Princess Trilogy (Book #1) by Jean Sasson

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PRINCESS - THE TRUE STORY OF LIFE INSIDE SAUDI ARABIA'S ROYAL FAMILY: Non-fiction, Biography Memoir, Religious.

AUTHOR(S): Ms. Jean Sasson worked for Dr. Nizar Feteih, the head of the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre. For the first two years shewas in charge of doctor's meetings, but later was promoted to the high-ranking position of Medical Affairs Coordinator, which basically meant she was Dr. Feteih's right hand. In 1978 she traveled to Saudi Arabia to work in the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh where she met Peter Sasson, her future husband. They married in 1982 and Sasson left the hospital after four years of service, but the couple remained in Saudi Arabia until 1990.During their time in the Middle East, the Sassons made many friends, including members of the royal Al-Saud family, who visited the hospital. The most notable of these friendships was between Sasson and "Princess Sultana", the princess about whose life The Princess Trilogy tells. Sasson is currently based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Image Source: Jean Sasson

BEST SELLER(S): Princess Trilogy, Princess Sultana's Circle, Princess Sultana's Daughters, Princess, The Rape of Kuwait, Ester's Child, Mayada, Love in a Torn Land, Growing Up Bin Laden, For the Love of a Son and American Chick.

Read Swarnali's Review of the Same Book here!

SYNOPSIS (From Goodreads)Sultana is a Saudi Arabian princess, a woman born to fabulous, uncountable wealth. She has four mansions on three continents, her own private jet, glittering jewels, designer dresses galore. But in reality she lives in a gilded cage. She has no freedom, no control over her own life, no value but as a bearer of sons. Hidden behind her black floor-length veil, she is a prisoner, jailed by her father, her husband, her sons, and her country. Sultana is a member of the Saudi royal family, closely related to the king. For the sake of her daughters, she has decided to take the risk of speaking out about the life of women in her country, regardless of their rank. She must hide her identity for fear that the religious leaders in her country would call for her death to punish her honesty. Only a woman in her position could possibly hope to escape from being revealed and punished, despite her cloak and anonymity. Sultana tells of her own life, from her turbulent childhood to her arranged marriage - a happy one until her husband decided to displace her by taking a second wife - and of the lives of her sisters, her friends and her servants. Although they share affection, confidences and an easy camaraderie within the confines of the women's quarters, they also share a history of appalling oppression as everyday occurrences that in any other culture would be seen as shocking human rights violations; thirteen-year-old girls forced to marry men five times their age, young women killed by drowning, stoning, or isolation in the "women's room," a padded, windowless cell where women are confined with neither light nor conversation until death claims them. By speaking out, Sultana risks bringing the wrath of the Saudi establishment upon her head and the heads of her children. But by telling her story to Jean Sasson, Sultana has allowed us to see beyond the veils of this secret society, to the heart of a nation where sex, money, and power reign supreme.

EXCERPT
Ownership of my body and soul would soon pass from my father to a stranger I would call my husband, for Father had informed me I would be wed three months after my sixteenth birthday. I felt the chains of traditions wrap tightly around me; I had only six short months of freedom left to savor. I waited for my destiny to unfold, a child as helpless as an insect trapped in a wicked web not of its own making.

MSM Speaks: A friend recommended this one to me, as I was craving for something real to read. I started off with preconceived notions about Saudi Arabia and Middle Eastern countries. This was an eye opener in so many ways. It's the story of Princess Sultana, the youngest princess of the House of Al Sauds, who always, at some personal level, tries to resist the restricting shackles of certain Islamic traditions. She is the first one to defy her most pampered brother Ali by not giving in to his threats and tantrums. She also goes a step ahead to make his life miserable. Her tantrums and trickery are fun to read, revealing her fiery and unfettered spirit. 

As a part of her growing up, she sees her older sisters, especially Sara, who goes through a reckless marriage, with its horrible pains and atrocities, going through the turbulent times quietly. She feels like a trapped bird and manages to break some rules with her sharp tongue. She faces the loss of her mother along with certain stark realities when she becomes of a marriageable age. However, fortunately, she gets married to a man who loves and respects her. Princess Sultana regrets that she could not do much in the public domain, however, small small steps taken by her make for a positive change in the attitude of at least the Royals. Islamic traditions of halawaabaya etc. are depicted in great detail. 

All in all, it makes for an emotional read, that touches you and takes you in a stride with Sultana's emotions. However the only issue that I had with the (auto)biography was that I did not feel satisfied with Sultana's ferociousness. I felt there was something incomplete or missing in the entire write up. But that's just my opinion and it should  not stop you from picking this one up. Princess gives a wonderful and real insight into the life of Saudi Arabian women. MSM Recommends!!

My rating: 4/5
PRINCESS - THE TRUE STORY OF LIFE INSIDE SAUDI ARABIA'S ROYAL FAMILY @ Bantam Books (Transworld Publishers) (c) The Sasson Corporation 2004
ISBN 978-0-553-81695-2
flipkart price: 231/-INR

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