in a book for everyone to read, how did her family not find it out?

The facts in the book are obvious enough for anyone to understand that it's fake.

Fact #1: She said that she wasn't allowed to go into the mosque. Being a Saudi Princess she should have known that Mosques have a separate section for women.

Fact #2: It's said that women were forced to marry after puberty. I agree that women were (and in some places still are) being made to marry men right after maturation. But it was to avoid going around and having sex before marriage as doing that is unlawful in Islam. But but but I have heard that it's mentioned in the Quran (the holy book of Muslims) that it is the woman who gets to decide when and whom she wants to marry. Remember that it's always the humans who twist rules to fit their requirement.

Fact #3: Woman are given the highest respect in Islam. Women are told to cover themselves so as not to attract the attention of unwanted men but men are not even allowed to look at them with bad intentions as thinking of a bad deed is equal to doing one. And to support this fact, a quote from the Quran itself (translated of course): He who is best to his wife is the best man among you. (However, I agree that polygamy is allowed in Islam but I don't think that anybody in the modern generation follows that as everyone knows that it's difficult enough to handle the expenses and lectures of one woman)

Fact #4: Also a father who educates a minimum of three daughters has gained a palace in Heaven. This is another thing from the holy book that shows that education is not prerogative to women/girls.

Fact #5: There is a story kind of thing that I have heard. It's about this man who asks the prophet "Who is the one worthy of more respect after Allah (The god worshiped by Muslims)? and the prophet says "Your mother". The man asks one again "Who after that?" and the prophet says "Your mother". Once again the man asks "And who after that?" and the prophet says the same thing again. For the last time the man asks "Who after that?" and then the prophet says "Your father".
This does not mean that Fathers are not respected enough, they are but it's just that Mothers are held higher.

There are many facts that I can go on about (like the one about piercing the vagina or something which is absolutely stupid and I think that the author has just made it up) but I just wanted to tell you guys that anyone who believes in this book and let's themselves be manipulated by it, Islam is not a bad religion. It has given it's followers many rules to follow but it's for their own advantage. Like listening to music and watching movies is not allowed in Islam, it's not forbidden but it's said so as to avoid any thing that takes one away from worshiping their God. I think it's the same for Protestants (I heard that like Muslims they too are supposed to cover their heads, not drink, not have sex before marriage, not worship images or idols of God, not listen to music or watch movies and not wear gold).

I accept that women are oppressed but anyone would be fool to believe that Islam is a religion that promotes it. Women of every religion are oppressed by men of different religions. Just because one man from one particular religion does so does not mean that every man of that religion does it. The same goes for Terrorism.

So this is what I had to say about this book. Since I hate this one so much I don't think I will be reading the other two that follow this one.

And I won't be rating this one since I have nothing to give it, but I won't be stopping you from reading it either. You can read it for yourself and understand that it's the biggest hoax ever.

Lots of hatred for the author but love and pasta for you guys,
Raven
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3

Sep 20, 2009

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Princess is the story of a Saudi Arabian princess called Sultana for the purposes of the story. It shows a picture of the life of a woman in the male dominated Saudi society. Her brother is treated like a god from birth while she and her sisters are subjected to whatever cruelty he desires. As Sultana gets older, she encounters more and more horror at the treatment of women. Things chance when she is betrothed to Kareem. Or do they...?

First of all, this was a homework assignment from my Princess is the story of a Saudi Arabian princess called Sultana for the purposes of the story. It shows a picture of the life of a woman in the male dominated Saudi society. Her brother is treated like a god from birth while she and her sisters are subjected to whatever cruelty he desires. As Sultana gets older, she encounters more and more horror at the treatment of women. Things chance when she is betrothed to Kareem. Or do they...?

First of all, this was a homework assignment from my girlfriend at the time. She and my sister in law had both read it and it raised their ire. I said I'd give it a shot, mostly because I knew it would force my brother to have to read it as well.

To put it bluntly, the Saudi women go through some horrible shit. Girls being drowned in a swimming pool for disgracing the family, girls getting stoned to death, raped by their much older husbands, polygamy, etc. It's not the easy reading I'm accustomed to and has raised my awareness of the plight of women in Middle Eastern countries.

It's a good read but not a light read and definitely not for the faint of heart.

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1

Nov 28, 2013

Note: Comments by Jean Sasson and Friederike Monika Adsani or their fake accounts will automatically be deleted.

