I heard the author give an interview on Howard Stern about this book, and was intrigued not so much by her harem hooker past but by the fact she is now married to the bassist of Weezer, and they adopted a little boy from Ethiopia just like me the Ethiopia part, not the Weezer part And okay, the harem thing was sort of interesting But though this book was readable, by the end I was totally annoyed by the writer She has the pretense of being this fantastic author who honed her craft during her second tour of duty in the Brunei harem, but there s nothing particularly gripping or striking about her just competent writing This book would be downright boring if not for the salacious harem details, and there was nothing really uplifting about it, just the story of a troubled upper middle class brat with no ambition and no talent, relying on her body and dull wits to make a mint of money as a prostitute Two stars because I m a sucker for salacious harem details. This was a pleasant surprise The subtitle gave me pause for a moment, but this memoir was not the tawdry, cheesy and or poorly written mess I feared it might be Why was I reading this at all A 1 find at the library and a mood to indulge in a light, easy breezy summertime read It was that, but , a coming of age story about the author s search for identity at ages 18 and 19 in an unusual setting with a twist, and finally, her learning how to have compassion for her own mistakes and shortcomings The writing here was so much better than I expected I think I ve bumped it up almost a star just for the gap reaction, the happiness I experienced realizing how much of a difference there was between my low expectations and my enjoyment An adopted New Jersey teen with a troubled home life, Jillian Lauren drops out of college and supports herself in New York with a job as a stripper, then graduates to an escort service She s offered an opportunity to go to Brunei to party with a prince why not , an assignment that promises exceptional compensation Yearning for adventure and the cash she leaves her boyfriend, lies to her parents, and lands on Borneo, at a complex of palace adjacent guest houses that are temporary homes to a rotating collection of young women from all over the world who are kept around for the entertainment of Jefri, Prince of Brunei , brother to the reigning Sultan The subtitle My Life in a Harem is a bit misleading Actually, Jillian stayed several weeks on two different occasions The girls main activity was hanging out at dull disco style parties each night where they would vie for the attention of their host The relationships were redolent of the personal politics of a high school lunchroom, but understandably, given their ages At 18, Jillian was not even the baby of the group And the Prince, known to his visitors as Robin, played each of them against the others for his own amusement In the midst of the scheming, manipulative rivalries, Jillian develops an unhealthy attachment to the powerful, charismatic, but bored, spoiled, sex addicted and emotionally sadistic prince To battle the skull crushing boredom there are field trips When faced with such despair, a girl can always shop We hit the Yaohan with travel goggles on, the kind that make every little thing look irresistible because it s exotic and the money makes no sense and you feel like you re in a video game with tinny Asian pop songs and smiling wide faced shop girls who speak to you in rhymes and giggle at your strangeness In this video game you gain strength by acquiring snacks and T shirts and little stuffed animals and sweet smelling soaps and brightly colored lip gloss This trip was just foreshadowing another retail binge where Jillian is taken to a shopping marathon that lasts for eleven and a half hours and where she is encouraged to spend in one day probably the annual revenue of some small third world nations When she finds herself working as a stewardess on the royal yacht without any warning, training, or experience, she realized that the Prince liked to put his people in bizarre situations just to see what they d do We were his little lab rats After a while Jillian does become, at least temporarily, a favorite, and she shares Robin s bed and is his regular companion I kissed Robin good bye every morning and sat next to him every night at dinner It was like having a boyfriend, except he was a dictator s brother who was married three times already and had forty other girlfriends Power was something I d never experienced before I m not sure that I was in love with Robin as a person, exactly, but I was in love with that feeling, ecstatically in love I may have gotten the two confused Power tasted like an oyster, like I d swallowed the sea, all its memories and calm and rot and brutality While theoretically she was not a prisoner, there were times she was locked in a room to wait for Robin, or found herself on a journey where she had no idea of her destination A guard who fetches her one evening takes her into an elevator and she has a moment of over dramatic imagination and panic I was like that guy in the gangster movie who knows he s about to get whacked for some infraction I imagined the headlines Despairing Spurned Mistress Throws Herself Off a Malaysian Rooftop American Prostitute Dies in a Drug Deal Gone Wrong at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton Jersey Teen Disappears While on Holiday in Southeast Asia At least I d die in an evening gown Jillian is a very young woman trying to recreate herself, but gets all tangled up in the shallow and superficial in this bizarre and toxic environment, and when she returns to New York, very well compensated as promised, she has trouble adjusting to life there She goes back to Brunei for another stint as a Prince Jefri groupie Needing a creative outlet, a sense of purpose and a way to deal with the idiocy of the whole situation, she begins writing about her experiences in letters and journals, which became the foundation of this book When she goes home to America once again, to search for her birth mother and for herself, she knew she had severed the connection between my soul and my body so profoundly that I could barely feel my own skin any If I never saw Robin again, maybe I d be free to return to myself I knew I was facing a long road back There is a happy ending epilogue for Jillian Things didn t turn out so well for the Prince I wouldn t