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The Burning Veil Paperback – 30 May 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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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: 2,456,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars 39 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, authentic 13 Jun. 2013
By LadyGregory - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this book interesting and entertaining. One critic claimed the descriptions were stereotypes of the entire Middle East, but I disagree. I believe Saudi is in a class by itself; other countries in the area are far more liberal with regard to customs and women's dress. I found the highly detailed background convincing, and it seemed to have been crafted by someone who was completely familiar with day-to-day life. A good read is one thing, but a good read that provides knowledge and insight is even better. I could understand Sarah's conflicted view of her new home and her difficulty adjusting because Saudi Arabia has almost nothing in common with the USA. The fact that Ib acts and dresses "Western" in the USA is proof of that--he has a separate persona for each country. One plot weakness was the religious angle. If someone in Saudi requests a Bible and it's dangerous to bring a Bible into the country, what happened to the Bible Sarah brought from the USA for her friend? That loose end was unresolved, unless I missed something along the way. The Bible side-story was totally tacked on to the plot, and I'm not sure why it was included.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Desert Journey 6 July 2012
By Libro Maven - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Burning Veil is authentic and riveting, a love story that speaks not only to human emotions but also to the meeting of two cultures which so many couples experience when they decide to share their lives. I have always been suspicious of novels set in Saudi Arabia, because writers so often get the place wrong, skating on the the surface of things or worse, creating a world out of headlines and absurd assumptions. Having lived in the country and known my neighbors there as well as I know my neighbors now in California, my memories and personal picture of the land are often violated by authors' inaccuracies and misunderstandings. That is far from the case with Jean Grant. Not only does she get the place right, but she is able to look inside households and relationships so the story goes way beyond describing the crisis of two smart young people in love. The women in the book are strong, or complex and fragile, like women anywhere, far outside the monolithic image of Saudi women as a passive, oppressed gender without a word to say. I don't want to give anything away, but the scene of the indignant women toward the end matches the best scenes in feminist literature. I feel as if I've just returned from a journey in the desert with people I've never met, but who feel familiar to my own experiences.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saudi Family Saga Set in Trying Times 7 Sept. 2010
By Gail Birch - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 Grant'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 story is gripping. It 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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok 27 Sept. 2013
By Lisa Hayden - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There are some very good aspects of the book but it drags on until the last 1/3 when it becomes much more interesting. My biggest complaint is that the protagonists husband is unappealing and boring. It is never believable that she would love him and there is nothing that makes me understand the appeal of her relationship with him. All the other characters are more interesting and better developed. It's odd that the relationship at the center of the story is not credible, interesting or compelling. The protagonist has interesting interactions with all the other characters but not him.
3.0 out of 5 stars a fair portrayal 14 Nov. 2013
By tpaw - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I grew up an ARAMCO brat living in Dhahran and shopping in Al Khobar during the 70s and 80s. So I read a lot of books about the area for nostalgia sake. This book is OK. The writing is pretty basic and certainly not going to win any awards. I think she gives a pretty fair portrayal of the society. Although it pains me to know that after I've left they have gone backwards regarding hair covering and clothes. We never had to cover our hair or faces.

This book is good for someone who is contemplating working in Saudi and understanding the restrictiveness of the culture without damning it.
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