Books By Jean Sasson

1994 Press Release from Doubleday Publishers on the book,

Princess Sultana’s Daughters

  • She may not drive a car.

  • She may not travel without her husband’s permission

  • She may not leave the house unveiled without risking arrest.

  • She risks execution by telling her story.

Princess Sultana has lived her entire life in the grip of a puritanical male-dominated society from which there is no escape.

  Yet this courageous women risked her life to expose the terrible secrets of her homeland in the 1992 bestseller PRINCESS:  THE TRUE STORY OF LIFE BEHIND THE VEIL IN SAUDI ARABIA.  Now, she continues the story with the help of author Jean Sasson in PRINCESS SULTANA’S DAUGHTERS (Doubleday; July 5, 1994; $21.95), a startling account of motherhood’s joy and pain in the veiled kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Despite untold wealth and privilege, Princess Sultana cannot buy the rights and freedoms women in other cultures possess.  She believes that the way to end her homelands suffocating oppression and abuse of women is through knowledge, courage, and action.  Committed to an unending battle against the status quo, she lives with a constant fear of retribution—even death at the hand of her own husband or father.

  But Sultana’s passion to provide her two daughters with a better life transcends her fear and fuels her desire for change.  During her own youth, the royal princess chafed under the harsh social system into which she was born.  Her daughters face a similar fate, straining against ancient customs in a society that cherishes the past but is judged by a modern world.

  PRINCESS has been called “riveting” and “heart-wrenching,” and that New York Times bestseller galvanized human rights activity all over the world.  In the same tradition, PRINCESS SULTANA’S DAUGHTERS describes a society in which women are denied the most basic rights and freedoms.  But this time, Sasson focuses on the next generation, spotlighting the effects of feudal injustice on Sultana’s royal daughters. 

With candor and humility, Sultana shares the joy, frustration, and “dark intervals of my fear” of Saudi Arabian motherhood and marriage.  She details the difficulties inherent in raising daughters in such a forbidding society and divulges intimate family secrets:

  •  Maha, her adolescent daughter, is a headstrong beauty driven by fear and isolation due to society’s feudal justice.  Described by her father as a “girl of brilliant fragments,” Maha’s gifted mind cannot focus on one goal.  Her mother’s greatest concern is that she is “revolutionary seeking a cause.”  Maha finds it in an experimental lesbian relationship that ends in an emotional breakdown and psychiatric treatment.

  • Amani, the younger daughter, rebels in her own way during the religious frenzy of the Haj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.  Once a sweet and placid animal-lover, Amani emerges “almost overnight from her dormant religious faith and embraces Islamic beliefs with unnerving intensity.”  She suddenly seems “caught by a higher vision, a secret that was in herself, too intimate to reveal to her mother or father.”  Amani’s fundamental fanaticism threatens to destroy her mother’s personal quest to improve women’s lot in her native land.

Every parent will identify with this mother’s anxiety, pride, and despair as she struggles to raise her children with strong values and religious conviction.  But further complicating the tumultuous adolescent years are: 

  •  the Gulf War, in which government gave women temporary freedoms so Western    journalists would not witness appalling Saudi restriction and the roving “morals police”;

  • a strict morals code that executes illicit lovers;

  • a backlash of religious fanaticism that engulfs Sultana’s youngest child.

Gripping and personal, PRINCESS SULTANA’S DAUGHERS recounts one woman’s daily battles to secure freedoms for herself and for the next generation.  Though her successes are modest, she has pushed the boundaries of behavior within marriage and motherhood and opened the door for slow but possible change.  With a debt to Jean Sasson, Princess Sultana has given Saudi women something they have never had—HOPE.

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