I am an American who has an interest in both Muslims and Arab countries. I got this book for Christmas. It is a very gripping story, a real page-turner. However, while reading through it I couldn't help noticing that the way the book was written just seemed....off. It read like a novel: the way the chapters were structured, the horrifying crimes committed by the males in the story (I'm Note: Comments by Jean Sasson and Friederike Monika Adsani or their fake accounts will automatically be deleted.

I am an American who has an interest in both Muslims and Arab countries. I got this book for Christmas. It is a very gripping story, a real page-turner. However, while reading through it I couldn't help noticing that the way the book was written just seemed....off. It read like a novel: the way the chapters were structured, the horrifying crimes committed by the males in the story (I'm not saying horrible things aren't done, I just find it hard to believe that EVERY male in Saudi Arabia is basically a heartless idiot like they are portrayed in this book), and the protagonist's unavoidably American Feminist view of the things happening in her country.

I did some research and discovered that apparently the author was sued for plagiarism (although, in the interests of being fair, she did win) and this book has been accused of basically being a novel claiming to be the truth. I would have to say I agree with that assessment. It read like a novel. The covers of this book and other books by the same author all have that "fiction sensational novel" type of cover. The titles sound like novel titles. The blurbs written for this and the other books in the trilogy read like blurbs for fictional novels.

If you compare it to other books written on the hardships women in the Arab world have faced you can immediately tell a difference in both the writing (they do not read like entertaining sensational novels, they read like true stories of hardship) and just the covers and blurbs for them (other books don't have "fiction book" covers and the blurbs don't read like the blurbs for novels) I had no knowledge of the controversy surrounding this book before I read it but after I was done I had enough doubts about its authenticity to research its back story. That should tell you something.

It's painfully obvious in reading through this book that it is fiction. If you are curious and wish to read this novel for yourself I recommend just getting it from your library so you in no way financially support someone who advertises fiction under the guise of truth. I have checked out her other books and it seems the author is simply attempting to profit from our curiosity about other cultures and peoples and basically slandering them in her writing. Even worse, she fills our heads with untrue stereotypes that people from these countries have to confront when they are in our country. Inexcusable.

If you truly want to know about the hardships women face in other countries there are plenty of true biographies written by the women who have survived:
In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom (Saudi Arabia)
Dear Zari: The Secret Lives of the Women of Afghanistan (Afghanistan)
The Favored Daughter: One Woman's Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future (Afghanistan)
The Girl with Three Legs: A Memoir (Somalia)
I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced (Yemen)
Inside The Kingdom: My Life In Saudi Arabia (Saudi Arabia)
I would recommend those over anything written by this author any day. ...more
2

Dec 30, 2009

After reading this book and comments from other readers, i really feel like i need to say something regarding Islam and Muslims because I am a Muslim.
To all people who read the book, don't be mislead by what you read. That is not the true picture of Islam. What is portrayed in the story is more of culture-based, not religion (Islam particularly). The way the men in the story treated their women is not what is taught in Islam. I know because I am a Muslim, living in a Muslim community. In Islam, After reading this book and comments from other readers, i really feel like i need to say something regarding Islam and Muslims because I am a Muslim.
To all people who read the book, don't be mislead by what you read. That is not the true picture of Islam. What is portrayed in the story is more of culture-based, not religion (Islam particularly). The way the men in the story treated their women is not what is taught in Islam. I know because I am a Muslim, living in a Muslim community. In Islam, women are respected. In Saudi Arabia, women are treated that way because that's their culture, not because they are following the teaching of Islam.
It is true that we, Muslim women, need to cover certain parts of our body. I do it and is not forced to do it. I am not denied the right to educate myself, or to work. I am an educated person, working in professional field, earning 4 figures monthly, and i am married and me and my husband shares the same responsibility in marriage. i am NOT denied to my right of doing what i want.
So, the point is, please don't generalise Muslims and Islam after reading this book. ...more
5

Oct 18, 2007

Princess, by Jean Sasson is the life story of a Saudi princess as told to an American journalist. It details the dysfunction, hypocrisy and imposed inertia of the royal family in general, and depravity of some members in particular. Most of all, it describes the gilded but treacherous cage in which royal women are forced to live, and the vulnerability of all Saudi & foreign worker women in the Kingdom.