recommend this highly, but if you re in the mood for this sort of thing, it is entertaining and the writing, again not bad. I saw this author on The View promoting this book I immediately thought 2 things 1 I am about to rewrite a story that is set in a modern day harem and this would be good for research and 2 here is another person who got a publishing contract not because she can write, but because she happened to have a good story which in light of the recent Oprah book club memoir debacles may or may not be true Amid the depressing thoughts that I would perhaps have to join a harem to get a NY publishing contract, I ordered the book immediately.Again, I was proved wrong This woman was no sham, she can really write It is later revealed in the text why To keep her sanity while in this harem she would write First a journal, later short stories, then later her memoir.This book is very thought provoking, the main question being how in the world does a girl who grew up in New Jersey end up in a Prince s harem in this day and age The answer soon follows in this passage Besides the money, jewels, nightly parties, free flowing champagne and gourmet food, designer clothes, lush accommodations and free international travel, there was this begin quote Sometimes I fell prey to fantasies of becoming a princess It seemed so strange that it had entered my orbit of possibilities What Disney brained American girl hadn t lain in bed and known deep in her heart that she was worthy of being woken from an evil spell by the kiss of a prince That she would open her eyes and, due to no effort of her own, find that she had been saved Who wouldn t consider attempting to grab that gold ring, that diamond crown from Some Girls page 189 The I thought about it, the I read, the I realized that this modern harem was not such a phenomenon after all I had visions of Hugh Hefner s mansion teeming with girlfriends and Playmates at nightly parties Of ABC s The Bachelor where 25 women will claw each other s eyes out for the chance to be with a man who yesterday was a complete stranger to them.How did Lauren, an NYU student drop out, end up there A struggling actress from an abusive family she went from stripping, to being an escort , to the harem within about a year when she was 18 and struggling to pay to live in NYC while waiting for her big acting break.My impression, besides the realization that the Playboy mansion and The Bachelor were both very harem like, was that being in a harem was far less exciting than I had imagined The girls wore their normal clothing, not see thru I Dream of Jeannie outfits No one made them perform the Dance of the Seven Veils Instead they disco danced Even though this was the early 90s and disco was long dead, apparently the Sultan of Brunai s prince brother still liked it and he always got what he wanted There was no training for the girls on how to be a sexual expert In fact, there was hardly any sex at all Understandably There was 1 prince with 3 wives, and 40 girls Hard to get to them all for any mortal man, even a prince Some girls had sex with him once then were sent home after their 2 week stint Others became a favorite and stayed for a year, not because they were particularly good at sex, but because they added to the drama which entertained the prince, much like the crazy girls on The Bachelor always seem to hang around for a long time because they are good entertainment.For the Disney fied little girl in all of us Yes, the prince did eventually propose to a harem girl since he was allowed legally to take 4 wives, and his first wife had already provided suitable heirs The joke was on him The harem girl of his dreams took the money and jewels and disappeared, never to be heard from again She wasn t an American, apparently Disney doesn t reach Thailand and being Princess 4 didn t appeal to her. I found this book sad and disturbing, bereft of any real point.I picked it up out of curiosity about Brunei and an abiding interest in each person s unique story, but finished it only to see if the poor girl eventuallyfound some sort of redemption It seems she didn t.Jillian and her brother Johnny grew up in the middle class non observantJewish family into which they were both adopted Both experienced troubledand wild teenage years Johnny found fulfillment in God, becoming a devoutHasid Jillian takes a condescending view of her brother s path, whileproceeding to make one unfortunate decision after another In the courseof the story, which is told in very vulgar and melodramatic terms, she becomes a stripper, a prostitute, a porn performance artist, and the mother of an aborted child She is perpetually miserable, and yet refuses to seek any path that might lead to true freedom and joy Her primary philosophicalguideline is What would Patti Smith do Despite endless self analysis,she never seems to get it It is obvious that she is full of self hate, and yet there is a smugness about her that I found very annoying.I can t think of one reason to recommend this book to anyone In fact, I msorry I read it myself. I thought this was going to be about Brunei I thought this was going to be about life in a harem I thought this was going to be about a woman s descriptions and feelings about harem life It was none of this Some Girls is a pathetic attempt at storytelling about a woman s boring childhood, family, and sex escapades.First of all, the word harem is used in a very modern sense, and not in the traditional or Islamic sense which means the place where the women of the household live their lives The book starts off with the author whining about her family problems Then she moves on to become a sleazy actress and gets promoted to being a sleazy prostitute All this just takes up and space By the time she flies to Brunei, you are already heartily bored.But it s not like the book picks up once she is in the harem Oh no That would be money for worth So it s basically this woman and a number of other similar boring women whining about shit and having karaoke parties One of the princes makes an occasional appearance and picks out one of them and has sex with them Jeez A newspaper article on this subject would be intriguing I found Lauren annoying and while I began to realise that she had severe problems and came from a terribly dysfunctional and abusive family, I don t understand the need to write this book There is nothing interesting in it She has no