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Life in a harem

Some Girls: My Life in a Harem. By Jillian Lauren. 2010. 339 pages.


As an infant, Gillian Lauren was adopted by a nice Jewish family, but she appears to have always been a willful child. She wanted to be an actress and so convinced her parents to let her go to New York, where she supported herself by working as an exotic dancer at first. But that was hard work and it didn’t pay all that well, so following a tip from another girl, she started work as a call girl. Eventually she was recruited by a representative of a prince of Brunei, and she travelled there and became a member of his harem.

The prince does not come off very well in this story. He is, as you would expect of a man who sees women merely as sexual objects, unkind and myopic in many ways. Nevertheless, Jillian made her bed, and she slept in it, with him, for a while, earning big money.

It is reassuring to note that after Jillian came back to the States (well, the second time, anyway), she found a man who loved her, had a child, and, despite her numerous tattoos, got involved with the PTA of her kid’s school. But this obviously intelligent and sensitive woman has a larger tale to tell, the tale of sexual exploitation and misuse of women’s bodies in the world of big money, yes, but by extension in all the world.

There is little in this book that could be described as pornographic. There are a few sex scenes, but they are largely muted. Clearly, the author is not trying to exploit that angle. This is simply a raw and unusual bildungsroman, about a young woman in a hurry, who decided to use her body to get ahead. That she learns the folly of her course without being destroyed is both affirmative and gratifying.