Stolen Lives: Twenty years in a Desert Jail

Today, since I’m laid out on the couch with a slight sangria & late night hangover, I thought I should try to redeem myself from yesterdays post of guilty pleasure smutty t.v. with a slightly more cultured book recommendation.  I read Stolen Lives: Twenty years in a Desert Jail when it was selected for Oprah’s Book Club in 2001.  I happened to catch the episode that featured guest and author, Malika Oufkir and her story was so compelling that I went to Barnes & Noble the next day to buy it and proceeded to devour it over the next two weeks.  Every spare second I had at the time was dedicated to this book and it became one of my most memorable and favorite reads.  Over the years I’ve thought about reading it again, but I leant it to someone {cough…Mother} who then leant it to someone else and I’m sure they passed it along as well.  C’est la vie!  Since it’s been ten years that I last held this book in my hands, I don’t feel confident of giving a stellar personal review as the details are a bit fuzzy, BUT I will tell you that I was completely abducted by her story, immersed in her early fairy-tale palace life and on the edge of my seat as her tale went from magic to misery.  It’s an incredible story of perseverance and survival.

Here’s the Amazon review for a more details….

At the age of 5, Malika Oufkir, eldest daughter of General Oufkir, was adopted by King Muhammad V of Morocco and sent to live in the palace as part of the royal court. There she led a life of unimaginable privilege and luxury alongside the king’s own daughter. King Hassan II ascended the throne following Muhammad V’s death, and in 1972 General Oufkir was found guilty of treason after staging a coup against the new regime, and was summarily executed. Immediately afterward, Malika, her mother, and her five siblings were arrested and imprisoned, despite having no prior knowledge of the coup attempt.

They were first held in an abandoned fort, where they ate moderately well and were allowed to keep some of their fine clothing and books. Conditions steadily deteriorated, and the family was eventually transferred to a remote desert prison, where they suffered a decade of solitary confinement, torture, starvation, and the complete absence of sunlight. Oufkir’s horrifying descriptions of the conditions are mesmerizing, particularly when contrasted with her earlier life in the royal court, and many graphic images will long haunt readers. Finally, teetering on the edge of madness and aware that they had been left to die, Oufkir and her siblings managed to tunnel out using their bare hands and teaspoons, only to be caught days later. Her account of their final flight to freedom makes for breathtaking reading. Stolen Lives is a remarkable book of unfathomable deprivation and the power of the human will to survive.

If you decide to give this memoir a read, let me know what you think of it.
Xoxo, Jenna


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