DAUGHTERS OF ARABIA
AUTHOR: Jean Sasson
NO. OF PAGES: 256 (Bantam books)
PRICE: Rs.288 (at Flipkart )
BOOK COVER SAYS: Readers of Princess Sultana's extraordinary story, princess, were gripped by her powerful indictment of women's lives behind the veil within the royal family of Saudi Arabia. now, the princess turns the spotlight on her two teenage daughters, Maha and Amani.
EXCERPT: " Was Kareem that rare phenomenon, a Saudi husband who was gentle, virile, practical and intelligent? Had I been wrong in my assessment of his character?"
SWARNALI SPEAKS: Here is the sequel of Princess. Even after calling it a very depressing book, I couldn't help picking up the next one in the series (and am looking forward to reading the next one and all the others written by Sasson). After you have realised the person that Sultana is, we now know what her kids are like. Sultana has 3 children - Abdullah, Maha and Amani.
Each of her three children have taken different traits of their mother - Abdullah has his mother's compassion and respect for women, Maha, her mother's rebellious spirit and Amani, her intelligent mind. Like its prequel,this book also tends to be depressing but the happier parts lessen the reader's misery to some extent. The books is filled with tales of horror that a lot of readers might have been already acquainted with from real life news articles, of torture done on the female sex, on women who are brave enough to try to defy the unjust and often inhuman laws, who are punished with cruelty unimaginable. The book also had tales of success like that of Fayza, reminding us that the ray of hope isn't extinguished and with a few noble men like Abdullah and his father Kareem (who is truly devoted to his wife Sultana and refuses to follow his mother's instructions to take another wife as his religion permits), change is truly possible, a change towards making the land a better and safer place for the oppressed.
Another very disturbing issue that was introduced was that of circumcision on women which is still practiced in several parts of the world under the name of religion. The severe form of inhumanity practiced during this process cannot be expressed in words. Other tales like that of Majed, Abdullah's cousin is a cruel reminder of the hypocrisy of the royals and the secretive acts done behind the curtains. The bargaining of beautiful women to fill the harems of old royal men,and the effect it has on the young minds like that of Ayesha and Maha is another disturbing area.
The book is a very captivating one despite the maddening cruelty described in the book. Apart from the horror tales, the book also has several entertaining anecdotes like how the young Amani decides to punish her uncle as her child mind finds just, stories of women bonding with each other and standing up for each other when one of them is unjustly treated. The book probes deep into the royal family in Saudi Arab, giving the readers a transparent view into the lives behind the curtains, providing insights into the practices and often unveiling the cruelty and misinterpretation of Islam that is rampantly carried on by corrupt religious leaders to serve their own selfish needs. The book should be read with an open mind, to stop yourself from being too swayed in any direction. The author gives one a clear untainted perspective from a princess's POV but the readers must be prepared to form their own opinions based on their own judgement from the situations described.
All the characters in the book are real but their real names have not been used to protect the princess and her family from harm.
MY RATING: 4 / 5