I’m really thrilled to have Georgina Penney on my blog today. Not only has Georgina written a funny, witty and different new Chic Lit novel, Irrepressible You, but she has lived most of her fascinating life overseas in places that many romance books are set. Funnily enough, the setting of her new novel is Australia – I guess the grass is always greener! 🙂
Georgina has had many fascinating experiences in her life as an ex-pat, but one of those was trying to make certain she could still feed her addiction to romance books in places where that kind of thing might be frowned on. I find her stories fascinating. I hope you do too. Georgina, take it away…
Reading Romance in Saudi Arabia
When my husband and I decided to move to Saudi Arabia for his work, we received a massive list from the Australian recruiters detailing all the things we could and could not take to the sandy country. The list included anything that could be considered a “false idol,” as well as any photographs, books or movies. It was truly draconian and had me reconsidering our little scheme to play expat.
The false idol thing I could deal with. It was the books that had me worried. At the time we had a growing collection of about two thousand books and counting. E-books weren’t on my radar and the thought of leaving any of my collection behind was awful.
It took a lot of deliberation but in the end we decided to damn the consequences and take the lot. After all, we reasoned, what would be the worst that could happen. Everything would be confiscated? Well, we weren’t intending on moving back to Australia any time soon so if we left everything behind we’d have to sell it all or pay for storage.
Thank goodness we did because not long after arriving “in Kingdom” we discovered that most of the recruiter’s advice had been absolute bollocks. It took one trip into the capital city of the Eastern province to see that DVDs were readily available, albeit under the counter down in the souk. Paintings and figurines that could be considered false idols? They were everywhere. In fact, during my time in Kingdom I purchased a number of beautiful acrylic paintings, many of them featuring people, mostly women.
And books…well, that was the biggest surprise. The English section of the Jarir Bookstore in Khobar had shelf upon shelf stocked with romance novels, and not just any romance novels. I’m talking Fabio bedecked bodice rippers with busty ladies.
It would have to be experienced to truly understand how surreal it was to stand side by side with Saudi women dressed in a niqarb, black gloves and an abaya that pooled around their feet so no toes showed, who were inspecting the very same naughty novels that I was. I still remember making eye contact with one of these ladies and the half-guilty-half cheeky smile we shared.
I don’t know if the religious police have cottoned on to the fact that the English section of the Saudi bookshops are full of pirate captains and busty wenches but I hope they haven’t. Just the thought of those colorful shelves makes me a very, very happy lady.
You don’t become a notorious British celebrity without rubbing a few people the wrong way, which is why writer and comedian Ben Martindale has decamped to Australia until the latest media frenzy dies down.
When he meets Amy Blaine, a perky blonde who dresses like a 1950s pin-up girl, he knows he’s hit the satirical jackpot. He begins to fill his weekly London column with snarky observations about her life, clothes, and even their most intimate moments. It doesn’t occur to him that Amy, who is letting her guard down for the first time in her adult life, might be upset – after all, it’s hilarious, and his readers love her!
It isn’t until Amy discovers the extent of his betrayal that Ben begins to realise just how badly he’s cocked up the best thing that ever happened to him. But is it too late?
You can find out more about Georgina by visiting her at: