Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book Review: Desert Royal by Jean Sasson

Desert RoyalTitle: Desert Royal (Princess #2)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 303 pages

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb (from Goodreads):

"Readers of Princess Sultana's bestselling memoir, Princess, were gripped by her revelations about life of unimaginable privilege and wealth inside the royal family of Saudi Arabia, as well as her powerful indictment of human rights abuses in her country against women of all social strata. In Desert Royal she continues her story, at a period of crisis in her own life and that of her family. The forced marriage of her niece to a cruel and depraved older man, and her discovery of the harem of sex slaves kept by a cousin, makes her more deterrmined than ever to fight the oppression of women in Saudi Arabia.

Princess Sultana's cause is given an extra sense of urgency against the background of increased dissent against the Al Sa'uds, and the looming spectre of Islamic fundamentalism. But an extended family 'camping' trip in the desert brings the luxury-loving Sultana and her relatives closer to their nomadic roots, and gives her the strength to carry on the fight for women's rights in all Muslim countries."

My Thoughts:

This is a tale of men with great wealth and power, whose morals have lowered to such an extent that they seek their pleasure at the expense of others. This is a tale of woman who, despite having the means to obtain almost anything they desire at any cost, cannot gain their ultimate desire: Freedom. This is a tale of oppression, in which women have no right to map out their own futures, but instead are married off as young girls to men twice their age and are treated with the utmost brutality. This novel unveils the ugly truths hidden beneath masks of greatness, wealth and power. This is reality...

This book is the third book in the Daughters of Arabia series, the first being the internationally-acclaimed book Princess, which provided a shocking expose on the lives of Saudi royalty by narrating the true-life account of Princess Sultana Al-Sa’ud as a young girl born into a life of wealth and privilege as a member of the Al-Sa’ud royal family. In this book, we are taken through Sultana’s life as a married woman with two daughters, Maha and Amani, and a husband she has grown to love (a rare occurrence in Saudi marriages since women are often forced to wed men who do not suit their tastes).

In this book, Sultana speaks of her despair and disillusionment in the face of helplessness when attempting to fight for the cause of Saudi women. After witnessing the marriage of her niece, Munira, to an evil and heartless older man, Sultana turns to alcohol in an attempt to drown her sorrow. She speaks of the many Saudi women within the royal family who abuse drugs to avoid facing the pitiful reality of their lives. We learn that men have more privileges than women and that it is not unusual for Saudi men to be unfaithful to their wives. We come across a cousin of Sultana’s who maintains a private harem of young girls ranging from eight years of age and we read of the brutal treatment inflicted on women and the injustices practiced in the name of religion, when in fact, most of these practices go against the teachings of Islam.

This book moved me to the depths of sorrow and the heights of fury. It was, nevertheless, interesting, informative and provided valuable insight into the lives of one of the richest families in the world. This book proves that wealth cannot provide happiness and after reading it, I am grateful for the fact that I live in a country that acknowledges women’s’ rights. I would not trade freedom for all the wealth the world has to offer. I would recommend this book to those who are able to read a book filled with tales of injustice and brutality without tearing it to shreds in a burst of fury.

This book rates 8/10.


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