I try to live by the maxim “It isn’t so much that we are disappointed by people but that we are disappointed by our expectations of people.”   Thus if I set realistic expectations, I will be let down less often.  Easier said than done of course, as with most pithy mottos, but none the less a truism.  “Why,” you ask “am I spouting Zen babble in a book review?”  Is is indeed, dear reader, relevant.  The reads that most disappoint me are the “you gotta read this” or books that I have high expectations for.  I wanted to love the book Driving the Saudis. The subject matter is so timely with the continuing tremors of Arab Spring and the clamoring for women’s rights across the world.  An inside look from a Western woman into the closeted world of the immense wealth, leashed women, and sharia, details on the fight for women’s suffrage and education under one of the world’s worst human rights abusers.  What I got was how much Prada and La Perla the royals bought and what plastic surgery procedures they had done.  Given, I expected the book to be somewhat dishy, the cover photo is palm trees and sexy blue eyes peeking from a veil, but the author is Harvard educated and an independent film maker.  I should have thought TMZ, not NPR.  The people in her memoir could almost be cardboard cutouts, the royals are spoiled snobs and the servants are longsuffering victims.  There were glimpses of real substance there, Larson recounts how a young princess mourned that she would never be able to attend college like her brother but instead she would return to Saudi Arabian to be the third wife of an powerful elderly man or that the American security hired by the Saudis kept the passports of all the help so they could not flee.  The book that I read was passable but the book that I wanted to read would have been fascinating.  Should have remembered the maxim.

Comments closed.