Many people seem to believe that her books are a hoax but I am not sure. Certain parts made me feel like their was a lot of media propaganda and some were realistic and I could relate to it. Jean Sasson writes very well and this book was interesting. It may be filled with propaganda but it provided a bit of insight into Joanna's lifeI liked the book because Joanna is shown as a strong determined woman given her situation but I also feel that she does not present herself as a proud Muslim woman. She seems to resent her heritage. I liked that even though they ran away they still tried to help the people they left behind.
Jean Sassoon is an author who is possibly best known for her series of books based upon the recollections of a Saudi Princess, since the publication of those books she has written several other biographical accounts with other Middle Eastern women, the lastest of these which I have got hold of was this Love in A Torn Land. This book features the story of Joanna a Kurdish woman living in Iraq in the late 1980's.
As anyone who knows anything about this period will be aware at this time Saddam Husseins Ba'athist party were in control of the country and the Kurdish people of Iraq were discontent with their inferior treatment, making it a politically and personally turbulant and dangerous time for Kurds across Iraq.
Originally resident in Baghdad Joanna, her mother and siblings leave the city for Kurdistan on their annual holiday leaving behind her father, it is on one of these summer trips that she fall in love with a young Kurdish man, Sarbast, who has since they first met become one of the Kurdish freedom fighters, one of the peshmerga.
Eventually Joanna leaves her family and home to marry Sarbast and live in a peshmerga village hidden in the mountains of Kurdistan, it is here that she and her husband join the fight for Kurdish independance. After being temporarily blinded in a chemical attack Joanna and her husband make the perilous trek across the mountains to the relative safety of Iran. In starting their new life in Iran Joanna soon discovers that she is pregnant, claiming refugee status after the birth of her son the small family move to the UK where they can live in total safety.
As with Jean Sassoon's other books you can get a real feel for the conditions and lifestyles of the woman featured, and certainly in the current climate with Iraq again in the headlines it is worth being reminded of the reasons behind the decisions to send troops back in to the region. While it is to be acknowledged that stories such as Joannas are sadly all to common in that region that one such story can be told must give hope to the thousands still living in the chaos of Iraq.
Sassoon's style of writing at times makes you feel that the story unfolding within the pages is maybe fiction but given that the tale can only be told from the hindsight of the woman who told it to her originally chances are that this is true, certainly noone will remember conversations 20 years after they were spoken, though the general timeline of events will be fairly accurate, as no doubt are the impressions and feelings. But once again it has to be remembered that it is written with the benefit of hindsight so though the story unfolds in front of you it is possible that Joanna in her telling will have omitted things, leaving sadly a general feeling that this book may well be at worst a clever piece of propaganda, though no matter what it is a well written and interesting story which anyone who has any interest in current events could well find worth a read for some background information.
Bestselling author, Jean Sasson tells the dramatic true story of a young woman caught up in Saddam Hussein's genocide of the Kurdish people of Iraq. One morning Joanna, a young bride living in the Kurdish mountains of Iraq, was surprised to see dead birds drop silently out of the clear sky. They were followed by sinister canisters falling to the ground, bringing fear and death. It was 1987, and Saddam Hussein had ordered his cousin 'Chemical Ali' to bombard Joanna's village, Bergalou, with chemical weapons. Temporarily blinded in the attack, Joanna was rescued by her husband, a Kurdish freedom fighter. After being caught in another bombardment and left for dead in the rubble, they managed to flee over the mountains in a harrowing escape. Now living in the UK and working for British Airways, Joanna has told the story of her eventful life to Jean Sasson, the bestselling chronicler of oppressed women's lives in the Princess trilogy and Mayada. Love in a Torn Land is published while the world watches the trial of the notorious 'Chemical Ali', Saddam Hussein's most bloodthirsty henchman, for crimes including the genocide of the Kurdish people.