Princess Sultana’s Daughters – Jean Sasoon

This book picks up where Princess left off. The cover page states: “A Saudi Arabian woman’s intimate revelations about sex, love, marriage and the fate of her beautiful daughters.” It seemed to me there was more about the traditions, customs, religious beliefs and societal woes of a Muslim country than the story of her family, per se. I certainly learned a lot more about Muslim culture in this book. There are several chapters in particular describing a family pilgrimage to Mecca. The heightened conflicts of religious and social ideas were expressed in her own family’s division: one of her daughters became a religious fundamentalist, preaching to and condemning family and friends. The other reacted to her horror of how men treated women by engaging in a love affair with a female friend. The beliefs and actions of her daughters were very distressing to Sultana as a mother. Just like in the previous book, Princess Sultana’s Daughters describes many injustices and abuse experienced by women in Saudi Arabia. Although I admired Sultana’s cause, I found myself uneasy about some of the means she used to promote her ideas and defend other women: verbal insults, hysterics, physical assaults, even blackmail and petty theft. Perhaps these were the only way to get results when her life was so controlled by men, but all this alongside the tales of scandals and scenes of high drama made me feel at times like I was reading a soap opera.

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