Synopsis: Think of Saudi Arabia and what do you see? Terrorists spreading fear? Religious zealots? A corrupt government and a fabulously wealthy royal family living lives of unbelievably luxury?
Jean Sasson captures the flavour and reality of life in a country of extremes and contradictions. Princess ‘Sultana’, a real Saudi princess closely related to the King, lives those contradictions, with priceless jewels, many servants, unlimited funds at her disposal, but no freedom. A prisoner in a gilded cage with no vote, no control, no value, but as a mother of sons, she is totally at the mercy if the men in her life… her father, her brother, her husband.
For the first time, a royal Saudi woman opens the door to give readers an unvarnished look inside a closed society. ‘Sultana’ lifts the veil on the shocking world of forced marriages, sex slavery, honour killings and other outrages against women, both royal and common.
Princess is a testimony to a woman of indomitable spirit and great courage. By speaking out, ‘Sultana’ risks the wrath of the Saudi establishment and for this reason, she has told her story to Jean Sasson. This is a real-life story you will never forget.
4 Stars from me.
I read this book as part of a book group, it isn’t something I would chosen to read but I’m glad that I did and certainly the rest of the book group absolutely loved it and it provoked the best discussion that we’ve had as a group. With the possible exception of We Need To Talk About Kevin, which I think gave us all nightmares!
Princess is a real eye opener for anyone who is unaware of the rampant sexism and abuse metered towards women in some parts of Saudi Arabi; today. The punishments carried out on friends of the Sultana are almost unimaginable such is their brutality and lack of context.
I can’t quite get my head around the fact that this is meant to be a true story. Not because of the atrocities, but because if it were all the real life account of a Saudi woman I can’t see how it could ever have been allowed to be published. Yes, granted, it could have been published before anyone in authority realised – but that doesn’t explain the following sequel and so on. However high up in society she was, how could she have evaded the severest of punishments given the seriousness (in their eyes) of her crimes?
I do believe that it is a realistic account and based on experiences of people known to Jean Sasson but I don’t believe that the Sultana is one person who spilled the beans; possibly a collaboration of personal accounts. This in no way lessens the brevity of the book and it’s message, it’s just for me that bit didn’t ring true.
It is a shocking state of affairs that women are subjected to horrific accounts recorded in this book, we all agreed at book group that we felt ashamed not to be able to do something to help. Some Saudi women seem to be subjected to a life of sexism at best and barbaric cruelty all to often.