In a land where Kings still rule, I am a Princess. You must know me only as Sultana, for I cannot reveal my true name for fear that harm will come to me and my family for what I am about to tell you.
Think of a Saudi Arabian princess and what do you see? A woman glittering with jewels, living a life of unbelievable luxury. She has gold, palaces, swimming-pools, servants, 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 the veil, she is a prisoner, her jailers her father, her husband, her sons.
'Sultana' is a member of the Saudi royal family, closely related to the King. For the sake of her daughters, she decided that it was time for a woman in her position to speak out about the reality of life for women in her country, whatever their rank. She tells of her own life, from her turbulent childhood to her arranged marriage - a happy one, until her husband decided to take a second wife - and of the lives of her sisters, her friends and her servants. In contrast to the affection and easy camaraderie amongst the women, she relates a history of appalling oppression against them, everyday occurrences that in any other culture would be seen as shocking human rights violations: forced marriages, servants bullied into sex slavery, summary executions.
Princess is a testimony to a woman of indomitable spirit and great courage. By speaking out, 'Sultana' risked bringing the wrath of the Saudi establishment upon her head and upon the heads of her children. For this reason, she told her story anonymously.
In this consistently gripping work, the American-born Sasson ( The Rape of Kuwait ) recounts the life story of a Saudi princess she met while living in Saudi Arabia. The pseudonymous Sultana is a niece of King Faisal. Her father had four wives and a palace for each of them. Her older sister was circumcised before a ``modern'' doctor intervened on behalf of Sultana and her eight other sisters; their father treated all 10 as breeding animals, useless until old enough to be married off and to produce sons for their husbands. One sister, wed to a 62-year-old sexual sadist, attempted suicide. Sultana, the family's rebel, had the luck to marry a man who valued her spirit and intelligence. Yet when, after bearing five children, she could bear no more, he prepared to take another wife; Sultana fought this, as she had fought every other injustice and indignity her culture inflicted on her. In Sasson's telling, Sultana's story is a fast-paced, enthralling drama, rich in detail about the daily lives of the Saudi royals and packed with vivid personal sketches of the ruling clan and sharp opinions about the sexual mores, politics, religion and culture of this still-feudal nation. An appalling glimpse of the conditions endured by even such privileged women as the attractive, well-born Sultana. Photos not seen by PW . First serial to Cosmopolitan; Literary Guild alternate; author tour. ( Sept. )
Continue to read this series over and over. Love jean sasson's writing style, she really creates the scene