Avid reader, part time gamer. I read and review books for other readers, not for authors. I review mostly M/M books, so if that doesn't float your boat, well, there are other boats in the sea, other reviewers in this great blogosphere!
Thanks to Barbara's post, I spent some time browsing the comments on the Anne Rice Amazon petition. And I found this from author Sherry Jones:
When I read this, my first reaction was "God that's awful if that actually happened!" With that thought I decided to find out if it was true, because if true surely Amazon should have called the police by now. Granted, the offending posts could have been deleted, but someone else said that's nearly impossible so let's assume they were not.
I did find some controversy about the author. Originally she had a publishing deal with Random House, galleys got sent out in advance of the release and there was drama. A professor from the University of Texas contacted Random House to say that publishing the book might incite violence from Muslim extremists and said some pretty harsh things about it. Random House dropped the book. Then Gibson Square in the UK decided to publish it and shortly after the home of someone who worked for the publisher was firebombed. Though I could find no evidence that it was because they picked up the book, it was suspected at the time. Three men were arrested and went to jail, the publisher decided to drop the book. It was finally published in the US by Beaufort Books, who has a history of publishing controversial books (like O.J. Simpsons's If I did It).
Now let's move on to the Amazon reviews that the author says contain "malicious insults" and "death threats."
Total 1 star reviews: 10
Reviews from Real Name Reviewers: 5
Amazon Verified Purchases: 2
In reading every single one of these 10 reviews, all of them strictly contain criticisms of the book itself or the author as a writer. Some highlights:
"Aisha seems to be a fancy of the author... Laughable, childish, full of lies and fantasies, disgusting most of the time... provokes anger, tests your patience if you are a Muslim... Or if you do not have any understanding of History of Muslims, you may enjoy it"
"This book is full of lies, Sherry Jones does not have any idea about the history of Islam" - this was the closest I could find to a "malicious insult"
"The truth is that this novel is far from a legitimate work of historical fiction. If Jones stood behind her claims that Jewel of Medina is a work of fiction, not possessing actual historical accuracy, then the offense taken to it would be greatly diminished."
"This book, which Jones believes to be the literary portrayal of a `heroine' is, by Islamic standards, the portrayal of a character steeped in indecency and immorality."
"The Muslim world flipped its collective lid over a few childish and self-evidently innocuous cartoons, so Jones sets out to write a torpid romance novel involving a NINE-YEAR OLD BRIDE TO A 35-YEAR OLD FOUNDER OF A WORLD RELIGION!
Shameless sensationalism and exploitation of controversy. That's all this piece of bilge is."
"In the aftermath of 9/11, renewed interest in Islam and its founder Prophet Muhammad has spurred authors like Jones to fabricate their own versions of a faith about which they lack knowledge. To obscure her lack of complete understanding about Islam, Jones has conveniently chosen to garb her attempt as a piece of historical `fiction'!"
"Ms. Jones presents to us what amounts to a veiled Harlequin Romance novel about a prophet of God, wrapped in the face of innocence. From beginning to end, the fulcrum is sex, and these imagined encounters and innuendo never cease."
"Several sections and events are purely fictional and entirely made up. The author did not take the time to do any basic research into the subject."
Yes some of these reviews are very critical of the author, but I failed to find any malicious intent or death threats. Most of these reviewers are so thoughtful and put together I know authors who would kill to get them.
Total 2 Star Reviews: 8
Reviews from Real Name Reviewers: 2
Amazon Verified Purchases: 1
Again, I fail to find anything malicious, insulting, or a single death threat. But some highlights.
"Muslims, if they get it right, can use the publication of this book as a platform to educate people about the characters who are so much a part of their lives and as a starting point to really teach non-Muslims about the life of `Aisha, who was a woman far more fascinating that Jones was able to portray."
"I interviewed the author and I genuinely believe she had good intentions, and just didn't-quite-get-it."
"It seems as though Jones cannot quite manage to divorce herself from western mentality and put herself in the shoes of a woman who lived in a very different time and place."
"It romanticizes child rape and turns the victim into a martyr for a 'cause'. It also suggests the child bride was having affairs!" - Harsh, but the girl was 6 when she was betrothed to Muhammed and was 9 when the marriage was conummated.
"I tried to figure out what the fuss is all about. The book seems to be quite respectful of Muhammad. It doesn't even criticize some of his violent actions,"
"Read the book - but follow it up by then reading some of Jones' reference material. This is a great story that deserves to be told - unfortunately Sherry Jones isn't the author to tell it."
"For a story in which the protagonist begins her tale as a pre-pubescent female forced into marriage with a much older man, the book develops little empathy for or understanding of A'isha's plight."
"If you want to weigh in on the controversy by all means go ahead and buy the book, just don't have high expectations for an enlightening, engaging read."
"The Jewel of Medina disapointed me because its protagonist spent most of the book being either annoying or vicimized--oftem both at once!"
Oh the horror! I feel victimized just reading these awful reviews! /sarcasm
How there are some discussion posts about this book too. So I thought it only fair to investigate those since they seemed more harsh and maybe the author doesn't know the difference in reviews and discussion posts. Yes there was one person who seemed to perhaps some close to the line with threats by suggesting use of "any available means" to punish the book. But those posts were quickly deleted and most of the other posters came to the author's defense to write any book she wishes, no matter how ill-formed or offensive it might be. Also those posts were from 2009.
Sorry Sherry Jones, your story is crap.
Edited to add screenshots of the author's messages to me on Twitter today:
And a few that weren't connected to the same convo thread: