On September 11, 2001, Carmen bin Ladin heard the news that the Twin Towers had been struck. She instinctively knew that her brother-in-law was involved in these horrifying acts of terrorism, and her heart went out to America. She also knew that her life and the lives of her daughters would never be the same again.
In 1974, Carmen, half-Swiss and half-Persian, married into the bin Ladin family. She was young and in love, an independent European woman about to join a complex clan and a culture she neither knew nor understood. In Saudi Arabia, she was forbidden to leave her home without the head-to-toe black abaya that completely covered her. Her face could never be seen by a man outside the family. And according to Saudi law, her husband could divorce her at will, without any kind of court procedure, and take her children away from her forever.
Carmen was an outsider among the bin Ladin wives, their closets full of haute couture dresses, their rights so restricted that they could not go outside their homes, not even to cross the street, without a chaperone. The author takes us inside the hearts and minds of these women, always at the mercy of the husbands who totally control their lives, and always convinced that their religion and culture are superior to any other. And as Carmen tells of her struggle to save her marriage and raise her daughters to be freethinking young women, she describes this family's ties to the Saudi royal family and introduces us to the ever loyal bin Ladin brothers, including one particular brother-in-law she was to encounter: Osama.
In 1988, in Switzerland, Carmen bin Ladin separated from her husband and began one of her toughest battles: to gain the custody of her three daughters. Now, with her candid memoir, she dares to pull off the veils that conceal one of the most powerful, secretive, and repressive countries in the world, and the bin Ladin family's role within it.
"The gravity of the events Carmen writes of, her insider's perspective, and her engaging style make this memoir a page-turner." (Publishers Weekly)
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An inside view of the Saudi women's life
Self-absorbed and tedious