On a personal note, if I thought the Saudis were a bunch of troglodyte degenerates Princess, by Jean Sasson is the life story of a Saudi princess as told to an American journalist. It details the dysfunction, hypocrisy and imposed inertia of the royal family in general, and depravity of some members in particular. Most of all, it describes the gilded but treacherous cage in which royal women are forced to live, and the vulnerability of all Saudi & foreign worker women in the Kingdom.

On a personal note, if I thought the Saudis were a bunch of troglodyte degenerates before, this book only reinforced that impression. There are some passages in the book that I’ll never forget although I’d just as soon purge those scenes from my brain. Princess “Sultana” (through Sasson) tells a compelling story and there’s plenty of sympathy to be had there. Some criticize Sultana’s narrative, though, saying that Saudi Arabia isn’t like that anymore and her story doesn’t apply to all Saudi women, blah, blah, blah. I say she was just telling her own story as a royal woman living under those specific rules. She also states that if change is going to happen, it would be provoked by middle class women, thus declaring that there are differences in society dynamics. Definitely worth a read – to get an idea of this particular Saudi’s life – and to better appreciate one’s own.
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3

Sep 02, 2019

I'm not entirely sure how to review this book. Books that hide the true identity of the person being written about leave themselves open to claims of being a 'fake'. In fact, a plagiarism suit was filed against Jean Sasson, but was subsequently dismissed by the court.

Anyway, if the events in this book are true, the lives of many of the people in the book are horrendous. It makes me sad to think of these atrocities, and all the other atrocities worldwide. It seems humans will never learn to treat I'm not entirely sure how to review this book. Books that hide the true identity of the person being written about leave themselves open to claims of being a 'fake'. In fact, a plagiarism suit was filed against Jean Sasson, but was subsequently dismissed by the court.

Anyway, if the events in this book are true, the lives of many of the people in the book are horrendous. It makes me sad to think of these atrocities, and all the other atrocities worldwide. It seems humans will never learn to treat each other with respect, and kindness. Sad.

3 Stars = I liked the book. ...more
1

September 24, 2013

This Story Does Not Ring True
I am an American who has an interest in both Muslims and Arab countries. I got this book for Christmas. It is a very gripping story, a real page-turner. However, while reading through it I couldn't help noticing that the way the book was written just seemed....off. It read like a novel: the way the chapters were structured, the horrifying crimes committed by the males in the story (I'm not saying horrible things aren't done, I just find it hard to believe that EVERY male in Saudi Arabia is basically a heartless idiot like they are portrayed in this book), and the protagonist's unavoidably American Feminist view of the things happening in her country.

I did some research and discovered that apparently the author was sued for plagiarism and this book has been accused of basically being a novel claiming to be the truth. I would have to say I agree with that assessment. It read like a novel. The covers of this book and other books by the same author all have that "fiction sensational novel" type of cover. The titles sound like novel titles. The blurbs written for this and the other books in the trilogy read like blurbs for fictional novels.

If you compare it to other books written on the hardships women in the Arab world have faced you can immediately tell a difference in both the writing (they do not read like entertaining sensational novels, they read like true stories of hardship) and just the covers and blurbs for them (other books don't have "fiction book" covers and the blurbs don't read like the blurbs for novels) I had no knowledge of the controversy surrounding this book before I read it but after I was done I had enough doubts about its authenticity to research its back story. That should tell you something.

It's painfully obvious in reading through this book that it is fiction. If you are curious and wish to read this novel for yourself I recommend just getting it from your library so you in no way financially support someone who advertises fiction under the guise of truth. I have checked out her other books and it seems the author is simply attempting to profit from our curiosity about other cultures and peoples and basically slandering them in her writing. Even worse, she fills our heads with untrue stereotypes that people from these countries have to confront when they are in our country. Inexcusable.

If you truly want to know about the hardships women face in other countries there are plenty of true biographies written by the women who have survived (Slave, Dear Zari, The Favored Daughter, etc). I would recommend those over anything written by this author any day.
1

September 3, 2013

Doubting the authorship of this story
As I was reading this book something about it just didn't ring true. It isn't the events, as there are stonings even in the news today, nor was it the life of Muslim women depicted, quick research can reveal their secluded and difficult existence, it was more that the Princess was so one dimensional. It read like a Middle Eastern Scarlet O'Hara in the required Muslim clothing yet full of spunk and hardheadedness just like a heroine from an American romance novel. So with a few clicks of my mouse I discovered that there is a very good probability that this story was "lifted" by Jean Sasson from an Austrian woman named Friederike Monika Adsani who had married a British educated medical student form a wealthy Kuwaiti family.

