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Driving the Saudis

A Chauffeur's Tale of the World's Richest Princesses (plus Their Servants, Nannies, and One Royal Hairdresser)
Narrated by: Jayne Amelia Larson
Length: 8 hrs and 3 mins
2.0 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

After more than a decade of working in Hollywood, actress Jayne Amelia Larson found herself out of luck, out of work, and out of prospects. Without telling her friends or family, she took a job as a limousine driver, thinking that the work might be a good way to dig out of debt while meeting A-list celebrities and important movie moguls. When she got hired to drive for the Saudi royal family vacationing in Beverly Hills, Larson thought she’d been handed the golden ticket. She’d heard stories of the Saudis giving $20,000 tips and Rolex watches to their drivers. But when the family arrived at LAX with millions of dollars in cash, Larson realized that she might be in for the ride of her life.

With awestruck humor and deep compassion, she describes her eye-opening adventures as the only female in a detail of over 40 assigned to drive a beautiful Saudi princess, her family, and their extensive entourage. To be a good chauffeur means to be a “fly on the wall”, to never speak unless spoken to, to never ask questions, to allow people to forget that you are there. The nature of the employment - Larson was on call 24 hours a day and 7 days a week - and the fact that she was the only female driver gave her an up close and personal view of one of the most closely guarded monarchies in the world, a culture of great intrigue and contradiction, and of unimaginable wealth. 

The Saudis traveled large: They brought furniture, Persian rugs, Limoges china, lustrous silver serving trays, and extraordinary coffees and teas from around the world. The family and their entourage stayed at several luxury hotels, occupying whole floors of each. Each day the royal women spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on plastic surgery and mega-shopping sprees on Rodeo Drive. Even the tea setup had its very own hotel room, while the servants were crammed together on rollaway beds in just a few small rooms down the hall.

Larson witnessed plenty of drama: hundreds of hours of cosmetic surgery recovery, the purchasing of Hermes Birkin bags of every color, roiling battles among the upper-echelon entourage members all jockeying for a better position in the palace hierarchy, and the total disregard that most of the royal entourage had for their exhausted staff. But Driving the Saudis also reveals how Larson grew to understand the complicated nuances of a society whose strict customs remain intact even across continents. She saw the intimate bond that connected the royals with their servants and nannies; she befriended the young North African servant girls, who supported whole families back home by working night and day for the royals but were not permitted to hold their own passports lest they try to flee. While experiencing a life-changing “behind the veil” glimpse into Saudi culture, Larson ultimately discovers that we’re all very much the same everywhere - the forces that corrupt us, make us desperate, and make us human are surprisingly universal. 

©2012 Jayne Amelia Larson (P)2013 Audible Inc.

What listeners say about Driving the Saudis

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Terrible book... Money wasted!!!

Would you try another book written by Jayne Amelia Larson or narrated by Jayne Amelia Larson?

This has been the worst book I've ever read or listened too. Very poor reading and not much to the story!

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  • Little Miss Read's A lot
  • 03-03-2015

Too much about the author

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I thought this book would be an unbiased inside look at the lives of Saudi royal families. Boy was I wrong. What should have been a book about an interesting expose turned out to be the shameless self-aggrandizing autobiography of a failed Hollywood actress. Chapter two is literally all about her childhood, what schools she went to, how many plays she starred in, what celebrities she has met and experiences on various film sets. Nothing about the Saudis. In further chapters I learned all about her relationship with her boyfriend, her love of ritualistic vaginal hair removal, that time when a super hot Beverly Hills police officer checked out her butt and her incessant love of power bars. There was even an entire chapter where she explained what SHE would do if she had millions of dollars. Wow... That's some inciteful speculation Jayne. What little bit the author did write about the Saudis came off racist as she argued with their wishes and imitated their accents. I really can't believe this book made it to publication. I wish one of the other chauffeurs would publish their account with the Saudi royals. This one was all about the author.

Has Driving the Saudis turned you off from other books in this genre?

no

Which character – as performed by Jayne Amelia Larson – was your favorite?

yikes, they all came off a bit racist.

