Wednesday 29 May 2019

Alsanea, Rajaa "Girls of Riyadh"

Alsanea, Rajaa "Girls of Riyadh" (Arabic: بنات الرياض‎ Banāt al-Riyāḍ) - 2005

What a fabulous story about life in a part of the world so unknown to us. The Girls of Riyadh are all friends of the author. Sadim, Kamra, Michelle and Lanis let us take a glimpse into their world.

I have grown up in a Western country. Even though in my times girls didn't have the chances they have now - and I don't want to say they have equal chances, they just have more in modern times - we were never as limited as those girls in the novel. I was allowed to go to public dances as a teenager, I was allowed to go to parties in homes that my parents didn't know. And I don't know anyone who couldn't marry the guy they wanted to marry. Well, I know some cases, where the parents weren't happy with the choice but that doesn't mean they could prevent a marriage.

I myself couldn't imagine marrying someone I don't know, someone I didn't choose myself. It's hard enough as it is, so many divorces tell us that it's not easy to keep up a relationship but just getting hitched to someone your parents chose, just sounds impossible to me. And all the other restrictions, those girls can't decide much about their own life. How sad.

An interesting book.

I quite like the cover of the Arabic edition, little emojis. How cute.

From the back cover:

"When Rajaa Alsanea boldly chose to open up the hidden world of Saudi women - their private lives and their conflicts with the traditions of their culture - he caused a sensation across the Arab world.

Now in English, Alsanea’s tale of the personal struggles of four young upper-class women offers Westerners an unprecedented glimpse into a society often veiled from view. Living in restrictive Riyadh but traveling all over the globe, these modern Saudi women literally and figuratively shed traditional garb as they search for love, fulfillment, and their place somewhere in between Western society and their Islamic home."

We discussed this book in our international online book club in May 2019.


  1. This sounds interesting. Such a different view of things but Western ways must be so tempting.

    1. That's one of the main reasons why I love to read about other cultures, preferably by the people who experience it themselves, like in this case. Enriches my world.