Celestial Bodies, Jokha Alharthi (Author), Marilyn Booth - translator(Author), Laurence Bouvard (Narrator), In a world that is dominated by the needs of men, a world where women are totally subservient and duty bound to serve them, what will happen when modernity interferes with that way of life? This book examines the changes in an Omani family, over about a century of time, as world events, education and enlightenment put their fingerprints on the lives of three generations of men and women. Will cousin still marry cousin, will the marriages be arranged, will women be allowed out of the home, will they be allowed education, will they ever drive or choose their spouse and career? If they obtain more freedom and more rights, will the individuals be prepared to handle them? As they go from some living in tents in the desert, to others living in luxury, how do their needs and lifestyles change? From the men who expect to be catered to in every way to the women who believe it is their duty to cater to them, how will their lives change if customs and traditions are altered and one gender is no longer totally subservient to the another? Although it is confusing at times, with so many characters popping up and a timeline that is often not linear, it is written with a prose that is far and above most books today. Filthy language and overt sex scenes to titillate the reader are nowhere to be found as they are in most of the mass produced fiction of today. Rather, the story stands on its own merit. The novel follows a family from Oman. It takes the reader through the changes in culture, choices, and individual freedoms, especially regarding women’s rights in the Arab world and it travels through world events as these changes occur, illustrating its effects on the family members and servants. It examines the thoughts of several individuals, with insight, as their desires develop and/or change. With additional freedom comes responsibility. Are any of the characters ready to handle it? Do they even understand what is expected of them since women, especially, are unaware of what goes on in the world around them, are largely uneducated and are ruled by superstition. They are dominated by the rules and wishes of the men around them and have very little freedom of choice. Men are reared to have all their desires and needs attended to by women. Supposedly they only have to show their wives respect, provide for their needs and the needs of the children, in order to keep them happy. Women are raised to believe that it is their duty to serve men, disregarding their own needs and desires. They are kept largely ignorant of the ways of the world, the workings of the body, and opportunities available to others. When the flood gates open, will women disregard all rules and throw caution to the wind? Will men simply acquiesce to the needs and rights of women? Does the world really change or does morality? How does freedom change the world and the people? Three sisters with different personalities are followed through their lives, with the preceding and succeeding generation’s fingerprints upon their lives. From wife beating to respecting wives, from subservient women to educated women, from secrets to lies, from change to change, the reader witnesses the growth of a people as it morphs from one entity to another. Rather than the world revolving around the celestial bodies, it begins to revolve around the needs of individual people. As this change takes place there is a rise in decadence and disobedience, so is the change and enlightenment beneficial? The book will make one wonder if it was better before or after the people gained more knowledge, more freedom and obtained greater individual choice. One will wonder what freedom really is.; does it eventually entrap you? The world was filled with the hypocrisy of rules that kept one sex subservient to the other. There were slaves in the society who actually believed it was their duty to be slaves. When those oppressed were granted rights and greater freedoms, how did that work out for them? As the sheltered women demanded more rights, they were not always prepared to handle them. Did some succeed while others failed? Was the result of modernity beneficial to society or the individual? What was seen was not always what was real. Although someone was perceived in one way, it may not have been the true face or personality of that person. It was how they were taught to behave and present themselves to the world. The customs around marriage changed and with the changes there were positive and negative results. When a marriage was arranged, it most often lasted. When the young were free to choose their own mates, the choices often failed and rather than men asking for divorce, women soon did, as well. A car was something that occupied a place of honor and symbolized material wealth and success. It had the power of life and death in some parts of the world where it was difficult to travel. Getting to a doctor was tedious and time consuming. Only the wealthy and educated were aware of what tools were available to them. The wealthy were in charge and often were heartless. Even the furniture in the home which once stood for honor and respect in a family, soon evolved into more modern pieces with no ties to ancestry or antiquity. So, in summary, over about a century of time, as the Omani culture is brought into modernity, the changes bring some positive and some negative effects. Was life better or worse in the end? Depression and divorce were some negative byproducts. What will the reader think was positive and/or negative? It makes for good discussion. This book is narrated beautifully by the reader. All the characters are appropriately portrayed and his interpretation does not get in the way of the novel’s intent.