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Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sister Nouf, November 30, 2011
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This review is from: Finding Nouf (Paperback)
"Finding Nouf" is an interesting hybrid: social commentary wound around the frame of a detective story about a wealthy young Saudi teenager who turns up dead in the desert. I'm no connoisseur of detective fiction, but the novel kept me entertained--and in suspense--until pretty close to the end.

What's more interesting is the author's observations of contemporary Saudi society and culture. The brief biography on the back of the book indicates that she lived in Saudi Arabia for more than a decade. What Zoe Ferraris depicts is a society that reveres its desert forebears (just as Americans revere their own pioneer forebears) but has absolutely no desire to return to those beginnings. Indeed, the wealthy, indolent family that she depicts is so far removed from the Bedouin ancestors it claims to admire, so bloated by every form of luxury, from closets full of furs to private islands stocked with jet skis, that it induces a kind of paralysis. The women sit in their secluded living room, waited upon for every need, their topics of conversation confined to children and shopping. The men don't appear to have much to do either.

These are an outsider's observations, of course, although the cloistered lives of Saudi women, including the prohibition against their being permitted to drive, have been well-documented elsewhere. The author may get some of her details wrong, but the overall impression of an insular society whose wealthiest women stuff their closets with expensive clothes they will never wear is quite powerful. It certainly accounts for Nouf, whose desire to get out of her stifling surroundings is naÔve, pitiable, and ultimately fatal.

M. Feldman
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