Saturday, January 16, 2010

Small Kingdoms

Summary (borrowed from Goodreads)

Set in Kuwait during the ominous
years between the two Gulf Wars,
Small Kingdoms traces the intersecting
lives of five people—rich and poor,
native and foreigner, Muslim, Christian,
and non-believer—when they discover
that a teenaged Indian housemaid is
being brutally abused by her employer.

Tensions are high. Just miles away in
Iraq, Saddam Hussein is threatening a
second invasion of this tiny desert
kingdom, which he destroyed six years
before, in 1990. Even without a war on
the horizon, rescuing a maid employed
in a private home is a sticky matter in
this rigid, class-conscious society, where
the rich protect their own; and any intervention
involves great personal risk.

Emmanuella, an impoverished cook
from India, risks losing her job and thus
her ability to support her family back
home. Kit, the young wife of an American
businessman in the Gulf, could face
grave damage to her marriage. Mufeeda,
an upper-class Kuwaiti woman, must
buck the powerful status quo of her
family and her class, as well as her own

And there’s Hanaan, a rebellious
young Arab woman who may have as
much to lose as the desperate maid.
Having fallen in love with Theo, an
American doctor working in the country,
she has already faced violent retribution
from her family. How much more violence
lies ahead she doesn’t know. Stubborn,
charismatic, and dismissive of her
society’s strict codes of behavior for
unmarried women, she will step forward
to help the captive maid.

An Upstairs/Downstairs of the Arab
world, Small Kingdoms tells the intimate
story of ordinary people facing an extraordinary
test in the face of another war.

My thoughts

I was really looking forward to reading this book. It seemed like something different than my usual reads. I don't know much about Kuwait or it's people so I was looking forward to learning a little about the culture. The story starts off slowly and there are many characters to keep track of. I tried to connect with the characters but found myself caring less about what happened to them as the story went on. It made it harder to pick the book back up after setting it down. I can't say I hated this book because I did learn some things. If you like political/social fiction you probably will enjoy this book. I think it just wasn't the book for me. I'm curious what others who read it thought of it.

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