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Florence of Arabia | [Christopher Buckley]

Florence of Arabia

Christopher Buckley's comic thriller takes readers to the Arab land of Matar, where a philandering emir allays his restless wife by allowing her to start a TV network for Arab women. She is joined in this endeavor by a maverick American State Department officer known as Florence, who wants to use the TV network to start a revolution among Islamic women.
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Publisher's Summary

Christopher Buckley's comic thriller takes readers to the Arab land of Matar, where a philandering emir allays his restless wife by allowing her to start a TV network for Arab women. She is joined in this endeavor by a maverick American State Department officer known as Florence, who wants to use the TV network to start a revolution among Islamic women. But before the revolution can occur, Florence must deal with the shady dealings of the royal family of neighboring Wasabia; the CIA; and a very dangerous camel.

With darkly comic insight into the politics of the Middle East, Christopher Buckley takes readers on an adventurous, wickedly funny journey into Arabia.

Don't miss Christopher Buckley, Steve Martin, and other humorists discussing their craft at the New Yorker Festival.

©2004 Christopher Buckley; (P)2004 Books on Tape

What the Critics Say

"Delightfully clever." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (199 )
5 star
 (68)
4 star
 (65)
3 star
 (39)
2 star
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Overall
4.0 (45 )
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3 star
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Story
4.1 (44 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Lisa Petersburg, VA, USA 04-15-06
    Lisa Petersburg, VA, USA 04-15-06 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    44
    ratings
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    58
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    "Buckley is at the top of his game"

    This is Christopher Buckley at his best. This witty, funny and all-too-nearly-true political satire reveals the lies and crimes that are the earmarks of American Middle-East policy. At the same time, we get characters who are funny and sympathetic, realistic and archtypical at the same time.
    The narration is terrific, with different voices, accents and cadences for each character. There is never any doubt who is speaking, and the pace and delivery is first-rate. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys Christopher Buckley or good political satire.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Murphysboro, IL, USA 09-05-05
    William Murphysboro, IL, USA 09-05-05 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    26
    ratings
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    7
    5
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    Overall
    "Ending peters out"

    I really agree with Sandee's review. The book started out great. I was really excited about the writing, the subject and the satire. The situation kept building and I could hardly stop listening. Then, suddenly it was as if the air went out of the balloon. It was as if Buckley had got to a certain point and didn't know how to finish. What a disappointment! As Sandee wrote, it just petered out. Even at that I'll give it a 4 for originality, taking on a difficult subject, and being entertaining for 3/4s of its length.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. S. Cohen New York, NY USA 08-15-05
    M. S. Cohen New York, NY USA 08-15-05 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    164
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    85
    44
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    "Buckley has no endgame"

    This is the third Buckley novel I have listened to. Each one starts off with a great premise and loads of roman a clef characters, countries, etc.

    But this one, like the other two, peters out at the end.

    The author knows how to set up the situation, but once having written himself into a corner, doesn't know how to get out.

    It's as if he suddenly realized that the manuscript is due and so he ends if without any of the cleverness and care taken in the beginning of the book.

    But as pure ear-candy, it's not that bad. And the narrator of this book is quite good.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Marietta, GA, United States 12-09-04
    Barbara Marietta, GA, United States 12-09-04 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    64
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    5
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    Overall
    "A modest effort..."

    Because "Thank You for Smoking" is one of my favorite books, and a true masterpiece of political and social satire, I had high-hopes when I heard that Buckley was going to tackle the supremely sensitive world of Middle Eastern affairs. As a character study, and even as an adventure story, this rates about a B+, but as a comedy it is at best a C-. Occasionally boring, the ultra-clever wordplays (the country names of "Wasabia" and "Mutter" are hilarious) are the best parts of the book. There is a lot of cleverness, but it doesn't add up to consistent entertainment. The reader does a great job, though, handling multiple accents and genders with ease and indentifibility (I just made that word up).

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Taussig Louisiana 08-12-07
    M. Taussig Louisiana 08-12-07 Member Since 2006

    Mary T

    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
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    "Fascinating Novel"

    Buckley tells a story that has humor but also deals with serious topics in the Middle East. Florence is an interesting and inspiring character with great courage and integrity. Also, there are many different twists and turns in the plot which make the book riveting throughout.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charlene Seattle, WA, United States 05-28-07
    Charlene Seattle, WA, United States 05-28-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    131
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    391
    47
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    4
    4
    Overall
    "Amusing listen"

    I really like Christopher Buckley, and while I enjoyed this, I agree with the other reviewers that it is not his strongest work. Like his other works, this one end with an epilogue, while the "ending," per se, actually leaves his characters in the middle of another ordeal. Unlike his other works, I felt that some of the characters and their relationships to each other are a little flimsy. Having said all of that, it is a diverting listen, still very smart and still very funny.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet Rijswijk ZH, Netherlands 08-16-05
    Janet Rijswijk ZH, Netherlands 08-16-05 Member Since 2004

    I listen to books while doing housework. The more interesting the book, the more housework gets done!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    66
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    9
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    2
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    Overall
    "No going back"

    This book comes in two parts, and I listened to the first half. When I dislike a book, I normally try and listen to the first half so that if I ever think I might like to hear how it ended, I can start the second half clean.

    Some weeks have passed, and I think part two will remain unheard. The premise of the story is interesting but there is a delicate balance to achieve and I don't think the author has pulled it off. The result is a book that is uncomfortable.

    The emphasis on Middle Eastern politics is more racist than amusing. Satirising stoning to death and beheading is a difficult thing to do and not something I would attempt lightly. Before the end of the first half the heroine has lost half her support group and we know that she cannot end the problems of the Middle East. Just listen to the news.

    The story cannot go anywhere in view of this. It's really just a question of will she escape. Given the fact he's writing the book in the first place and it is meant to be a comedy, I guess she does. I'm not really interested in how.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Markham, ON, Canada 04-19-11
    Peter Markham, ON, Canada 04-19-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    21
    2
    Overall
    "Worth the wait"

    Slow beginning, I guess because it has to set up the back ground but after that the second half of the book was pretty interesting

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dallas kid Dallas 06-10-09
    Dallas kid Dallas 06-10-09 Listener Since 2009
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "yawn."

    I don't know about the story and plot, but the narration is dreadful. I listen to books when I drive distances to keep myself engaged and awake. This narrator was annoying and nearly put me to sleep. I had to switch to podcasts. Maybe tolerable while cooking? Sorry I went to bother of straightening out Audible account (typically messed up) in order to have this in time for the drive.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon United States 10-19-08
    Sharon United States 10-19-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    116
    15
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    1
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    Overall
    "Outlandish"

    The story was choppy and, in places, depressing. Couldn't decide whether it was fantasy or fiction. Probably fantasy.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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