This story of four women living in an unnamed Middle East country is strangely dry and unemotional -- perhaps due to its translation. But even the best translation couldn't render these hyper-emotional, illogical, and ultimately self-centered women sympathetic to the Western reader.
The very talented woman writer of the Arab world gives the reader an "inside look" at what life is like or contemporary Arab women living in the Middle East. In this book, she tells the story of four women, living in an unnamed desert state that denies women their humanity. I had mixed emotions about this book, simultaneously pitying these "birds in a golden cage" and feeling exasperation at them for not rebelling more forcefully at the way society withholds freedom from them. And I appreciated the way al-Shaykh writes without polemic about religion, sex, marriage, and housekeeping in that still-closed society.