…brilliant at voices, whether English northern, Home-counties genteel, American brash, Arabian or Indian. From Barbara’s letters to an unloving son there emerges a wonderfully rounded character, capable equally of observation and compassion. Where other Western women see ‘farce and food for gossip’ in the monstrous ways of the male Arab, Barbara perceives ‘tragedy, betrayal and cruelty…….’ Clearly, Miranda Miller had a fairly rotten time in Saudi Arabia. The result is riveting: a culture shock sharp enough to send me back to the Koran, where it is indeed written that women are inferior to men and may be beaten, and that men in paradise will be served by bashful virgins.