Ms. Adsani wrote a manuscript called "Cinderella in Arabia" and the similarities between the two are hard to ignore. Those who have read the manuscript point to how rich the main character is in comparison to the Jean Sasson version. I just knew something was wrong with this Princess character.

If you want to read a "true" story that has been verified read Disfigured: A Saudi Woman's Story of Triumph over Violence by Rania al-Baz or any of the other numerous stories to come out of the Middle East.
3

Oct 07, 2010

3.5 stars
I was slightly put off by the way Princess Sultana tried to portray her life as somehow representative of what average Saudi women have to endure. The reality for most women there is so much worse. She does mention some examples of what happened to other women, but her tone is often self-pitying. "I was born free, yet today I am in chains." Give me a break! Her life of leisure was a dream compared to the lives of most Saudi women. Here's what filled her days:

"Since the servants fed the 3.5 stars
I was slightly put off by the way Princess Sultana tried to portray her life as somehow representative of what average Saudi women have to endure. The reality for most women there is so much worse. She does mention some examples of what happened to other women, but her tone is often self-pitying. "I was born free, yet today I am in chains." Give me a break! Her life of leisure was a dream compared to the lives of most Saudi women. Here's what filled her days:

"Since the servants fed the children their morning meal and organized their days, I generally slept until noon. After a snack of fresh fruits, I would soak in the tub in a leisurely manner. After dressing, I would join Kareem for a late lunch. We would lounge and read after our meal, and then Kareem and I would take a short nap...
I attended women's parties in the late afternoon...We almost always attended a dinner party in the evenings, for we were of a most select group that entertained mixed couples..."

You poor baby! Such a hard life. And when things were at their worst, you had unlimited financial resources and gullible private plane pilots at your disposal so you could run away undetected, taking your children with you. If life there is so bad, why did you go back after escaping so successfully?

I did find the book to be an interesting peek into the lives of the Saudi royals, but I wouldn't read the follow-up books. Sultana's friend Jean Sasson writes well enough, but she makes a lot of errors in language usage that should have been caught by editors. For example, she uses "restrain" when she means "refrain," and "my duplicity of the pilot" instead of "toward the pilot."
I can't help it, these mistakes just jump off the page at me.

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5

Oct 06, 2015

This is truly a fabulous book about the life and family of Princess Sultana. It has a touch of humour, despite the suffering. Very defiant and is certainly eye opening in a way we could never imagine. This book had the true Arab feel to it. It makes you want to learn more about the Saudi Arabia culture and their royal family.

This is the story of Princess Sultana, a Saudi princess, living a life of extreme wealth and yet experiencing poverty within the realm of freedom and equality. Princess This is truly a fabulous book about the life and family of Princess Sultana. It has a touch of humour, despite the suffering. Very defiant and is certainly eye opening in a way we could never imagine. This book had the true Arab feel to it. It makes you want to learn more about the Saudi Arabia culture and their royal family.

This is the story of Princess Sultana, a Saudi princess, living a life of extreme wealth and yet experiencing poverty within the realm of freedom and equality. Princess Sultana reveals the darker side of the lives of many women in Saudi.

I have to admit there were some parts that's difficult to read. There were some terrifying revelations about young women of barely fourteen being stoned to death, drowned in the house swimming pool with weights tied to them, etc. by their own family in the name of honour killing.

The horrifying details of the women's plights and Sultana's rebellion about the situation make for an emotional read. This is such a gripping book and will definitely make you laugh, sad, angry and relieved. A highly recommended read. ...more
4

Oct 22, 2007

I seriously dont know if the book is fiction or non-fiction. But few months after reading the book I saw an interview of some Arabian princess on a news channel. The incidents she shared sounded so same to the book. It talks about the kind of life women lead in Saudi Arabia. It discloses some shocking facts like a young girl stoned to death and a girl child was married to a man of 50's. The life of a princess in Arab is only about gold and dimonds but when it comes to self respect and love, she I seriously dont know if the book is fiction or non-fiction. But few months after reading the book I saw an interview of some Arabian princess on a news channel. The incidents she shared sounded so same to the book. It talks about the kind of life women lead in Saudi Arabia. It discloses some shocking facts like a young girl stoned to death and a girl child was married to a man of 50's. The life of a princess in Arab is only about gold and dimonds but when it comes to self respect and love, she gets none. ...more
4

Nov 17, 2016

“I would be the master of my life, no matter what actions I would have to take or pain I would have to endure”
― Jean Sasson, Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia


Reading Sultana’s story was painful. But it really gave me a window into what women are treated like in some countries.

