When Jayne Amelia Larson hit a lull in her acting career, she turned to chauffeur work to fill the gaps. This provided her a unique opportunity to drive the Saudi family visting Los Angeles for their summer vacation. In Driving the Saudis, she relates some of her experiences in this unusual assignment.
There are some interesting moments in this narrative. When one of the princesses does not handle American currency properly, it’s obvious she feels some shame, which is surprising in royalty. There is a bond that develops between the nanny and Larson, while chaperoning the princess and looking out for her best interests. And there is unexpected kindness that the servants show her as they all become weary of the endless work. There is also lavish spending, elective surgeries, rudeness, and high expectations that all who serve the family will do so quickly and efficiently. The long hours and many demands take their toll, but the promise of a hefty cash tip keep Larson going until the very end.
Unfortunately, this book gets off to an extremely slow start. Larson shares too much about herself, her education, and her career. She offers her thoughts and opinions of the family and their behavior, but there are few actual anecdotes. These are brief, and leave no lasting impression of the individual family members. Instead, we are given just a sketchy overall picture of the family and their collective behavior.
Reviewer: Alice Berger