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Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.

In the Kingdom of Men

In the Kingdom of Men - Kim Barnes

Born dirt poor in Oklahoma and raised by a Bible strict grandfather, Gin Mitchell trades her dilapidated cage for a gilded one when her young husband takes a job with Arabian American Oil Company in Saudi Arabia. It’s 1967 and Mason is an admirer of Martin Luther King, Jr. and fearless believer in doing what’s right, which earns him respect but also enemies in a company whose policies dictate that native brown skinned workers are necessarily inferior.


Stuck inside the luxurious home and walled compound the company provides, Gin has servants to garden, cook and clean, but nothing much to do. The rules about what to wear and how to behave are as restrictive as her grandfather’s. Company wives aren’t allowed to drive because Saudi men might see them, and they aren’t allowed to leave the compound or explore the desert on their own so they spend their days in aimless, sometimes licentious, leisure. Constrictions don’t sit well with Gin, who has inherited the fierce, free-spirited tendencies of her female relatives. She feels an affinity for her male servants, a Bedouin driver and an Indian “houseboy”, who also live under repressive rules, but her fascination with their lives and struggles toward selfhood create tension in her marriage, ultimately leading to danger.


It’s an absorbing and immersive story with a fascinating setting, complex characters and a haunting thriller ending that doesn’t wrap everything up too neatly.