It is a tough book to read. And it really shows the differences in cultures. One reads this book with growing horror and dread. It is very frightening.

What does come through is Sultana's “I would be the master of my life, no matter what actions I would have to take or pain I would have to endure”
― Jean Sasson, Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia


Reading Sultana’s story was painful. But it really gave me a window into what women are treated like in some countries.

It is a tough book to read. And it really shows the differences in cultures. One reads this book with growing horror and dread. It is very frightening.

What does come through is Sultana's strength and determination. As difficult as the subject is it is an important book and one that I can say with 100 percent certainty I am glad I read.


I think this would make an excellent book club selection. There’s definitely a lot to think about and to talk about and to ponder. Though her story is hard to read, I so applaud her for telling it as I will never forget this book. ...more
4

Nov 26, 2015

Jean Sasson can tell a good story.I kept reading and also read the next two volumes in the series,Daughters of Arabia and Desert Royal. It is a bit debatable if these books (about the lives of a Saudi Arabian princess and her family) are entirely based on facts.
Is Princess Sultana for real,or is she a figment of the author's imagination ? Or is this book,a mixture of fact and fiction ? Whatever the truth,this book shocks,and it entertains.
That said,Saudi women do face plenty of issues and the Jean Sasson can tell a good story.I kept reading and also read the next two volumes in the series,Daughters of Arabia and Desert Royal. It is a bit debatable if these books (about the lives of a Saudi Arabian princess and her family) are entirely based on facts.
Is Princess Sultana for real,or is she a figment of the author's imagination ? Or is this book,a mixture of fact and fiction ? Whatever the truth,this book shocks,and it entertains.
That said,Saudi women do face plenty of issues and the royal family indulges in plenty of excesses.There is one set of rules for them,and a different set of rules for their subjects,and those whom they want to punish.
The descriptions of life in the desert kingdom,the traditions,the repression of women and the luxurious lifestyle of the royal family, make for a rather incongruous, though very interesting mix. ...more
0

Jul 18, 2008

As a woman who has traveled to Saudi Arabia and having worn the veil; I have to admit, when I read the stories of these women Jean Sasson writes of, I now feel--looking back on wearing the veil--that I was somehow an imposter (I can't explain it any better than that) when comparing my life with the lives of these women. My wearing the veil was only compulsory when I went outside the confines of the base on which I was stationed; to these women it is a way of life. I couldn't help but feel that As a woman who has traveled to Saudi Arabia and having worn the veil; I have to admit, when I read the stories of these women Jean Sasson writes of, I now feel--looking back on wearing the veil--that I was somehow an imposter (I can't explain it any better than that) when comparing my life with the lives of these women. My wearing the veil was only compulsory when I went outside the confines of the base on which I was stationed; to these women it is a way of life. I couldn't help but feel that not only are their faces hidden behind these veils, but so are the lives they live....often lives that are simply unthinkable.

And I thought it ironic that....women are veiled to protect first their purity, then, as married women, their virtue. It is the women's urges and desires their husbands, fathers, and brothers wish to control and suppress.....being men, I suppose they're too stupid to realize that if they want to control and suppress a woman's urges (we CAN see, boys) that it should be themselves who are wearing the damned veils..... ...more
5

Apr 19, 2014

It's SHOCKING and SICKENING in every possible way! I had a few "that-can't-be-true" moments and I really wished that it wasn't a true story, bc knowing that those acts against women are real and are happening now and are not just history is simply heartbreaking.

