I had finished reading Jean Sasson’s Princess long back but was not getting time to share my reading experience with you all. I got engaged on 19th april to my prince charming aka "the sunshine man". I was giving all my time there. Therefore, missed reading your posts and updating mine as well. My engagement programme went well. We enjoyed a lot with few dear and near ones. I just have a small regret that I had chosen a wrong makeup artist for myself. She completely ruined my make up. I looked like a clown on my special day. At least, my man did not run away even after seeing my red painted face. I am thankful to him and God for that. Anyways, back to Jean’s princess.
My love for Jean’s books is just three books old but it is growing stronger with every book. Princess is first book from princess trilogy. Princess somehow reminds me of Maya Angeleou's "I know why the caged bird sings", especially these lines:
"But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams,His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream,His wings are clipped ,and his feet are tied,So he opens his throat to sing.The caged bird singsWith a fearful trill,Of things unknown,But longed for still,On the distant hill,For the caged bird,Sings of freedom."
In the Jean's book Princess caged bird is a female , Princess Sultana who is trapped in her royal cage of Saudi Arabia and she sings through the words of Jean to let the world know about the sufferings and pain of the Saudi women. All the time they dream of freedom, equality and love. Next two books from Princess trilogy are Daughters of Arabia and Desert Royals. The book, which I read, had been updated in 2004 but Saudi Arabia has not changed much since then. Saudi women still does not enjoy any basic human rights. In her book Princess Jean wrote,
“More than a decade has passed since I first penned the first book about Princess Sultana, Yet the book remain timeless. Why? Because life for women in Saudi Arabia remains much the same as when I lived in the kingdom. While there is much talk about needed change for women’s life in the kingdom, and a few women in Saudi Arabia are trying to break the chains that bind them, I’m sorry to report that in the year 2004, the women of Saudi Arabia are still not free to pursue their dreams.”I had read somewhere that if you want to know how a man will treat you, watch how he treats the women in his family (not just his mother). In my opinion, it is also true for any country. If you want to know about a country or how it will treat you, then watch how the male citizens treat its females.
I like the maps of Saudi Arabia, Middle East and Family tree of The House of the Sa’ud in the beginning of the book. Along with maps, you will find brief information about Saudi Arabia and other Middle East Countries. A brief history of Saudi Arabia is also given in the end of book.
After the success of Jean’s first book “The Rape of Kuwait” during the Gulf war, the whole world grew curious about the secretive & mysterious Saudi Arabia. Jean had spent four years in Saudi Arabia (1978 – 1982). She worked in Medical Affairs Administration at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital. There she met and become friends with members of the Saudi royal family. She married Peter Sasson and spent nine more years in the Saudi Arabia. She became friends with many middle class Saudi Arabians and people from other Middle East countries who lived in Saudi Arabia. In those nine years she covered all Arab Countries to know them well especially to see the condition of women. These journeys later gave birth to many real life brave heroines through her books.
In 1983, Jean met a bold, beautiful, smart , intelligent and bit different woman called Princess Sultana. Princess is her story. Jean named her “Princess Sultana” in her book for her safety. Princess Sultana is a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family. She own four mansions on three continents, private jets and Jewellery worth millions but these material things mean nothing to her.
Princess Sultana’s life is not a fairytale. Two most important things for any individual to be happy is freedom and love which sultana never had in her life. Her father never acknowledges existence of her and her sisters. After the death of princess mother her father re married princess best friend. Her brother was a cruel man too. Later Princess married a man of her father's choice and eventually fell in love with him. After few years her husband turned into a typical Saudi man.
Princess will make up laugh , cry and will force you to think.
Excerpts from Princess:
- No memories are left to me of my first four years. I suppose I laughed and played as all young children do, blissfully unaware that my value, owing to the absence of a male organ, was of no significance in the land of my birth.
- From my reading, I know that most civilized successors of early cultures smiles at the primitive ignorance of their ancestors. As civilization advances, the fear of freedom for the individual is overcome through enlightenment. Human society eagerly rushes to embrace knowledge and change. Astonishingly, the land of my ancestors is little changed from that of a thousand years ago. Yes, modern buildings spring up, the latest health care is available to all, but consideration for women and for the quality of their lives still receive a shrug of indifference.
- The worth of a child born in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is still measured by the absence or the presence of a male organ.
- Sara had been veiling since her menses, two years earlier. The veil stamped her as a non-person, and she soon ceased to speak of her childhood dreams of great accomplishment. She became distant from me, her younger sister who was as yet unconcerned with the institution of veiling. I was left longing for the remembered happiness of our shared childhood. It suddenly became apparent to me that happiness is realized only in the face of unhappiness, for I never knew we were so happy until Sara’s unhappiness stared me in the face.
- When I looked out of the window of the plane, I understood what grips the heart of the eagle as it soars overhead, and I experienced a wonderful sense of freedom. My thoughts drifted to Sara and the shocking realization that birds and beasts were freer than my sister. I made a vow to myself that I would be the master of my life, no matter what actions I would have to take or pain I would have to endure.
- Every upheaval is a transition.
- Beauty is great commodity for women in Saudi Arabia.
- I began to live, breath and plot for the rights of women in my country so that we could live with the dignity and personal fulfillment that are the birthright of men.
- Father, with twenty-two daughters from four wives, was often overheard muttering: “Women are a man’s curse.”
- Life changed quickly. I had entered the souq area as an individual bursting with life, my face expressing my emotions to the world. I left the shopping area covered from head to toe, a faceless creature in black.
Why you must read Princess ?
- Simple language.
- Beautiful narration style.
- Princess would motivate you to do something for helpless women around the world.
- To know about mysterious country – Saudi Arabia.
- Good story. Jean surely knows to hold her reader’s interest until the end.
- To know the inside stories of royal familes in Saudi Arabia
- To know about origin of Saudi Arabia
- If you love non – fiction and Jean Sasson.
- If you love reading about women issues.
Why you shouldn't read Princess ?
Oooops ! Sorry ! I could not find any reason. I am sure you would not regret reading Princess.
Do I recommend It?
Yes ! Trust me you would not regret !
A piece of SHE’s rating: 5/5
I have a good news and a not so great news. Good news is that I am getting married, on first august 2013. Not so great news is that therefore, I am not getting much time to read and I am spending money more on stuffs like make ups, dresses, shoes than on books. I got some money on my engagement as gift from my family members and may get more on my wedding day ;-) I would buy Jean’s books from that money. I am dying to read all her books.