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Publisher's Summary

The decisions that change your life are often the most impulsive ones. Unexpectedly denied a visa to remain in the United States, Qanta Ahmed, a young British Muslim doctor, becomes an outcast in motion. On a whim, she accepts an exciting position in Saudi Arabia. This is not just a new job; this is a chance at adventure in an exotic land she thinks she understands, a place she hopes she will belong. What she discovers is vastly different.
The Kingdom is a world apart, a land of unparalleled contrast. She finds rejection and scorn in the places she believed would most embrace her, but also humor, honesty, loyalty, and love. And for Qanta, more than anything, it is a land of opportunity. It is a place where she discovers what it takes for one woman to recreate herself in the land of invisible women.
©2008 Qanta Ahmed (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Claire on 04-21-13

Could have been so much more

The writing ranges from indifferent to awkward, but that is not the only reason I rate this books as merely "ok". It had the potential to be so much more than it is.

Dr. Qanta A. Ahmed is capable of close observation--no critical care physician can lack this ability--and some of her descriptions are very closely observed, indeed. It is a shame that these are mostly limited to the physical appearance of the people she meets and of their clothing, homes and cars.

Yet we cannot call Ahmed shallow because the religious experience she underwent in the Kingdom was clearly deeply felt. I am disappointed that she did not spend more time exploring it and less time looking for well-worn metaphors to describe it.

The main problem with In the Land of Invisible Women, in my opinion, is that it never quite seems to decide what kind of book it is. Is it the description of the author's religious itinerary? Then why leave that almost exclusively to the section on her Haj (pilgrimage to Mecca)? Is it the story of a Western-trained double-boarded physician who happens to be a woman practicing in the very different and restrictive conditions experienced by female physicians in the Kingdom? Then tell us more about that.

Is this a book about Saudi culture? Then spend less time on describing cars, jewelry and clothing and more time on behavior, attitudes, laws and social expectations. Is it a book about the history of Wahabi extremism in Saudia? Then write it as a history and don't try to squeeze it in as background in artificial-sounding conversations.

The main problem I found with this book is its lack of focus. There is so much potential here for a riveting memoir or a fascinating analysis. Ahmed sold herself short by taking the easy way out.

This book will be particularly interesting to people with little or no knowledge of Islam, people who don't know many Muslims. Think of it as a long, chatty letter from the friend of a friend and you won't be as disappointed as I was.

Not a bad book, just not as good as it might have been.

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Kimmarie on 05-17-12

Women under war

As our newspapers and news inform us there is a war on women in America. While they gloss over the fact the countries such a Saudi Arabia & Pakistan kill their women for being whores.

Enjoyed the book, enjoyed the voice of the narrarator. The thing of it is....

Where are all of the books written by women or for women who were not so lucky?

We can all grab bios on Tina Fey or Suzanne Sommers.

What about Wafta Sultan, Souad and Rana Husseini? What about some audiobooks from women in Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Pakistan?

Just Saying.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Eliza Conquest on 01-21-15

Excellent account of life in Riyadh

If you could sum up In the Land of Invisible Women in three words, what would they be?

Interesting; accurate; observant

Who was your favorite character and why?

This is a memoir, so no favourite character.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Events when she went on the Hajj pilgrimage. However, scenes that I found most interesting were the Saudi reactions to 9/11.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Sometimes amusing, sometimes made me angry.

The narrator mispronounced the word "thobe" incorrectly throughout the book by sounding the "e" at the end. The "e" is silent, as in "robe".

Any additional comments?

I have lived in Saudi Arabia for 30 years so was very interested in reading this memoir. Although the author occasionally got carried away with her descriptions, overall I think she conjured up the atmosphere of Saudi Arabia extremely well. Her understanding of Saudis, both men & women, was very sympathetic. From everything that we have learnt about them in our years here, she came up with very similar conclusions in a very short space of time. She was observant of everything going on around her and swung from being impressed to dismayed at various things that happened - for instance, extreme prejudice coming from men & women who until that point had seemed highly educated and intellectual; parents wishing to install hatred & prejudice in their children for Jews; on the other hand, the great warmth and hospitality that Saudis extended to her. The reaction of Saudis to the events of 9/11 were shocking, and then a few years later they too were on the receiving end of Al Qaeda bombing. Her understanding of the Wahabi version of Islam in Saudi Arabia was also very accurate and she became quite disillusioned seeing how this religion is frequently distorted here. I would recommend this audiobook - or book - to anyone who is interested in learning about Saudi Arabia, especially if they are considering coming to work here in the medical field.At the end of the audio book, there is an interesting interview with the author about her subsequent experiences in Saudi Arabia and observations about the progress of women in the Kingdom.

The narrator mispronounced the word "thobe" incorrectly throughout the book by sounding the "e" at the end. The "e" is silent, as in "robe".

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By S on 12-14-14

Interesting but a bit too long

If you could sum up In the Land of Invisible Women in three words, what would they be?

Interesting, shocking, long

What did you like best about this story?

I've read numerous books about women living in Saudi but the majority had been about women who had been born in the country, for whom the customs were something they had grown up with. I chose this book because it wanted to see if the story would be different coming from a woman who had been born outside of the kingdom, one who was educated and working in what some may have considered a male job.

Have you listened to any of Nicola Barber’s other performances? How does this one compare?

This is the first performance I've heard, but its been very enjoyable.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

At the start I enjoyed listening to this book and would have happily considered listening to it in one sitting. However, as the book progressed I found some parts continued for much longer than what I would have liked and had it been a print book I would have probably skipped a few pages to get back into the more gripping stuff.

Any additional comments?

It was interesting to hear the story of a woman who despite being a muslim, she had never really practiced her religion and had lived in the relative freedom of the USA for many years having to deal with the cultural differences she came across when working in Saudi. Overall it was a very interesting book. My only criticism is there were sections of the book which I felt went on a bit too long and at times I lost track of what was going on. Had it been a print book I would have probably skipped a few pages. At the same time I felt the conclusion was quite quick compared to the rest of the book. Maybe this was because I dipped in and out of the book several times rather than listened to it in long sessions.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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