I noticed that Life of a Doctor's Wife gave a good rating to Inside the Kingdom: My Life in Saudi Arabia by Carmen Bin Ladin on Goodreads and was immediately intrigued. Carmen Bin Ladin is the ex wife of Yeslam Bin Ladin, one of the many siblings of Osama Bin Laden (and yes, the spellings are different). While her interactions with Osama were few during the time she spent in Saudi Arabia, the few she did have were chilling and depicts a man so devout in his religious beliefs that he is blinded to the world he is living in.
While the intrigue of the book definitely comes because of her former relation to Osama, the book isn't really about him at all. Instead, it tells the story of her life growing up in Switzerland, marrying Yeslam, and moving to the United States for school. It wasn't until many years later that Yeslam decided it was time to move the family back to Saudi Arabia where he would take his place managing the Bin Laden construction company, a very powerful and influential corporation in Saudi Arabia.
The story Carmen tells about her Saudi life is fascinating and sometimes disturbing. She was never allowed to leave her home without her traditional veil, she could not speak to any men except her husband in public, and she was not allowed to leave the country without her husband's permission. The book is unique since Carmen was not born into the prohibitive society, thus her transition into this hidden world is both tortured and difficult. In many ways Carmen was lucky because her husband was much more Western then most of the men in Saudi Arabia. Yet over time her husband becomes more detached. It wasn't until her three daughters started to grow up that she realized she could not subject her girls to the life they would have in Saudi Arabia. At the end of the book she discusses the difficulty of divorcing Yeslam and how she got her family out of the country.
The book is a fast read with short chapters. It was interesting, and I definitely enjoyed reading it. Its not an epic page turner but its not a bore either.
Next up is The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran.
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