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The Burning Veil Paperback – 30 May 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 362 pages
  • Publisher: Mishmish Press (30 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982507402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982507407
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.1 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,825,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jean Grant was born in Montreal, Canada, and lived in the Middle East for 20 years. She was a staff reporter for Arab News in Saudi Arabia. She has traveled to more than 60 countries and now divides her time between Lawrence, Kansas, and the southwest of France.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 18 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
When Sarah Moss, a physician in Madison, Wisconsin, falls in love with a fellow student, Ibrahim Suleiman of Khobar, Saudi Arabia, she is unable to persuade him to stay in the US. Instead, he persuades her to go to Saudi Arabia, where she obtains a job at the Suleiman Hospital in to see if she can adjust to Saudi life. What follows is a comprehensive exploration of Saudi families and Saudi society, especially the society of women and their roles in the larger Saudi world, and as Sarah learns more about the world of Saudi women, she must decide whether she can live among them forever as Ib's wife.

American author Jean Grant, who lived in Saudi Arabia for nine years, shows particularly sensitive insights into both the American and Saudi cultures, dealing with the big issues of women as "second class citizens," the strict rules for "modesty" in clothing, the complications created when women must get permission from a man in the family even to obtain emergency medical treatment, the growing Islamist fundamentalism, and the brutal ad hoc punishments the mutawwa'in (religious police) mete out with impunity (fearing no reprisal from secular police). But she also shows the ways in which American women either make compromises in their own lives, or, in other cases, refuse to make compromises which would make everyone's life easier. As Sarah tries to get to know Ib's family, she discovers what it will take if she is to experience the kind of freedom she needs within the strict boundaries of the family structure and the Muslim culture.

As the culture is explored, the reader can truly imagine what it would be like to be a woman living in this Saudi family.
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Format: Paperback
The Burning Veil takes place in the late 1990's and spans 9/11/2001 and the paroxysms that started to rock Saudi society after that event. Most westerners don't realize what a wake-up call 9/11 was to the Saudis, who were shocked to find that rigid and violent fanaticism had infiltrated thousands of young Saudi minds. The climax of the book focuses on the author's fictionalized version of a second national tragedy - a 2002 fire in a girls' school. Few western readers will have heard of the actual fire; but it, like 9/11, was a turning point for many in Saudi Arabia. Ever since, the Kingdom has been trying to unravel the spider web of what the Saudi government calls 'deviant' fanatic ideology. But enough of ideology and politics. Grant's gripping story draws you into an intimate Saudi family circle. Her Saudi characters are drawn with respect, and though having a mutawwa (religious policeman) brother-in-law would be any American woman's worst nightmare, Grant makes it work without stereotyping. I recommend this foray inside a Saudi family circle at a difficult time in the Kingdom's modern history.
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Amazon.com: 36 reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Sensitive and Perceptive 3 Jun. 2010
By Fawzi M. Yaqub - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"The Burning Veil" is a contemporary love story between two people with conflicting cultures. The two main characters--Dr. Sarah Moss of Wisconsin and Ibrahim Suleiman, an engineering student from Saudi Arabia--meet and fall in love in Wisconsin. They are both easy going and open minded, but each of them has been conditioned by a different culture. Ibrahim feels it would be a betrayal of his country if he decides to live in the US, and Sarah is uncertain how she would fit in a society in which women are kept veiled and restricted by their male relatives. She needs reassurance that her marriage to Ibrahim would not come at the expense of her independence. To ease her concerns, they decide that she should visit Saudi Arabia before making her final decision. With Ibrahim's help, she secures a temporary position in a hospital in Khobar, the city of his birth and where his family lives. As Sarah becomes acquainted with Ibrahim's family, she discovers that her decision has become even more difficult to make. She is delighted with his father and sister, but has difficulty dealing with his fierce mother and his brother Shaheed, a committed Islamist who hates America. Religion, which is intertwined with all aspects of life in Saudi Arabia, becomes another concern for Sarah. Although her parents are devout Christians, she, herself, is an agnostic for whom religion has been irrelevant. As she watches how the lives of Ibrahim's family are affected by Islam, she is both attracted and repelled by that religion.

