Shop now Shop now Shop now See more Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 3 January 2001
This is the true account of a middle-class Western lady's extraordinary encounters with a UAE family. Patricia Holten is an American, married to a Cornish businessman. Her story starts in the early days of oil, when a Sheikh sends his two sons to England for their education, and she acts as their carer. The result is that Holton is given an unexpected opening into the private world of the Sheikh's family, back home in Abu Dhabi. Through many visits over many years, she builds a lasting relationship with the Sheikhs family, but what makes this account so unique is that much of what she learnt and observed came from the time she spent with the women.
Holten spent extensive periods living alongside the Sheikha and her extended family. She was with them at their home in Al Ain, in their desert camps, and latterly in their Abu Dhabi palaces. The care and sympathy with she recounts her experiences gives the reader a superb insight into a recent history which is, to many of us living here, little known and little understood. And while many of the old ways have died with the arrival of oil, it was suprising how often Holton's account shed light on some aspect of modern life which I had not fully understood.
This is a gentle book, with colourful and detailed descriptions of every day life. Having said that, the characters (slightly modified to protect their identity) do come alive, and the impact of the UAE's dramatic modernisation on their lives makes for a story-line which I found gripping.
Most impressive to me however, is the depth of learning that Holton's book offers. As someone who lives in the UAE I feel deeply interested in the lives of the veiled women I see around me: in the shops, emerging from gated homes, even at work; but so often the cultural norms prevent any meaningful friendship developing, and I am left wondering about their histories, their families, their beliefs and their traditions. This book has, more than anything else, offered me invaluable context for the way of living I see around me. Maybe I particularly enjoyed Holton's account because I am living here in the UAE. But in any case, anyone with an interest in the region, or in Arab cluture, or in the impact of oil in the modern world, will certainly learn a huge amount from this wondeful book.
0Comment| 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 30 March 2005
I picked this book up in a supermarket in Abu Dhabi and found it impossible to put down once I started reading it. As a westerner living in the Middle East, I have been intrigued by the customs of the area and this book really helped to explain a great deal about many facets of family life here. I have visited Abu Dhabi twice and this book tells of life from the beginning of the oil rush onwards. If you are interested in social history, you will love this book. The insights into bedouin life and the role of women are excellent. This way of life is slowly disappearing. Thank goodness the author recorded her experiences for us all to share. One of the best books I've read in ages.
0Comment| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 5 April 2016
One of then worst books I have ever read! Utterly fake and ingenuine account.
This woman knew this book was going to be read by her so called other 'family' and all the sucking up and a?! Kissing proves just that. I have no words. Don't waste your time and money on this garbage. The writing style is atrocious. So long winded, far fetched and completely fake. Can see right through you.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 17 October 2008
I first learnt of this book whilst reading Patricia Scanlan's "City Woman". I certainly wouldn't consider myself a feminist, but have always been interested in women's lives in other cultures. I really enjoyed it. It was a bit of departure from the type of books I'd normally read, as you will see if you look at my other reviews! However, it was such a lovely book. The pace of it is quite slow & as much as I enjoyed reading it, I wasn't in any hurray to rush through it. I was pulled completely into the book & as a result, have an admiration for these women who still wear the mask. It is definitely a book worth reading.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 17 January 2013
Gives an insight to the Middle East that is so interesting as it takes the reader to a family's way of life there around the time of the initial oil exploration and the exodus from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi and it's written from the perspective of a British woman, hence the title.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 30 May 2003
I am afraid to say I did not end up finishing this book - it was just too samey all the way through. It was a day to day account of her life with the Arab family and there generally just wasn't really anything stimulating enough to hold one's interest, apart from an Arab wedding. I suppose if you have never read anything about this culture before you might find it mildly interesting.
0Comment| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 24 May 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Tells the story of an english woman being integrated into an arab family overe a period of years. Although not as relevant today as the UAE is very different to how is wa when this book was written. It is still interesting and gives an insight into the families behind the veils.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 20 March 2014
I originally read this in 2001 and gave it just two stars. I found it boring, and only the details of the wedding really interested me. I recently re-read it, reluctantly, for a book group, and I was surprised to discover a fascinating account of a bye-gone era.

Patricia Holton's husband had business with the United Arab Emirates in the 1970s. As a result of this, Patricia agrees to host the two younger sons of an Emirati Sheikh, while they do their university courses in the UK. She helps them to acclimatise to life in England and is curious about the country they have left. Over many breakfasts and suppers, they teach each other and compare cultural differences.

Eventually Patricia, now known as Mrs Tea Cup by the boys, is invited to Al Ain, an oasis area of Abu Dhabi, as guest to the family. She begins her visits in a hotel, but as they all get to know each other better, she is invited to their homes, and finally absorbed into the family, particularly by the women.

The book provides a wonderful cultural window into a time that is now largely passed. These women were the last of a generation that has since been swamped by oil wealth and tourism. Ms Holton is sad to see this era pass, but rather repetitive with her comments to this effect. However, her observations of family life do provide a rare insight into the traditions of the modern day Emiratis.

I originally came to the Emirates in 1984 and I remember the old Buraimi part of Al Ain; now fenced off from the Emirates as it is actually part of Oman. Old houses can still be found from this time and it is fascinating to imagine how the much simpler life of these people went on in those, now crumbling, houses.

Apart from the frequent comments bemoaning the end of an era, my other criticism would be a feeling that this is a slightly sanitised version. I sense that the author is being very respectful to her hosts and only writing what they wish her to.
Strangely, while many of the women are named, I can't think of a time when the two boys or their father, are actually called by their names, they are always known as The Second Son, The Youngest Son and The Sheikh.

This is well worth reading if you are living in the UAE and has also been enjoyed by several of our visitors to the area.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 May 2010
Well written, easy to read account of one woman's involvement with the family of a sheikh in Al Ain, part of the United Arab Emirates from a time (non-specific) just before economic development took hold up to the present day. Very helpful text regarding the life of muslim women in the UAE. It helped me to understand some of the traditions that exist, particularly with regard to women, prior to visiting the country for my son's wedding.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 12 January 2016
Fascinating story, symapthetically told and a wonderful record of a very recent past
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)