insights, no descriptive abilities, no writing capacity, no ideas, no ability to dig out hidden gems from everyday life, and frankly no moral values, even one of which might have made this book non redundant I didn t even hate the author, that s how boring this book was As for Brunei, forget it This might have taken place in the White House or in some other galaxy It wouldn t have made an iota of difference to the ehm story , to give this atrocity a graceful appellation The author makes no attempt to get to know or understand the local culture, and indeed, she doesn t even meet any of the locals At all She just meets other prostitutes and none of them are interesting either Or maybe they are, and Lauren just couldn t bring it out I wouldn t know I didn t manage to finish this book. I picked this book up after reading about it in the paper I was unaware that it was a memoir type story I figured it was fiction My bad The writer appears to be bi polar as far as her story is concerned On one hand she glamorizes being a hooker, on the other she tries to show she regrets her choices, wants to be a better personbut keeps going right back to all the perks of being a prostitute She waxes poetic a lot, it s all BS, like a creative writing assignment gone bad Some of the events sound like a lot of BS In her story she says she leaves home at sixteen to go to college, drops out a few months before she turns 18, is left on her own and turns to stripping At 18 she joins the harem, but she likes to throw things in there that make you wonder how someone had time and money to do these things in a six month time span There s an undercurrent that she really is a good girl, she just happens to do drugs, take off her clothes and have sex for money Had I known this was the basis of the book, I wouldn t have bothered It was like a train wreck though, you knew it was going to be bad, but you looked anyway Overall the writer is extremely shallow in her own words and didn t leave you much room to be sympathetic Not sure what the lesson was in this book, but I m not sure she learned it. I admit that I gave this memoir five stars instead of four because I know the author, though only distantly I admired her writing early in her career and when I finally read this memoir I was pretty blown away I hear a lot of hating in the comments, but that doesn t really make sense to me It s really quite a beautifully written book Maybe memoir is just one of those things that either clicks with you or doesn t But I ve read a lot of books about sex work, and this one was unquestionably one of the most insightful, sex positive, and non judgmental More importantly, it was amazingly poetic at times and a pleasure to read just for the writing style.Lauren is close ish to my age and I felt very much like the generational aspect was very close to my experience A lot of the wacky bohemians she knew in NY were similar to those I knew in SF, and the era she describes, I remember vividly That scenery coexists with the bizarre, dysfunctional, warped, emotionally sadistic world of the prince s harem, and the juxtaposition is utterly demented I really enjoyed almost everything about this book. I didn t love this book I thought it was a waste of time The language was awful, and I didn t understand many parts She skips around and brings in analogies that don t make a lot of sense Lots of reviews talk about how she found herself and grew up I didn t get that at all Seemed to me like she didn t learn anything from her mistakes It skips 14 years ahead and gives one page on her life now with her husband and baby Somewhere in that 14 years she may have learned, but if so, she skipped right past it And I felt bad for her parents that she rips apart throughout the book She seemed like a spoiled, ungrateful brat to me. A Jaw Dropping Story Of How A Girl From The Suburbs Ends Up In A Prince S Harem, And Emerges From The Secret Xanadu Both Richer And Wiser At Eighteen, Jillian Lauren Was An NYU Theater School Dropout With A Tip About An Upcoming Audition The Casting Director Told Her That A Rich Businessman In Singapore Would Pay Pretty American Girls , If They Stayed For Two Weeks To Spice Up His Parties Soon, Jillian Was On A Plane To Borneo, Where She Would Spend The Next Eighteen Months In The Harem Of Prince Jefri Bolkiah, Youngest Brother Of The Sultan Of Brunei, Leaving Behind Her Gritty East Village Apartment For A Palace With Rugs Laced With Gold And Trading Her Band Of Artist Friends For A Coterie Of Backstabbing Beauties More Than Just A Sexy Read Set In An Exotic Land, Some Girls Is Also The Story Of How A Rebellious Teen Found Herself And The Courage To Meet Her Birth Mother And Eventually Adopt A Baby Boy 2.5 stars This is a very quick, interesting read The author is looking back at her 18 19 year old self who dropped out of NYU, became a stripper, became an escort, and ended up as a member of the Prince of Brunei s harem this is all on the book jacket, so it s not a spoiler While I really enjoyed some of the passages the scenes where she spends spends spends in Chanel, Dolce Gabbana, etc are crazy , there are a lot of long boring flashbacks to her upper middle class Jewish upbringing in Long Island Since I grew up with a lot of middle class Jewish girls in Westchester, this was really familiar and repetitive to me, especially as it seemed that the author dwelled on a lot of abusive situations without ever blaming her parents, instead internalizing a lot of the abuse I would have liked to have seen some reflection on the events that transpired in the harem, rather than the superficialities of the court what girl was fighting with who, who wore what on what night, etc Overall a decent book club book or library read, but if you re looking for an epic memoir about either the sex trade or the life of the uber rich oil monarchies, this is not it.
Jillian is the author of the new memoir, EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED, the New York Times bestselling memoir, SOME GIRLS My Life in a Harem, and the novel, PRETTY, all from Plume Penguin SOME GIRLS, which chronicles her time spent in the harem of the Prince of Brunei, has been translated into eighteen languages.EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED is the story of Jillian s most radical act learning the st
- 339 pages
- Some Girls: My Life in a Harem
- Jillian Lauren
- 05 February 2019 Jillian Lauren