• Princess

  • A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia
  • By: Jean Sasson
  • Narrated by: Catherine Byers
  • Length: 7 hrs and 39 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (850 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Princess describes the life of Princess Sultana Al Sa'ud, a princess in the royal house of Saudi Arabia. Hidden behind her black veil, she is a prisoner, jailed by her father, her husband, and her country.

Sultana tells of appalling oppressions, everyday occurrences that in any other culture would be seen as shocking human rights violations: 13-year-old girls forced to marry men five times their age; young women killed by drowning, stoning, or isolation in the "women's room". Princess is a testimony to a woman of indomitable spirit and courage, and you will never forget her or her Muslim sisters.

A New York Times best-seller, Princess was named one of the 500 Great Books by Women Since 1300. It was also an Alternate Selection of the Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club and a Reader's Digest Selection.

©2004 The Sasson Corporation (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Princess

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Wow...

Such a powerful book. To hear a full story of this princess' experience just brings you in and really makes you feel for her. I hope something can be done for women in Saudi Arabia... :(

8 people found this helpful

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I was so ignorant

I feel ashamed to have been so involved in my own life to not be aware of the injustices of women in Saudi Arabia and around the world for so may years and even to this day. I cried multiple times listening to the book and have been awakened to speak up and raise awareness regarding the treatment of women. One of the best books! So grateful.

4 people found this helpful

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Good story but...

Would you consider the audio edition of Princess to be better than the print version?

Probably not. The narrator was monotone and didn't bring much life to the audio portion of the book.

What did you like best about this story?

It was real and authentic.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Catherine Byers?

Not on purpose!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, not at all. The stories were good but 30 mins at a time was enough.

Any additional comments?

Soltana, the princess in this story was one of thousands of princesses in Saudi. In the end, she didn't accomplish anything or do anything historic or even memorable such that reading about her specifically is exciting. She just happens to be one of 21,000 members of the royal Saudi family and talks about the (undoubtedly scary) every day life of a woman in Saudi.

8 people found this helpful

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Read this book!

I was enthralled by this book and sorry to finish it. The title and cover picture almost put me off, making me think of a romance novel, but this is not that! It's a fascinating, horrifying, detailed narrative of the life of a Saudi woman (yes, a princess, but they have many). She is economically privileged, but the story is about life as a girl and woman in Saudi Arabia, and her cruel status as a captive and an object. As I read of the cruel punishments experienced by this woman and the women of her country, it became clear that ISIS hasn't come up with anything new. These horrors really do originate in Saudi Arabia. This story and its heroines are heart breaking essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the lives of women living under Wahhabism.

3 people found this helpful

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Well done.

I really enjoyed this book. A friend from the middle east recommended it, and I'm glad that I picked it up.

2 people found this helpful

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Heartbreaking Reality

True story of how woman and children are treated in Saudi Arabia. Sad, disturbing and heartbreaking that this is still happening all over the world.

2 people found this helpful

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A great understanding of a princess life in Saudi Arabia

This is a well written book that takes you from a beginning in a country where not even a princess is safe from male oppression. Excited to start book number two, Princess Sultanas Daughters following by princess sultanas circle. Great trilogy!

2 people found this helpful

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  • MM
  • 11-11-18

Thankful for my independence

This book makes you appreciate our ability to choose our own educational and career pathpath in the United States. I’m glad that opportunities are opening elsewhere in the world is well. #arabwomen #behindtheveil #abuse #tagsgiving #sweepstakes

2 people found this helpful

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Wonderful Book!

What a thought provoking book. I couldn't stop thinking about it for weeks after I finished. Definitely reading the next book in the series!

2 people found this helpful

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Riveting story!

This book kept me spellbound to the very end. The ability of the reader to bring the voice of the subject to life was incredible.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sherrie
  • 10-04-20

Still relevant today, but take some of it with a pinch of salt

Caution: As a British woman living in Saudi Arabia over the past 8 years, I’ve been a fly on the wall to a lot of changes as this desert land leapfrogs into the modern day and beyond. As a Muslim (by choice, not by birth), I would just say to anyone listening that you must separate religion from culture; Islam elevates women to a high position of honour and respect (in fact, it is said that jannah/heaven is at your mother’s feet). Just don’t go taking this as “the voice” on women and Islam, as I find that the lines between culture, tradition and religion for many born-Muslims are blurred.

