Book of the Week


Verena Wermuth: DIE VERBOTENE FRAU · Meine Jahre mit Scheich Khalid von Dubai

WOA · Zürich, 2007 · 320 pp
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Verena Wermuth

THE FORBIDDEN WIFE · My Years with Sheikh Khalid of Dubai

The bestseller sold more than 60,000 copies in Switzerland and for weeks it headed the Swiss bestseller list!

Sold to Portugal (trade & book-club)

The moving story of forbidden love – fascinating and exotic – like a story from the Arabian Nights.

The young Swiss girl Verena is in England to improve her English. There she meets the attractive and mysterious student Khalid. They fall in love, but from the very beginning their relationship seems doomed.

One day Khalid confesses to Verena that he is a member of one of the seven ruling families in the United Arab Emirates. He knows that his family would never accept Verena as his wife, as many years before it was decided that Khalid would one day marry his cousin.

But there is no obstacle strong enough to destroy Khalid’s and Verena’s love for each other. For the next ten years they meet in secret and try to give their relationship a chance. But the cultural differences, too, make themselves more and more apparent: in Switzerland Khalid feels like a stranger, and in the Arab world Verena is unable to conform to the way women are regarded in Arab society. Again and again they separate, but it seems impossible for them to make a final break.

This results in every separation being followed by a new meeting – in Greece, in Egypt, in the Emirates. And when Verena once again visits Khalid in his homeland, they decide to stand up for their love and put an end to the game of hide-and-seek. Khalid asks Verena to become his wife, and they are married by an imam.

It now seems as though nothing will stand in the way of their happiness, but before long new problems are lying in wait for them. Khalid’s family has begun to make preparations for his wedding – for he is still betrothed to his cousin.

This leaves Verena in the role of wife number two, which is something she cannot accept. She does not want to share Khalid with another wife, and she knows that she has no chance of happiness if she stays with him. So in the end she makes her final decision: to leave Khalid and the Emirates and to begin a new life in Switzerland.

For years after their separation Verena refused to have any contact with Khalid, who meanwhile had become an internationally successful businessman. Last year he sent her an email telling her that although there was no hope for their relationship, she was still the great love of his life.

Verena Wermuth was born in 1965, attended the College of Applied Arts in Zurich and trained as an interior decorator. Today she is married to a Swiss and lives near Zurich.

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