Did Driving the Saudis inspire you to do anything?

Not to talk too much about myself in social environments

8 people found this helpful

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  • Michael M.
  • 13-06-2020

Incredible book with great reader!

This book is phenomenal I finished it in two days. I learned so much about the Middle Eastern culture, and the insane conspicuous consumption. However, there is so much more to the book than just that. If you’re looking for a very entertaining audible this is it!

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  • Tracey
  • 14-10-2018

Excellent read. Most recommended!

Excellent read. Most recommended! I particularly enjoyed the Arabian slangs and accents portrayed by the Narrator..

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  • Marina Smith
  • 24-08-2016

Thoroughly enjoyed!!

As an expat living in Saudi and having worked for a royal family, I could absolutely relate to this story. I so enjoyed hearing the "other" side of the Family and how they behaved in the States. Well done Jayne. I bought the ebook and audiobook to make up for the small tip.

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  • Stacy
  • 27-04-2016

Just ok

I'm sure part of my lower rating has to do with my expectations more than the actual quality of the book but it just seemed to skim the surface. It had details, sure, but when the story was finished, I didn't get the sense of awe that I expected to feel after hearing of being so close to such immense wealth.

The narrator has a nice voice but is not the best reader. Plus, her voice seemed disconnected from the story. There were times when the story's words sounded hip and energetic but the voice reading it sounded soft and smooth. Just a disconnect.

Overall, it wasn't exactly boring but it also wasn't wildly entertaining.

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  • NowhereStairs
  • 24-09-2015

Such a treat.

What made the experience of listening to Driving the Saudis the most enjoyable?

The author is also the narrator and she is lovely to listen to. I have listened to this book more than once, partly because the story is great, but mostly because I just really like her voice.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There were several moments in this book that moved me. By the end, you very much feel like you spent time with all these people. I felt all the feels. I laughed, I cried, I got angry, I was frustrated. But overall, my heart was warmed.

Any additional comments?

I just love this book. I highly recommend listening.

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  • Manoj
  • 07-02-2015

Wonderfull story, narration and performance

This is my favorite book of the year so far. Loved every moment of it. I would highly reccomend it.

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  • S
  • 08-09-2016

Unexpected little gem

What did you like most about Driving the Saudis?

I purchased this book on a whim, I didnt know what to expect but it definately exceeded my expectations and more. Not only was it a great insight into the lives of Saudi princesses and their entourage when the spend time in LA, but also the work of the people who chauffeur them around during their stay.

What did you like best about this story?

Ive read a lot of books about Saudi princesses and their lives in their home country but it was interesting to see how they live in a country which is not their own, one with very different morals to their home.

Have you listened to any of Jayne Amelia Larson’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Ive not listened to any of her performances before, but this was well written and well read so I would certainly listen to anything else she may do.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There was a piece about a young girl who was due to enter an arranged marriage on her return home and it was rather moving to hear how she was viewing places she may never get the chance to see again.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jillybuns
  • 15-07-2015

Interesting journey into how the other half lives!

This was a very pleasant read & offered insight to the secret lives of Saudi women. Would have liked to have learnt more!
Larsons narration is extremely professional and a pleasure to listen to.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Hedgehog
  • 16-05-2020

Interesting insight into Saudi Royals

Interesting insight into the Royals also telling us about the way the servants who are with the family members 24/7 are treated. I felt very sorry for them after reading about their 17 hour days looking after the spoilt Royal family members. An unexpected twist at the end on departing the working stint regarding money for the work the author had undertaken and also a nice happier twist again at the end for her - which clearly inspired her to write this book.

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  • balzar
  • 20-01-2019

Very entertaining

A very good and logical story. The atmosphere of heat and general pandemonium in Baghdad after the retreat of the Turks in WWI is wonderfully evoked - you get quite thirsty just reading this! The hero is very well described - you really feel you know him The details about the trains and railways are fascinating - in fact I only got this after watching Andrew Martin's television programme about forgotten trains of Britain.