cover image Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia

Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia

Jean Sasson. William Morrow & Company, $20 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-688-11675-0

In this consistently gripping work, the American-born Sasson ( The Rape of Kuwait ) recounts the life story of a Saudi princess she met while living in Saudi Arabia. The pseudonymous Sultana is a niece of King Faisal. Her father had four wives and a palace for each of them. Her older sister was circumcised before a ``modern'' doctor intervened on behalf of Sultana and her eight other sisters; their father treated all 10 as breeding animals, useless until old enough to be married off and to produce sons for their husbands. One sister, wed to a 62-year-old sexual sadist, attempted suicide. Sultana, the family's rebel, had the luck to marry a man who valued her spirit and intelligence. Yet when, after bearing five children, she could bear no more, he prepared to take another wife; Sultana fought this, as she had fought every other injustice and indignity her culture inflicted on her. In Sasson's telling, Sultana's story is a fast-paced, enthralling drama, rich in detail about the daily lives of the Saudi royals and packed with vivid personal sketches of the ruling clan and sharp opinions about the sexual mores, politics, religion and culture of this still-feudal nation. An appalling glimpse of the conditions endured by even such privileged women as the attractive, well-born Sultana. Photos not seen by PW . First serial to Cosmopolitan; Literary Guild alternate; author tour. ( Sept. )