Performance: There were some errors in the narrator’s pronunciation of both English and Arabic words, which was a bit grating. There is one noticeable part that has been “stitched together”, i.e. there may have been a glitch whilst recording first time round, so another recording had to be made and stitched in.

Story: As you can probably guess, it’s quite revealing. It’s basically an exposé on Saudi royal family life in the last half of the last century. There are facets of life, behaviour and attitudes which are true of “normal” Saudis too - even today. The story is harrowing in places and you’ll no doubt have plenty of sympathy for Sultana, someone who is likely to be very far from you in every sense.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Sigrin
  • 08-19-19

Behind the veil

This was a good look at the second class status of Saudi woman.

This lady was a princess and described the legacy of shame on the women of Saudi Arabia, as well as to foreign women who come to work in the country.

At the start she came across as a feisty young woman and I was hoping for good things to come. However nothing will change in this male dominated misogynistic society. I do wonder if there wold ever be a chance of change as the oppression of women is so deep rooted.

Sultana speaks of life from the comfort of her palace, however my thoughts are with the normal Saudi women who do not have her lavish lifestyle to cushion the injustices.

It was a big mistake having an older American female narrator, the book was crying out for a soft Middle Eastern voice to put some feeling in the book.

Many moons ago I had the opportunity to work in Saudi Arabia. The salary package was fabulous and I was very tempted. However during the interviews and selection process alarm bells started to ring, which was enough for me to withdrew my application, and in hindsight it was a very wise decision.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Ola
  • 08-16-19

i dont belueve the story

princess's family knew about her writing. there was a flimsy explanation in book 1 and I got the following books expecting to hear how her family reacted to her writing. I think these books are partly from.various sources and partly fiction. They didnt even go to the trouble of finding someone from that part of the world to narrate. I dont think the American voice over added any authenticity to the books. Not to criticise her, I blame the casting for that. The whole thing is more like historical fiction and just does not ring true. I'm returning these books, disappointed but the writer had a clever idea and capitalised on it.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Joanne
  • 09-14-19

Engrossing

An engrossing book about the day to day lives of women who have all the money in the world but none of the human rights, though the eyes of a woman who witnessed and resisted the cruelty of Saudi society. A fascinating biography.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Arnold Seivwright
  • 09-30-19

eye opening

and soul destroying, in a way, her spirit and will leave me with an awe I cant describe, this book is well worth a listen, but prepare your mind.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kimberley Ann Fletcher
  • 07-24-22

Tragic, fascinating and awe inspiring

Princess is Sultana’s heart-warming and tear-inducing account of womanhood for the privileged echelons of Saudi Arabia. Her unquenchable spiritedness are intoxicating and addictive - the horrors of what she has witnessed women endure is tempered by the magic of the wonderful women in her life and tales of their mischief.

Sultana’s revealing and empathetic narrative shows bravery and resilience to be admired.

This window into depth of the plight facing eastern women is tragic but inspiring - no longer can we in the west be blind to the thirst for freedom of these women, and no longer can we be blind to the selfishness, ignorance and outright cruelty of men free to preside over a subservient gender.

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  • Debeedeb
  • 06-20-22

Incredible story

A front row view into female lives in Saudi Arabia. Eye opening, shocking treatment of girls and women, sold as brides from as young as 12. FGM, and other practices. Great narrator. Would highly recommend.

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  • Tina Vincent
  • 06-03-22

Enlightening snd fascinating.

Time has passed since this book opened and we can only hope that the position of women in Saudi continùes to improve. As recently as May 2022 over 400 'people' were stoned to death for 'fornication' while men continue to marry multiple wives. Hiw manuy of thise were men?

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  • Caramia
  • 01-28-22

Kept my interest despite Zombie-style narration.

The story, itself, was engaging enough and kept my interest during many hours of boring housework, which is when I tend to listen to Audibles. The principal character, Princess Sultana, did eventually begin to pall on me after reptitive paens of self-praise. To use the mot-de-jour, narcisstic. Despite her laudable attempts to sound sympathetic and awake to the plight of those lesser beings, the maids and servants, in Saudi, it didn't ring entirely true. It is easy to avow sympathy when ensconced in a palace or exotic villa somewhere being waited on hand and foot by the same lesser beings. Theirs, poor things, was a different world. Certainly, Saudi women, especially those on the lowest rungs, have suffered and continue to suffer dreadful crimes against their human rights. Sultana's birthright and wealth, however, certainly cushioned her to a large degree. To be fair, she is not unobjective there, but I found it interesting that when her "Kuwaiti sisters" began to claim some rights for themselves, Sultana, and her coterie, exerienced extremely mixed feelings. Jubilant one the one hand and resentful on the other. Despite her many attempts to roudly show off her rebellious nature, I was left with the impression that here was a very spoiled woman, who, whenever she failed to get her own way, resorted to childish tricks and tantrums, as well as outright violence. I was left thinking that I didn't really didn't like her very much.

The narrator: Think flat-line on a heart monitor. Life extinct. An annoying verbal tick of pronouncing "our" as "owurr". That really began to grate on my poor already bleeding ears.

Warning: To anyone of a sensitive nature, there are a number of graphic descriptions of sexual violence, violence and child-rape, so probably best to avoid the book or skip over those (many) passages.

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  • Luna43
  • 01-25-22

princess

fascinating story of lives from another part of the world. No matter how much money you have if you don't have rights and freedom it means very little. Good to have a glimpse from another culture

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-10-18

The story of a cultural hierarchy that retards and shackles half of its own people

Very interesting insight into the war against women in Saudi Arabia. The book illustrates a pervading culture of disrespect. An open disrespect of men for women, an undercurrent of disrespect of women for men, a universal disrespect for foreign workers and non-muslims.
While the story was both fascinating and depressing, I had to overcome the irritation of the ‘twangy’ narration style.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-18-18

fascinating but bad narration

the story is fascinating and well written however the narration is monotone and lacking emotion.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Carol Welsh
  • 01-27-22

Fascinating

Money isnt everything .. there has to be freedom, equality and respect. This book basically tells us that many men of Islamic Saudi choose to interpret the Koran to suit themselves at expense of their women. It's interesring ... often shocking and always sad. But changes have been happening since this was written..... slowly.

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  • Miss M S Robertson
  • 05-18-19

Great book, narration awful

The narration of this book was bland, monotonous and almost autonomous. Just awful! A shame, given how impactful the story is. As the sequels are narrated by the same woman I will not be purchasing those, regardless that I am very curious to continue the story.

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  • Dawn
  • 02-17-19

Sunrise

What a incredible story and what a strong and brave woman. Beautifully narrated, very engaging.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-04-18

Great story.

I loved this book. I had no idea of the hardships Saudi women endure. Very sad.

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  • zico
  • 10-12-17

Harsh Reality of a Womens life in Saudi

Interesting read. Left hanging at the end somewhat. Story tempered somewhat by the fact that princess Sultana has access to incredible wealth however brings meaning to the concept that money cant buy happiness

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  • Josephine
  • 10-23-16

Powerful!!

This is one of the most powerful, fascinating and beautifully written books I have ever read/listened to in my life. This book gives you a personal and in depth insight into the world of a Saudi Arabian princess, & also a look into a world that is completely dominated by men and religion. The story is touching and complex a very interesting read from start to finish.

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  • Shannon
  • 12-19-14

Heart wrenching true story

I read this book 10 years ago and it was such an eye opener to the ways of another country. This book was so good I wanted to listen to it as well. As an Australian this book and many others have opened my eyes to how females are treated in countries where Muslim is their dominate religion. It's a must read for everyone!