Title: Driving the Saudis
Author: Jayne Amelia Larson
Publisher: Free Press
Publish Date: October 16, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "Actress, producer, and
occasional chauffeur Jayne Amelia Larson offers a funny and insightful
memoir about the time she spent as a driver for members of the Saudi
royal family visiting Beverly Hills, detailing her invitation inside one
of the world’s most closely guarded monarchies.
When the Saudi
royal family vacationed in Los Angeles, they hired Jayne Amelia Larson,
an actress struggling to make ends meet, to be their personal chauffeur.
She’d heard stories of the Saudis’ outrageously generous gratuities and
figured that several weeks at their beck and call might be worth her
time. But when the family arrived via their private jet with an
entourage of forty and millions of dollars in cash, Jayne Amelia
realized she might be getting into more than she bargained for.
weeks, Larson observed the family’s opulent lifestyle: they occupied
four luxury hotels, enjoyed day in and day out shopping binges, and
servants catered 24/7 to Princess Zaahira and her entourage. From the
thirteen-year-old princess who slapped down $100 dollar bills at a
supermarket and didn’t bother to wait for her change to the nanny who
ran away in the airport the moment she was handed her passport, the
stories Larson shares are bizarre, poignant, and illustrative of the
profound contradictions and complications that only such massive wealth
My Two Cents:
Like a lot of people in
L.A., Jayne wants to become an actress. We all know this isn't easy and
so she is forced to take on another job. She becomes a chauffeur. One
day, she's charged with becoming one of the chaffeurs for the Saudi
royal family when they come to visit. This is a memoir about a single
event in the author's life. It is fascinating from the aspect that the
Saudi royal family is huge and secretive and therefore not a lot of
people do not know a whole lot about the family.
I thought this
book was interesting from the perspective of culture and cultural
relations. The United States relations with Saudi Arabia have been
fraught with both periods of friendship and complications. I enjoyed
reading about the Saudi people. At times, I kind of felt like the
narrator was almost looking down on the Saudis. I think that's an easy
trap to fall into when dealing with a culture that you are not familiar
with, which the author definitely was not familiar with the culture
before this job. Sometimes you have to make an effort to understand
instead of trying to overstand. This just rubbed me the wrong way in
I enjoyed reading about some of the things that the
author had to do in order to make sure that the Saudi royal family was
kept happy and content. One of the things that was most apparent was
that aside from spending loads and loads of money, a lot of the members
of the royal family seemed just like people that you may come across in
your life. There were bossy teenagers and teenagers that just wanted to
fit in. There were absent parents and caring parents. When you look it
it that way, we are all way closer to each other than you think.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. Some parts were not my cup of tea but other parts were definitely a little funny.