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Driving the Saudis: A Chauffeur's Tale of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness on Rodeo Drive (Anglais) Broché – 22 octobre 2013


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66 internautes sur 66 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Chauffeur Conducts a Crash Course in Culture Clash 16 octobre 2012
Par takingadayoff - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
For seven intense weeks, Jayne Amelia Larson chauffeured members of the Saudi royal family and their entourage around Beverly Hills. Working as an actor and film producer had left Larson in debt and she needed money fast. She started moonlighting as a chauffeur and then the Saudi gig came up, with promises of a big payout. Larson put in many sixteen hour days with few breaks. She was only in it for the money, she kept reminding herself. And that was appropriate, since the Saudis seemed to be even more about money than Americans are.

Larson immediately noticed the pecking order among the servants, in which a nanny outranks a maid, and nearly everyone outranks a driver, especially if she's a woman. Many of the royals barely acknowledged her, while others were polite, but never forgot or let Larson forget, their relative status. Still, it seemed ironic that the Saudi women should see her as an underling - in their own country, they were not allowed to vote, drive, go out without being fully covered or without a male relative as escort. In America, at least they could dress as they liked. The Saudi women spent their days in America shopping and getting plastic surgery.

Driving the Saudis started slow, and I thought it was going to be a name-dropping, brand-name studded tale of the rich and fabulous, but it quickly turned into a more complex narrative. Larson's job interview consisted of little more than determining if she was "a Jew." She was surprised to discover that all the servants had their passports confiscated by their employers, to preclude their leaving, which meant they were effectively slaves. She just kept reminding herself, it's only for seven weeks and I'm only doing it for the money.

Larson connected most with the nannies and servants - when she introduced them to the 99¢ Only Store, they were ecstatic. They enjoyed examining the various items and stocked up on things they thought they could use. Occasionally they misidentified an item, such as when Larson pointed out that the case of Spam they had loaded into their cart was made of pork. "Oh, no! This is forbidden. We must not to enjoy the Spam!"

Larson portrays the Saudi royals as a diverse bunch. Some had been well-educated - she talked philosophy with a young woman who had been going to college at UC Berkeley (Larson had earned two Ivy League degrees) and they were well-traveled. Some were spoiled and shallow, others were polite and diplomatic. The servants were also a mixed bag, some snubbing her, others helping her and showing concern over her apparent lack of a husband.

Larson found that extreme wealth kept pesky rules about speed limits and indentured servitude from affecting the Saudis. At the end of the exhausting assignment, she also discovered that even as an American, she was affected by their medieval beliefs about the status of women. And that she, to her surprise, and like most of us at some time in our lives, was not above trading dignity for the promise of money.
20 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Observations With Empathy 18 octobre 2012
Par Ozmatoo - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
While seeking to offset the financial plight faced by many "starving actors", author and playwright, Jayne Amelia Larson, chose a temporary chauffeuring job that might have buried the average person under the weight of culture shock and sudden demotion to the role of "second class" human being.

In the hands of someone less skilled this tale could have been easily turned into a tabloid style memoir, but instead Larson presents us with a wealth of fascinating anecdotes combined with insightful writing skills.

Clearly, the balance of Jayne Amelia Larson's empathy and intellect over-rides what might have otherwise been a judgmental account, and leaves the reader with a richly layered portrait of a world few of us will ever witness. The end result is a book that's impossible to put down, and an ultimately balanced and satisfying reading experience. --Ozmatoo, (Beverly Hills resident & patron of the .99-cent store)
18 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Learning to take of herself, herself. 30 octobre 2012
Par Amelia Gremelspacher - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Unexpectedly, in catering to the every need of the world's wealthiest family, Jayne Amelia learns to take of herself herself. As a woman, Jayne's chauffeur duties are limited to the women, and to one lone hairdresser. She witnesses a life of untold luxury and at first finds herself striving to be the best driver in a contest that has no winner. Another driver tells her to take care of herself, herself.
Even with this advise, she performs a job of 24 hour on call service for seven weeks at a set price. She is exhausted, losing health and weight and even at less than full speed, the job has taken all her reserves. The finish line is the promised fabulous tip well known to all who cater to the Saudis.
This book avoids being a rich, richer, richest tell all as she gets to know some of her clients better and develops a deeper relatioship to other servants in their employ. SHe comes to see that the servant class lives permanently in the world of exhausted work, even in the sweet smelling luxury suites. She becomes inured to the sheer hysteria of huge amounts of luxury goods bought compulsively and shares the astounding figure that the Saudis consume 75% of couture items world wide.
In the end she sees the endlessly prohibitive existence of even the richest woman of the family and sees the underside of the floating world of consumption.
She does end the book with real affection toward many of her employers and co-workers, but is deeply disenchanted. One wonders what the ramifications are for the women who opened their hearts to her. This book is sure to have been read in Saudi Arabia.
Overall, this is a fascinating book that gives us a peak into a different world. (and if you know me, this is a big commendation in a book.)
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Insightful Inside Look at the Royal Family 3 novembre 2012
Par M. H. Bayliss - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I was expecting much more of a low brow People magazine read but was delighted to find the observations (and the writing) much more nuanced and insightful. Sure, it would have been easy just to write a tell-all that dissed the royal Saudi family (I mean, how unflattering could the passage about killing all the Jews be??? And this was after we got to know one of the more sympathetic characters and then we realize anyone from the servants to the Royals feel that once the Jews are dead, there will be peace, Inshallah ?!). Plus we wait the whole book for her big pay off (the $20,000 tip she has been waiting for) and as you might imagine, that doesn't quite happen thanks to the lowly status of working women. The details make this book a pleasure to read - with a keen eye for relationships, cultural mores and foibles, the author takes on a front row center tour of how the Saudi princesses shop (and do they SHOP!), get cosmetic surgery and have the entire US government and police force wrapped around their oil soaked fingers. Read in the context of 9/11, it's a bit shocking that the Crown Vics that take the royals around for 7 weeks have more diplomatic immunity than any ambassador. While the book's contents are outrageous, the author helps us see compassion and the good side of at least some of the people she's charged with protecting. I'm still hung up on the extreme version of anti semitism (I doubt even the most right wing Jews would wish death and destruction upon the entire Arab nation/people thinking that would bring peace!) but again, the author handles even the most bigoted thoughts with grace so you can at least see where they originate. I came away thinking less of the royals than before but very highly of how the author navigates this complex maze of servitude and palace intrigue. A first rate read!
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A fun intro into the life of the Saudis 27 octobre 2012
Par Joann Blackburn - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
An easy read which I am going to Christmas gift to family members who have been reluctant to learn more about Islam and middle-eastern cultures. As a chauffeur to teen-age Saudi girls visiting Los Angeles, the author uses a "People-magazine-approach" in describing not only her duties and challenges in this work assignment, but her background in the entertainment industry and how she came to need this job; also, the world of "drivers-for-hire". But she is also thoughtful, emphathetic, and in the end retrospective as she notes the class structure of the family and the role of their servants. Long hours, little pay, and confiscation of their passports make them really captive; at least a couple do escape and run away while on this trip. Book appropriate for teens and young adults, as well as older adults who enjoy a fun, quick, thought-provoking read.
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