Let’s get straight to “The Ten Questions”…
1.How/Why/Where did you buy the book?
The book has been lying in my Flipkart ebook library for a while now. Timeout Dubai dubs this book as the “UAE’s answer to Desperate Housewives”.
I read about it, more than a year ago; at some random Dubai based style and fashion forum (don’t ask me what I was doing there, a week before my exams!).
I then visited the blog (the book was once a blog!) and liked what I saw.
I wanted the book- then and there.
This was more than a year ago. While I was still a MAxFAc resident, living the hard life in a small university town in central Karnataka. I had no access to a decent bookstore, and Messrs Filpkart and Amazon were my knights in shining armour! The only way to instant gratification was purchasing an ebook.
So I did.
And read it that very night.
Fast- forward to 15 months later. I come across a similar book while on a routine (ahem ahem!) visit to Jarir (one of the few places to get books in Qatar). It was called Girls of Riyadh (review coming up next). The book was insanely priced (duh!), so even though the blurb piqued my interest, I let it go.
Two days ago, I bought the ebook on Flipkart at a tenth of the price. (Smug expression. Self-pat on the back.)
After finishing that book, I felt like re- reading this one.
So I did.
Till 4 am. 🙂
2. What is the book about?
About the travails of being a woman, and worse- a woman in love.
Worse still- in love with the wrong man.
About religion and culture dictating lives and choices.
About friendship and the lack there-of in today’s world of deceit and self- preservation.
About women trying to live in an unmistakably man’s world.
Four women- Lady Luxe, Leila, Nadia and Sugar are all fighting their personal battles. With the men in their lives, fate and society. Their backgrounds, lives, circumstances, social standing are all very different. Yet their path collide. In the shiny, crowded, exciting new land- Dubai.
Ameera Al Hakawati is a nom de plume. It keeps us guessing if the author is really a native of the UAE. It keeps thing mysterious, and adds to the charm. I am hoping that Lady Luxe is an exxagerated version of the author herself! 😉
3. First impressions?
I would not call it UAE’s answer to Desperate Housewives. Partly because there is only one “Desperate Housewife” in the book. To me it is more like an Arab/ Dubaized version of Sex and the City. There is a generous peppering of designer name dropping and luxury brand references on almost every page of the book.
The first few pages did not impress. It sounded “wannabe” ish and pretentious. Almost as if the author was trying hard to make her character sound cool and “upmarket”.
Do not be put off by the beginning though. It is not as jejune as you think it might be.
Initially, the four central characters are all very familiar, yet interesting enough to continue reading. If you like Sex and the City, Gossip Girl, Lipstick Jungle and the like, DID is right up your alley.
4. Final evaluation?
A good read. Light- hearted, yet touching upon several social and cultural mores and customs that are very relevant to our times. Dubai is a throbbing, fast- paced, cosmopolitan city with a shiny, rich, sparkling exterior along with a dark underbelly of shattered dreams, lost values and an unquenchable thirst for success and wealth. The book skims over all this, albeit in a superficial, glossy manner.
Dohaites will also be able to relate, as Doha seems to be heading the Dubai way.
The language is easy and conversational. Considering it started off as a blog, the book tries to remain true to its “bloggy” roots.
5. How long did it take to finish?
A couple of hours.
I mean, it is what it is.
A light, kill-time-on- a-plane-ride sort of book. It does not claim to be a literary marvel or a fanciful, thought-provoking tale.
I wish Lady Luxe had a better ending though. At the end, I almost felt like the author was hastliy trying to “finish-up” the story. Just my feeling….
7. Who would you recommend the book to?
If have have every lived in the middle- east you may be able to associate with the characters and the book.
If you ever wondered about the uber- rich lifestyles of the Emiratis, Qataris, Kuwaitis etc., this may interest you.
If you are a Westerner curious about the mysterious, hijabied/ abaya- clad women- the book will tell you that basically women are the same everywhere, with the same problems and issues. And the same love for designers, shoes, bags, cars, shopping and everything luxe!
8. Would you read it again?’
Urmmm…Have read it twice in the span of a year. So, maybe not.
9. Do you regret purchasing it?
10. Favourite part/ quote from the book?
These few paragraphs encompass all the vastly contradictory tones of the book. Islamic traditions, middle- eastern mores, western education, disproportionate wealth….
An abaya clad woman in a little black dress- DID in a nutshell!
(P.S. The traditionalists will scoff at the book and find it insulting and derogatory….;-). And it is by no means entirely reflective of life in Dubai, UAE or the middle- east. But there is a generous dose of reality in it. Okay. I shall halt my confused, pointless ramble here)
Till the next book…
Coming up next- Girls of Riyadh!