In a direct and entertaining style, "The Burning Veil" deals with all the concerns and contradictions that Sarah and Ibrahim face. Their frustrations and hopes are presented honestly, in vivid details and with great sensitivity. The novel also deals with the issue of women in Saudi culture, how they are treated now and what hope they have for the future.

Although much has been written about Saudi Arabia since the horrible events of September 11, 2001, contemporary life in that country, and in particular the importance of family ties and the roll of religion, remains somewhat of an enigma to most westerners. Some of the recently published novels by both American and Saudi writers --for example "Finding Nouf" by Zoe Ferraris and "Girls of Riyadh" (In Arabic, "Banat el-Riyadh") written by Rajaa Alsanea and translated into English by the author and Marilyn Booth--help fill this gap. Yet, good as these novels are, their characters are either members of unusual Saudi families or, as one critic puts it, "upper class Saudi girls (who) might wish to escape their luxurious designer cages." In "The Burning Veil," Jean Grant offers us a fascinating glimpse into Saudi society that is both complete and real. The strength of her novel is in the vivid and lively details with which she presents her characters. Her story moves along at a page-turning pace while it deals seriously with complex issues like religion, women rights, and conflicting cultures. Some parts of the book--like her description of the effects of the events of 9/11 and the fire at the girls' school--are very moving and soul wrenching.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
East is East and West is West 20 Jun. 2012
By Jack Kline - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is not a book for men, I thought. So how come I was still reading it? It seemed little more than a well written, literary version of chick-lit. Why couldn't I put it down? Why did I ignore all those other things that I should be doing to keep turning Burning Veil's pages?

Twenty-nine year old Sarah Moss is a successful emergency room doctor. She's independent and cautious of relationships having been dumped when she became pregnant, a pregnancy which ended in her seeking an abortion. Sarah's experiences at the ER and in her life have guided her to a staunch agnostic belief system. Her parents remain at arm's length, as they are Limbaugh listening, 700 Club watching, proselytizing Christians.

Sarah's life changes when she meets a friend of her brother Pete, Ibrahim Suleiman, who has come to Wisconsin on a Fulbright Scholarship. Ib is a wealthy young Saudi hydrologist, whose father owns and runs a hospital in Saudi Arabia.
Predictably they fall in love, and against her parents protestations she decides to take a six-week ER exchange position in Ib's father's hospital. Sarah wants to see if she can live in a Muslim country with radically different customs, one that both elevates women and severely restricts their freedom.

Veil's plot moves along predictably, and also predictably Sarah's ER stint in the Saudi hospital leads up to September 11, 2001. Here's what kept me reading:

Debut author, Jean Grant's story is chock-full of fascinating people, ones with foibles, serious ones. Some are intensely likeable, some aggravating. There's Malika, Ib's mother, a stern matriarch in a patriarchal society; Ib's brother Shaheen, is as unbendingly fundamentalist in his Muslim faith as Sarah's parents are in theirs, cousin Tisam, an unfortunate closet lesbian in a country that stones them to death, and Ib's sister Layla, a warm, loving follower of fashion where fashion for women may not be worn in public.
Author Grant gradually ramps up the cultural chasm between Sarah's upbringing and Ib's. The pressure builds like a really fine horror film, we know the bad stuff lurks just around a corner but which one. Grant allows the tension to ebb and flow until we wonder if things will turn out fine after all.

They don't.

