“Princess” by Jean Sasson (Book Review)

Sometimes a book comes along that puts you in a fog. When you put the book down, you can’t shake the feeling it gives you. This book was like that, which I will probably remember the rest of my life.

Princess is one of those books which I picked while waiting at the airport and then it took its place on my book shelf. I almost forgot about it when recently, someone mentioned this book and I picked it to read over the weekend – I became enveloped in the heart-wrenching lifestyles of middle-eastern women. This book is a biography of an anonymous Saudi Arabian Princess – who has risked her life to tell the tale of life behind the veil of the title is a direct descendant of the founder of the current Saudi monarchy, and has told her story at great personal risk, according to the author, Jean Sasson.

The history of our women is buried behind the black veil of secrecy. Neither our births or deaths are made official in any public record. The common emotion expressed at the birth of a female is either sorrow or shame.” These sentences describe non-entity of women, lead me to much more shocking crimes against women which, in that society, are not considered to be crimes whatsoever. Some true stories, which show how these incredibly courageous women, can survive in this kind of life, bring the reader to cry and cheer simultaneously. Others, which, sadly, lack the happy ending we could hope for, are gut-wrenching due to the fact that they are horribly true.  It’s sad that in today’s world, some countries still have such an archaic view of women.

The dignity, the souls, and occasionally, the lives of these women are lost throughout the course of the book. The issues that are addressed, such as honor killings, sexual slavery, arranged marriages, and female genital mutilation, all bring to mind the horrors that still exist today. This book describes a culture which treats women like objects of reproduction and servitude. It angers me to believe that women are treated like this in a society ruled by men who fear education and liberation will threaten their pleasure-seeking and hypocritical lifestyles.

The book held me captive as the author described the princess’ life – one that I might add that I am glad I am not living. Many young girls dream of being a princess. Well this is a story that debunks the princess of fairy-tales. I realize that I have really got NOTHING to complain about. I can be a single woman, sitting on my recliner in a pair of shorts and sleep-in shirt, reading this book is a right that some women around the world might never have. As I walked to my car to go to work, I thought to myself – How lucky I am to live in a country where I can walk alone, where I can walk with my face exposed, where I can own and drive a car, and have a job. I can love, wholly. I fear no man, I fear nobody. I am truly privileged.

I waited for my destiny to unfold, a child as helpless as an insect trapped in a wicked web not of it’s own making.” ~ Sultana, the subject of the novel but an alias name, is truly a symbol of feminine courage and endurance through the struggles women face in the western world every day.

It is very rare that I find a book that moves me, as this one did. Now that I have read this book, I am anxious to learn more about the current state of affairs in Saudi Arabia: Have things improved even the slightest bit in the past 10 years? I am almost afraid to find out.

I could talk about this book for hours and you would still be surprised and horrified when reading it. You will not look at life the same way again. Emotionally hard to read but well worth it.

Caution: Not for the faint hearted.

Categories: Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on ““Princess” by Jean Sasson (Book Review)

  1. I read it!! And felt the same way…it stayed with me for days…Another great one is “Behind The Beautiful Forevers” – it leaves you changed…

  2. Pat

    When I first read “Princess” I felt the same way too (it’s a very deep story that will stay with the reader). I also got the same feeling, reading the other 2 books that the author wrote in the trilogy: Princess Sultana’s Daughters and Princess Sultana’s Circle. These are all packed with so much info, facts and edge-of-your-seat stories.

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