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In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom Paperback – September 1, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
But: I'm glad I kept reading. The substance of the book is compelling and important, and the author's perspective is sane and intelligent.
If you adjust your expectations of writing as art, you can enjoy and appreciate this book. I only wish it were dystopian fiction and not 21st century reality.
Dr. Ahmed provides an intimate look at life in Saudi Arabia through the eyes of a highly trained female physician. She graciously dealt with the severe restraints upon her personal and professional life there because of her being a woman, and described encouraging views of some significant challenges to them. I was especially touched by her description of the Hajj which had a profound effect on her as it put her in touch with her Muslim roots. Having lived for eight years in Indonesia in the sixties I was particularly impressed with the contrast between these two Muslim countries. During my time in Indonesia women enjoyed a great deal of freedom, and freedom of religion was guaranteed by the constitution.
However, I was distracted by all of the flaws in the book and the author's writing style. For one, the book was WAY too long. It could have been more effective at around 200 pages (instead of 400). The author threw in tons of superfluous writing and felt the need to be overly descriptive, so much that it went on for pages and pages. Furthermore, I feel that Qanta is fairly unlikeable throughout the narrative. She is often nosy and overly judgmental of her Saudi friends. She often wavers on her opinions, sometimes deeply condemning the laws in Saudi Arabia, and other times supporting the laws for keeping her safe and railing against Western courtship ideals. The last thing, which others have pointed out, is that she seemed oddly preoccupied with designer fashion and wealth, which did little to add to the narrative.
Overall, I would recommend this book just for sheer information value. I enjoyed, but despite its relatively many flaws, I can give it only 3 stars.
This was a real joy!
The other major problem I have with the book is that while the author is an intelligent person, she isn't particularly insightful. The concept of a book on Saudi Arabia from the prospective of a Muslim Westerner has promise but this isn't the right author for this vehicle. For one thing, the author comes off as strangely naive. In the beginning of the book she leaves for Saudi Arabia knowing less about the country that I do, and I'm not Muslim. For someone who is so highly educated and apparently has travelled to other Muslim countries before moving to Saudi Arabia, she seems oddly ignorant. At the same time, she also seems oddly sympathetic. She spends surprisingly little time in the book really talking critically about Saudi society. Instead, she spends whole chapters romanticizing the misogyny and poverty that is rampant in the society. Despite the fact that she is a Westerner and has benefited from the many freedoms that we have, she seems strangely sympathetic to the rampant sexism and racism that exists in Saudi culture. She seems to feel that even though she would likely never had had the chance to be a doctor in Saudi Arabia, she somehow lost out on not having lived the repressed life of a Saudi woman. And even more disturbing, she seems to have no real insight into this clear inner conflict which exists within herself.
Personally, this author should stick to what she is good at, science and medicine, and you should hold onto your money and buy a different "Westerner goes to live in Saudi Arabia" book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Learned a great deal. Writing is sometimes tough to get through.Published 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
Great insure into the lives of women in Saudi Arabia. Hope many things have changed since the late 90s. Highly recommend this book.Published 13 days ago by Amazon Customer
Having lived in Saudi Arabia for 8 years, I thought I pretty much knew everything there was to know about the Kingdom. The book was a refresher course and so much more. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Felice Tanenbaum
I really enjoyed this story into a culture and religion I know so little about. I confess I kept thinking the author would tell about her parents, where they are, and how they... Read morePublished 26 days ago by Jill Turner
Very interesting view of life for professional women, Saudi and expats, in the kingdom.Published 1 month ago by Marlene Cushing
Well written expose of issues expirienced by those who are obliged to wear the veil.Published 1 month ago by Judith A. Austin