In its way, Burning Veil is a top-shelf thriller. And Grant allows westerners inside access to Saudi-style, middle-eastern Muslim culture, its graces as well as its warts, and she touches on the fundamentalist fringe that brought the world Osama Ben Laden. Good stuff.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
As a non-Saudi married to a Saudi, I can relate to this book 12 May 2011
By TaraUmmOmar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ahhh a book that narrates the intricacies of being a non-Saudi woman in love with a Saudi man in Saudi Arabia...right up my alley! I have been wanting to get my hands on a book that tells the story of how the lives of non-Saudi women in a relationship with a Saudi are fraught with the high drama of leaving our families in our native countries to join new families in Saudi Arabia, the constant dance between two cultures, the struggle to retain our identities in a society that is not very accepting of social differences, grappling with mental stresses that are born out of residing in a country where women are treated like second class citizens, all the while striving to ensure that our marriages weather the storms. I think to myself, who better understands these complexities like my fellow non-Saudi wives of Saudis and can write that book? Could they do that and show that there can be a cloud with a silver lining in such marriages?

Jean Grant is a Canadian-American who lived in Saudi Arabia for nine years. She wasn't married to a Saudi but she personally saw with her own eyes the effects of Saudi/non-Saudi marriages on her compatriots. And she understood it enough to write The Burning Veil, with a desire to concoct a more positive ending for Sarah, the main character of the book. Additionally, her time spent in the Middle East was to Jean's advantage as it provided her the background she needed to write the story line.

I would not hesitate to recommend this book for non-Saudis considering marriage to a Saudi, acquainting themselves with Islam, Saudi culture and society.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Well Worth the Read! 19 Aug. 2010
By Eleanor T. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In addition to a riveting storyline, I was fascinated to read about life in Saudi Arabia - especially for women. It made it all the more meaningful when the author has spent over 20 years in the Middle East.... so she wasn't just making things up. Although life there seems so "foreign" and shocking to someone living in North America, the author was able to instill an understanding of the culture as well as an appreciation of the people and their society. This book demonstrates the meaning of tolerance...
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it to others.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An excellent book 29 Jun. 2011
By Christy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I usually choose speculative fiction to review, so when I glanced through the first pages of this novel out of curiosity and couldn't stop reading, I knew this would be the exception to the rule. The smooth writing style, the well-crafted characters and the fascinating topic grabbed me and I had to read the rest.
This was by way of introduction to a novel which bravely tackles very difficult topics such as religious fanaticism, sexism, terrorism and the strained relations between the East and the West, Islam and Christianity, the Arab and the Western world today. Set in the days leading up to and immediately after the 9/11 tragedy, a very personal story unfolds against that candidly described background, both in the US and in Saudi Arabia, the latter being where most of the story is set.
I must admit that, despite my being hooked from the first pages by both style and story, I found myself sceptical at first - not doubting the realism of the characters or the truth of the events, but doubting that the author would manage to pull this off, to write a novel about such a topic without lapsing into proselytism, preaching and without taking sides on this delicate matter.
Well, my doubts proved unfounded. This author managed to write a heart-breaking story of love and devotion and friendship, of real people in real lives, raised in different cultures and with different beliefs, some of whom made the right choices and some the wrong ones. Yet the story doesn't insult or put down either of the two religions presented, never says or implies that one of them is correct and the other wrong. With infinite care, the author navigates this difficult territory, always making sure that it is the people, not the concepts, that are proven right or wrong; that each religion is interpreted by every person differently and that the choices each individual makes cannot be attributed to the religion but to one's principles and character.
An important point is that Sarah is not shown as the American who went to Saudi Arabia and opened the eyes of the other women/men to the injustices and prejudices. Sarah does become upset, and rightly so, with many aspects of this foreign to her culture, but it is the local women and men themselves who decide to change things, and they do.
Sarah is a dynamic character and has moments of great courage, but she isn't the one to instigate social change, and in this the author avoided a grave pitfall, as far as I am concerned.
The characters in the story are rounded and believable, the language flows effortlessly, and the settings described in perfect detail.
Here let me say that I don't lightly give 5 stars to a novel, but with this one I felt I had no choice. The author fulfilled all my expectations and proved all my doubts wrong. I kept thinking about the story and the people in it long after I turned the last page and I still think about it. I wouldn't change a thing about this story. It's excellent and I highly recommend it.

I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
(for Good Book Alert)
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