I really liked this book although I wished for a better happy ending.
1

Oct 17, 2010

This book was terrible. Terribly written, edited terribly, and I have serious reservations over the authenticity of this book. While I do not question that women are treated very poorly in Saudi Arabia and several other Middle Eastern countries, I have a hard time believing that this 'autobiography by proxy' is true. When I picked up this book, the quick internet research I did brought up the pettiness between Jean Sasson and her would-be plagiarism victim and I find it hard to respect an author This book was terrible. Terribly written, edited terribly, and I have serious reservations over the authenticity of this book. While I do not question that women are treated very poorly in Saudi Arabia and several other Middle Eastern countries, I have a hard time believing that this 'autobiography by proxy' is true. When I picked up this book, the quick internet research I did brought up the pettiness between Jean Sasson and her would-be plagiarism victim and I find it hard to respect an author that endeavors in internet warfare like a middle-school version of "Gossip Girls". If this woman, "Sultana", is such a prominent figure in Saudi Arabian royalty, I think it would be relatively easy to figure out her true identity. "Sultana" gives plenty of hints as to what her lineage is, including her mother and father's birth dates, her own birth date, and given the severity of some of dramas written about in the book, one would think that somebody in Saudi Arabia would say, HEY, I know who that is! And there, she'd immediately be put to death, at least according to the book, and guess what? The media would find out about it! ...more
5

Jan 10, 2009

Remember Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale? This is the real handmaid's tale. First published in 1992, it has been reissued in paperback. While some of the facts cited about women's lives in Saudi Arabia may have changed since then, most of the story is still, unfortunately, true. Not an easy book to read, but one that gives voice to a whole group of women you never hear from.
5

March 20, 2017

Eye Opening
I know something of the world, but I had no idea....zero idea....of the extent of subjugation of women in Saudi Arabia as described in this book. I kept putting it down, not because I didn't like it, but because the misogynistic society described within its pages was so overwhelming. Why do the men of the middle east have to dominate women to this extent? There is great evil in this kind of cruelty towards the female gender. They are afraid of women. Why? I don't know whether to recommend this book or not. It was interesting, but shocking and upsetting. I came away from it angry, very angry.
1

Aug 07, 2011

This book is pure fiction. I do not say that just because I am a Muslim from Saudi Arabia. I'm saying it because it is true. There are a number of problems with this book, including factual errors and situations that are unlikely/implausible.

My three main problems are:

1. For starters, how does someone just "traveling" to Saudi Arabia just happen to befriend a princess and extract the many details of her life in this book? She's a princess, not a woman on the street, who would still be much This book is pure fiction. I do not say that just because I am a Muslim from Saudi Arabia. I'm saying it because it is true. There are a number of problems with this book, including factual errors and situations that are unlikely/implausible.

My three main problems are:

1. For starters, how does someone just "traveling" to Saudi Arabia just happen to befriend a princess and extract the many details of her life in this book? She's a princess, not a woman on the street, who would still be much more private about intimate details of her life.

2. She conveniently has to rename the princess for "safety." If all of the events that happened in this book happened to a specific family member, it would be well known by one of the royals who it was, and I'm not sure she'd get away with it, Insha'Allah. How could these details be so vivid and how could someone within the royal family not know who it was? She could easily be prosecuted.

3. The language used is archaic and unrealistic. A lot of Westerners are of the opinion that Arabs speak like the characters in the "Arabian Nights." While, to some Americans, an Arab's way of speaking may sound formal in some ways compared to modern American slang, it's not so archaic that when you read the sentence, it seems that "thou" would make more sense then modern equivalents in the contexts used in the book.

Conclusion:This book is fiction masquerading as an autobiography. It reads like trash, and the main character is incredibly hard to sympathize with, as she is ungrateful and a spoiled feminist. ...more
1

Apr 13, 2013

A very questionable book. How can it be true and still be published if Saudi is such a strict and even ferocious country? How can this princess (and the writer) still be alive? There are facts that she mentioned - she can not hide from the Royal family :) And all these awful men actions that are described there: sure, there are a lot of restrictions of women rights in Saudi but living here I can't say that local women feel abused and miserable.Of course it depends on family, but lot of them can A very questionable book. How can it be true and still be published if Saudi is such a strict and even ferocious country? How can this princess (and the writer) still be alive? There are facts that she mentioned - she can not hide from the Royal family :) And all these awful men actions that are described there: sure, there are a lot of restrictions of women rights in Saudi but living here I can't say that local women feel abused and miserable.Of course it depends on family, but lot of them can develop and even work if they want. And where the remarkable events of Saudi history? They should have influenced the life of the princess for sure!
So... this is just one of the book aimed to shock public. It's a pity that those who have never been here will most likely believe it :(
And don't read it if you have to go to Saudi - you will be scared for nothing. ...more

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