“I was born free, yet today I am in chains. Invisible, they were loosely draped and passed unnoticed until the age of understanding reduced my life to a narrow segment of fear. – Sultana”
― Jean Sasson,
This is the story of a real princess. She is a part of the wealthy Al-Saud family from the great Arabian Peninsula. Sultana is her name adapted in the book to ensure her identity remains hidden.
Born with uncountable wealth, glittering jewels and designer clothes, she has lived in mansions across continents and travelled in nothing but private jets. Surely, life for her is nothing but a glorious one. But take a peek behind the veils; behind the curtains that drape her four walls and, you realize her life is a stark contrast. She lives a life, sans basic freedom; controlled by the male members in the family. Princess Sultana lives life under rules that tighten like a noose. The book Princess by Jean Sasson is her real life account.
The book progresses from Sultana’s childhood to her marriage. Growing up in a family where her father housed four wives, with a palace for each one of them, her childhood was tumultuous. She was a witness to injustices and gender bias. Sultana dared to raise her opinions loud and clear at every juncture, in a society that seldom gave the freedom for women to express their voices. Her anger uncontrollable – at the time of a forced circumcision on her sister, and the time when her sister was married to a 62 year old man, Sultana dared to speak up, despite all other women around being meek spectators. She disliked the preferential treatment given to her older brother Ali, who would get all that he wanted. There weren’t any rules for him. He may well rape an eight year girl, while on a family holiday in Egypt, with his friends. Yet, the act is brushed away as some harmless boyish fun.
Her marriage too turns tumultuous when her husband decides to take a second wife. Not accepting it as a norm of society, Sultana fights it out. Years of being witness to misogyny, she rebels against the society that she is part of.
Princess: A True Story of Life behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia may well be the story of Sultana, but it speaks volumes on the status of women, on the burden women carry on their shoulders in maintaining family honor, and life in a society that’s bound by tight rules.
This post is a part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge where I write about twenty six women characters from books, who have left an impact on me. You can read the previous posts here- Women in Books
The book is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format.