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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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  • S
  • 08-09-16

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.

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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.

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Enjoyable

I enjoyed this book. Good storyline and narrators voice a pleasure to listen too. Overall an enjoyable read.

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compared to other books available, really boring

compared to other books available, really boring, wouldn't waste my time. there are more insightful ones available.

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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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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.

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  • Little Miss Read's A lot
  • 03-03-15

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

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  • Marina Smith
  • 24-08-16

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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  • Ad
  • 09-07-21

3 NOTEs..!

1. Many thanks for the book + the narration.
2. Looks like a culture shock...
3. (General) Please 🙏 learn about islam from its resources..

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  • Connie T.
  • 10-06-21

Better than I imagined

What a true story of unbelievable wealth and a foreign desire for the good life in America. I truly enjoyed the easy listening and non-stop adventures in this book. A first hand view of what it is like to be Saudi princess with dozens of people at your beck and call. Fascinating.

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  • Maverick Lee
  • 17-05-21

Eat Pray Love but completely unique

The last time I read a book like this it was Eat Pray Love. This book is beautifully written and completely unique compared to the beloved book by Ms. Gilbert. The book opened my eyes to a beautiful and often cruel culture that I thought I knew about. I was riveted by the tale throughout its being woven along. No idea if this author has more books but if not who could blame her? She already wrote the great American novel, how can one even follow this beautifully written story? Still I look hopefully forward to additional works from the very talented Ms. Larson.

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  • Sound off
  • 13-05-21

Interesting & delightful glimpse

I loved reading about the families the author chauffeured. Her stories gave me a peek at the private world of personal drivers and interaction with her Saudi families

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  • Molly Admana
  • 12-01-21

OMG!! This author is full of herself

I fail to understand the relevance of anything she is babbling about in relation to the title of this book. So far... all she is doing is bragging about herself and there is no story line. Just all nonsensical memoirs of her life. I don’t know who she even is so not sure why anyone would find her little glimpses of memories interesting or relevant.
What was the point of her story about Kurk Douglas?? That he thought she should be married to someone he is friends with???

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  • Victoria Eriksson
  • 02-01-21

Really fascinating memoir

I read this in a single sitting. The author tells the story of the women and girls of the Saudi royal family and their deeply troubling limitations on options and opportunities as females, despite their unfathomable wealth. The book made me feel extremely grateful as a young woman to have been born in the USA. It also made me feel troubled as our country has been a crucial ally to Saudi Arabia, and in so doing, we are all complicit in the brutal oppression and repression by the male rulers of the Saudi Kingdom of women and girls. This was not the first time I've reflected on the US-Saudi relationship and its moral failings, but it provided a unique perspective and was exceedingly entertaining in addition to honestly informative. Highly recommend.

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  • Michael M.
  • 13-06-20

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
  • 14-10-18

Excellent read. Most recommended!

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