Yesterday, pub date for The Jewel of Medina, the L.A. Times published the first review of the book to appear in the consumer press. It begins with a summary of its publishing history (fears that the book might incite violence among Islamic fundamentalists made Random House drop the book. Beaufort Books picked it up. The London publisher’s house was firebombed) and then makes it clear, despite Salman Rushdie’s support of its publication, the book is no Satanic Verses,
The Jewel of Medina is a second-rate bodice ripper or, rather, a second-rate bodice ripper-style romance (it doesn’t really have sex scenes). It’s readable enough, but it suffers from large swaths of purple prose.
After a few zingers about the prose (“Paragraphs read like ad copy for a Rudolph Valentino movie…Jones refers to male genitals as ‘the scorpion’s tail’ “), the reviewer admits that “Jones can make a plot dance” but, in summary,
I can’t say whether, from a religious point of view, The Jewel of Medina is worth the anguish it’s caused, but as literature, it’s a misstep-ridden, pleasant-enough mediocrity.
Despite the controversy and resultant publicity, it seems interest in the book is not strong; in the libraries that have ordered it, reserves are light.
The Jewel of Medina
- Hardcover: $24.95; 432 pages
- Publisher: Beaufort Books, Inc. (October 6, 2008)
- ISBN-10: 0825305187
- ISBN-13: 978-0825305184