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One must keep in mind the context of time and place when reading this emotional and exciting book to alleviate some of the horror of the injustices endured by the women described here. Equality of men and women has not worked out in any society, but the status of women in Islam is more problematic in that canon law is applied according to the social climate. Consequently, countries influenced by the West, such as Egypt, are more relaxed than countries like Saudi Arabia that are ruled by strict Hanbali law, which subjects women to unwelcome marriages, execution at whim, and the boredom of purdah . In this book, Sasson ( The Rape of Kuwait , Knightsbridge Pub. Co., 1991) tells the fascinating story of ``Sultana,'' an unidentified Saudi princess who yearns for recognition in her own right, not as an adjunct of men. For those who wish to know more, Soraya Altorki's Women in Saudi Arabia ( LJ 1/86) and Paryeen Shaukat Ali's Status of Women in the Muslim World (Aziz Pub., 1975. o.p.) are good. Recommended for popular collections. (Illustrations not seen.) Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/92.-- Louise Leonard, Univ. of Florida Libs., Gainesville

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. )

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