Saturday, June 05, 2010

Book Review > Florence of Arabia by Christopher Buckley

The heroine, athletic, motor cycle riding, Florence Farfaletti (does her name remind you of a pasta) -- once married to a minor Arabian prince -- joins the U.S. Foreign Service & becomes embroiled in a 'sensitive' event wherein Nazrah, one the Wasabian Ambassador's wives, tries to escape her marriage by asking for political asylum.

Unfortunately, it doesn't end well for Nazrah, who is eventually returned to her country where she is beheaded.

This event 'radicalizes' Florence into becoming a CIA dupe (maybe), tasked with 'charming' the ultra conservative paternalistic culture of the Royal Kingdom of Wasabia into a more modern society based on her operational proposal titled "Female Emancipation as a Mean of Achieving Long-term Political Stability in the Near East". 

Instead she turns the kingdom on its political head, revealing -- at once -- the ridiculous anachronistic culture of Wasabia, the self-serving, backstabbing nature of our intergovernmental agencies as well as the resulting foreign policies & the interests of big money that overrides all of it. 

Even though Buckley deals with very real & extremely important issues, he does it in an entertaining fashion using Florence as his foil..... Or should I say rapier. It's a fast, sometimes humorous, but 'telling' read. You only wish a real person could pull this off one day & make right what's wrong in so much of that part of the world.