Synopses & Reviews
1967. Gin Mitchell knows a better life awaits her when she marries Mason McPhee. But nothing can prepare her for the world she and Mason step into when he takes a job with the Arabian American Oil company in Saudi Arabia. In the gated compound of Abqaiq, Gin and Mason are given a home with marble floors, a houseboy to cook their meals, and a gardener to tend the sandy patch out back. Even among the veiled women and strict laws, Gin's life has become the stuff of fairy tales. But when a young Bedouin woman is found dead, washed up on the shores of the Persian Gulf, Gin's world closes in around her, and the one person she trusts is nowhere to be found.
Starred Review. "Barnes deftly teases humanity out of corruption and hypocrisy, and her language is finely wrought and her pacing masterful..." - Publishers Weekly
"Barnes writes poetically and intensely about personal conflict and subtly informs the reader about continuing Western misunderstandings of Middle Eastern culture." - Kirkus Reviews
"...a remarkably good read." - NPR
One of Vogue's Six Summer Reads. - Vogue
"Barnes has taken a small peek into the history of an important country, and within these lyrical pages is a story well worth investigating." - San Francisco Chronicle
"...a close inspection of how radically a life can be rescaled, and how quickly. With a protagonist like this, Barnes could have set her novel in a single room, and we'd keep reading." - The Boston Globe
"The plot is unfurled like a rich carpet, rolling out over a vast space before it gently settles and fills every corner. Barnes, a writing professor at the University of Idaho, gets more motion and feeling into a deceptively plain paragraph than many novelists can cram into a chapter." - The Seattle Times
"Seldom has a book drawn me into its clutches as quickly as this one did. By the second sentence I was hooked..." - The Austin Chronicle
"...a luminous portrait of life in the desert. Kim Barnes weaves a mesmerizing, richly imagined tale..." - The Missoulian
"I was transfixed by Kim Barnes's thoughtful, elegant account of a young American woman's experience of 1960s Saudi Arabia. It describes a piece of the world that seems utterly fresh, never-written-about, and In the Kingdom of Men brings it to vivid life. This is a historical novel which is not only romantic and dramatic and compelling, but has particular, important relevance to our current age." - Dan Chaon, author of Stay Awake and Await Your Reply
"A swashbuckling, thrilling ride of a book, In The Kingdom of Men transports readers to the sands of Arabia and the recesses of the human heart. Ginny McPhee is a heroine unlike any other, negotiating love, politics, the intricacies of marriage, and the journey to selfhood. A vivid and compelling tale." - Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Birds of Paradise
"This is a mesmerizing novel, set in the American heartland and Saudi Arabia - two locations that on the face of it couldn't be more different. But from the point of view of a woman not allowed to be herself, the two places have startling similarities. We read, in part, to be taken elsewhere. In the Kingdom of Men succeeds mightily in this. We also read because we enjoy good writing. You'll find that in abundance here." - Elizabeth Berg, author of Once Upon a Time, There Was You
"A great windswept adventure full of tension and suspense, In the Kingdom of Men is moving in the truest sense, sweeping the reader along with its gorgeous prose, a rich setting, and most of all, Gin McPhee, one of those rare characters who sits up on page one, grabs you and pulls you into her world." - Jess Walter, author of The Financial Lives of the Poets
"This novel has it all: an intriguing story that thunders to a thrilling climax, characters who grab our hearts, gorgeous prose and a setting that stuns the reader at every turn. Arabia!" - Ellen Sussman, author of French Lessons
"If you want to understand, right in your gut, the history of the American relationship with Saudi Arabia; if you want a magical, layered story of west-inside-east, culture layered over culture, and the slow - still ongoing - revolution of gender and race oppression, In the Kingdom of Men is your book. It's Mad Men meets The Sheltering Sky, a Revolutionary Road for the oil-addicted. It's also an utter pleasure to read." - Anthony Doerr, author of Memory Wall and About Grace
Award-winning Kim Barnes weaves a rich tale of one woman's quest for the truth, no matter the cost.
About the Author
Kim Barnes is the author of three novels and two memoirs, one of which was a finalist for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize. She is coeditor of two anthologies, and her essays, stories, and poems have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including the Pushcart Prize Anthology. She teaches writing at the University of Idaho and lives with her husband, the poet Robert Wrigley, on Moscow Mountain.
Marguerite Gavin has recorded over three hundred audiobooks in nearly every genre. A nominee for the prestigious Audie Award, she was won both AudioFile Earphones and Publishers Weekly Listen-Up awards. AudioFile magazine says "Marguerite Gavin is an accomplished storyteller...with a sonorous voice, rich and full of emotion, she easily delivers wry humor and moves smoothly from accent to accent, recalling multiple characters perfectly." She lives with her family in the Washington, D.C., area.