adult novels · book reviews

Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women by Geraldine Brooks


Title: Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Source: Borrowed
Edition:  Paperback
Publication:  Penguin Books Ltd
Pages: 272 pages
Category: Non- Fiction, Islam, History, Religion, Feminism


Geraldine Brooks spent two years as a Middle East news correspondent, covering the death of Khomeini and the like. She also learned a lot about what it’s like for Islamic women today. Brooks’ book is exceedingly well-done–she knows her Islamic lore and traces the origins of today’s practices back to Mohammed’s time. Personable and very readable, Brooks takes us through the women’s back door entrance of the Middle East for an unusual and provocative view.

This is about the hidden world of Islamic women.

LIKENESS SCALE:❤❤❤ (3.5 hearts rating)


Just like what the synopsis says this is about the hidden world of Islamic women. It is a book which is not shy to talk about genital female mutilation, honour killings and others. It gives foreigners a birds eye view of how women live in Islam countries. Every Islam country is different which made it a very different reading experience. Also, it is non-ficiton and based on the authors personal research which makes it very authentic. The book is made by Geraldine Brooks who is a Jew and Australian. But despite this, she was able to do this book because of her job as a journalist. All in all, the book is full of facts that my description would not be enough to describe the book. It is best to read the book to better understand it.


I noticed that this book highlights how extreme a belief can affect a life of a person. In this book, women are greatly affected by Islam. Different interpretations were made of the Koran which made everything complicated. Most of this complications made life hard. Somehow the people who were affected had a hard time adjusting to life outside their countries. Reading this was like watching a documentary in the TV. The writing style was so straight forward that facts and events were just plainly written for you to read. I enjoyed this style because its message was so clear.


I never thought that the Koran was interpreted in many different ways just like the Bible. Mohammed first wife is a wealthy merchant who helped him spread the word of Allah. He respects women and even if he has lots of wives, he has a day for each of them. But his household was in chaos because he was poor which made the wives bicker each other. He was like any husband who needs to support his family.

It also surprised me that honour killings were made because of breaking the law. Laws like an unmarried woman and man should not be together were usually the source of honour killings. It hurts me that they would uphold their honour more than family. I never thought that female genital mutilation was connected to beliefs from Islam.


A lot of things confused me. I really can’t describe this book well because a lot of issues confuse me. Issues on why men are allowed to have other wives and the first wife can’t say no to it. However, they also have arrange marriages where the wife and husband don’t meet each other. They have lots of rules which restrict the female gender. (maybe I’m being biased because I’m female.) Sometime females would be better than males and vice versa but still would it not be better to just slacken there rules on females. However, this would not be easily done because most of their rules are based on religious beliefs. Maybe I’m really confused because I’m a foreigner but as a human I think some of their rules are just too extreme .


I learned that beliefs could affect our thinking. Also, that women are subjected to different kinds of torture. It could be either physical or emotional. It saddens me that this is happening. Somehow, this book made me more open minded. It reminded me that there will always be a cause to an effect. This book really challenged my beliefs. It made me reflect and be thankful that I am gifted with freedom of choice. I really learned a lot from this book, it’s just I’m over whelmed because of its enormity.


This book helped me understand how, why and what Islam women experience. It gave me a little glimpse on how they conduct their lives despite the restrictions.  I admire some ladies which were mentioned. The wives of Mohammed helped him spread Islam. They were his financiers, healers and lovers. Despite sharing him, they worked for his goal which is to spread Islam. This book has made me realise that I really don’t know anything about other cultures. It has encouraged me to read more diverse books.


Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women by Geraldine Brooks is a book which should be approached with an open mind and heart.  I have an uncle who gave up reading it because he just could not handle it. I think he just did not have enough patience and want to understand Islam culture. It is a book which needs to be digested slowly to understand it fully. I read this book on an eight hour airplane flight and it did not bore me. I was very curious to know their culture. I psyched myself that there would always be a reason on why do their punishments. It was written well that my 8 hour flight was not felt that much. Sometimes, I would stop because of information overload but I strived to finish it, which I did. I gave this book a 3.5 hearts rating because it was written well, I just wished it had a more concluded ending. This was my first non-fiction book on Islam culture. It was very insightful and full of facts. I enjoyed the people in the book. Their ideologies, beliefs may differ but still they have Islam as common ground. All in all, I enjoyed the reading experience I just wished for more but a good book will always end one way or another.


“The drill sergeants learned that lavishly praising recruits who got it right worked better than abusing those who got it wrong. The women had been raised to please, Tracy Borum discovered,”
― Geraldine Brooks, Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women

“women had been sent back home, to manufacture male babies and avoid waste in household expenditures.”
― Geraldine Brooks, Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women

“In either culture, women somehow managed to get the wrong end of the stick. Women bear the brunt of fending off social disorder in the Catholic”
― Geraldine Brooks, Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women

“She must not speak in a delicate tone. This is from the Koran. Things begun with a few words will continue to other things.”
― Geraldine Brooks, Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women

“trouble is, these people don’t understand their own culture,”
― Geraldine Brooks, Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women


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