A jaw-dropping story of how a girl from the suburbs ends up in a prince's harem, and emerges from the secret Xanadu both richer and wiser.
At 18, Jillian Lauren was an NYU theater school dropout with a tip about an upcoming audition. The "casting director" told her that a rich businessman in Singapore would pay pretty American girls $20,000 if they stayed for two weeks to spice up his parties.
Soon, Jillian was on a plane to Borneo, where she would spend the next 18 months in the harem of Prince Jefri Bolkiah, youngest brother of the Sultan of Brunei, leaving behind her gritty East Village apartment for a palace with rugs laced with gold and trading her band of artist friends for a coterie of backstabbing beauties.
More than just a sexy read set in an exotic land, Some Girls is also the story of how a rebellious teen found herself - and the courage to meet her birth mother and eventually adopt a baby boy.
Click here to listen to expert sex writer and podcaster Susie Bright’s interview with Jillian Lauren.
©2010 Jillian Lauren (P)2010 Tantor
"Lauren... is a deft storyteller, imparting equal parts poignant reflection and wisdom into her enlightening book. A gritty, melancholy memoir leavened by the author's amiable, engrossing narrative tenor." (Kirkus Reviews)
"While the surprising and exotic subject matter is sure to pique interest, Lauren’s graceful, introspective prose lifts her unusual memoir far above the level of mere titillation." (Booklist)
Intriguing story, well told. My favorite kind of book is nonfiction that reads like a novel, and this fits that bill beautifully. I compare Jillian Lauren's memoir to Elizabeth Gilbert's because in both cases there is a lot of introspection and what you might call excessive navel-gazing (to some extent this is what good memoirs are supposed to do). Both are about gutsy, adventurous women, and both women are exceptionally good writers. Personally, I can relate to the Some Girls story of a young woman's foray into the world of high-class sex trade than Gilbert's story of a year of celibate meditation. Kudos to Lauren for her courage. She presents the complexities of her experience both in the sex trade in New York and in a Harem in Brunei in a way that makes the gray areas stand out - the temptation for many people would be to either glamorize this experience or render it all 100% evil.
Some people earn the right to write about something just because they were there, where the action took place. Imagine a book from a Chilean miner who was trapped in the mine pit. I would buy it.
But it takes at least some talent and honesty in order to tell a good story, even if you are a first hand witness. Lauren has neither.
First of all, maybe 30% of the book is about the "harem". The rest is about a vain, self-absorbed, pretentious girl trying to convince us that she is great because of her inner qualities (not true), and not because she is pretty and guys want to have sex with her (true).
We don't need a spoilers alert, because nothing happens. The Prince has a compound with a mansion and several cottages (small houses) around a swimming pool. He uses an agent who enrolls prostitutes to live there for some months at a time and leave with a lot of money. The only thing they do is to have a sort of karaoke party every night at the mansion. The Prince comes and stays for half an hour, picks up a girl and leaves. That's all. Day after day is the same routine. They never leave the compound, they never get to know the country, they practically don't talk to the prince. If you are expecting adventure, romance, exotism, you won't find it in this book. There is more action in the bar in the corner of your street than in this so-called harem.
Lauren is so insignificant to the Prince that the only time she leaves the compound to see him at his office, they leave her waiting for four hours locked in an office without a bathroom, waiting for his arrival. When she is taken to see the Sultan (the Prince's brother) he doesn't even care to sleep with her, only asking for oral sex. His dogs probably get more consideration. All the while, Lauren thinks she is special and romanticizes the whole sordid thing. When Penthouse playmates arrive at the compound, she tries to convince us that she is so much better than they are. (why?)
Skip this one.
The sample and title of this book lead the reader to foreign lands and cultures; however, I came away disappointed. This book is mostly the thought processes of the author explaining away her idiosyncrasies and letting the reader know why she is so very special. Very slow and tedious.
The idea sounded interesting but the execution was dull. The story wandered and I am still waiting to figure out what the point of the book was.
I swear my friend Crazy Jennie told me this exact same story about being solicited to go to a harem in the Middle East and all about white slavery when we were in college in 1990 - so many of her details sound like Jillian's details and it makes me wonder how much of the book was fictionalized.
The voice actresses performance was great!
I'd like to see something that was a little less fictional.
First, I really wish the author would have read the story herself. The narrator's voice didn't seem to match the main character. Frankly, the narrator's annunciation drove me nuts. It was way too precise and took me away from the story at times. I heard the author speak on a podcast and she seemed much more down to earth and had a sense of humor.
Most people picking up this book probably want to hear all about the harem, as did I. But it would have been nice to hear more about WHY the author got into sex work. She glosses over details that would have helped readers understand and empathize with the path she chose. Would have made for a much more engaging story.
But overall, the story was good and at times, exciting. Good summer read.
I am married to the wonderful and amazing woman pictured here. I listen to books to make me a better husband, father and person.
The author did an excellent job of telling what could have been a "fifty shades" tell-all in a way that is instructive and informative. Well done!
I'm a person who avoids non fiction and especially any type of biography, but I was curious about the subject matter. Wow, I'm so glad I read this! She is definitely an exceptional story teller and the narrator is perfect. For those squeamish about the subject, sex is dealt with in a very matter-of-fact way as part of the story. There were no "hot" scenes, though I wouldn't have minded, especially in the scenes with the prince! The story flows and changes regularly, with her developing insights into her confused self leading the way without ever approaching overbearance...just enough to let you feel the emotional turmoil going on in her young (18-20) head as she makes so many unusual choices.
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