married couple of museum designers try to work in an intolerant  culture


Joanna and Ev have been partners for ten years--in business and in love--when one of the only women in government in the Middle East invites their firm to design a children's museum in Riyadh. Jo sees a chance to solidify her reputation in the design world, and help Saudi girls along the way, in the venture. Her husband, however, has no desire to work in a vigorously policed society; he prefers to remain in his workshop, fashioning gadgets for museum displays. But Ev accedes to Jo's wishes. The process of bidding on the job soon throws their home office into chaos and challenges long-held assumptions about the value of their work--and marriage. If they get the job, will their partnership survive the strain?


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 "A contrast between Saudi and American ways that sets the stage for an engrossing exploration of personal and political issues."

--Kirkus Reviews


". . . an engaging story that not only examines its protagonist's beliefs and doubts, but also actively and compassionately challenges them."

--The BookLife Prize


"Jo, a driven executive isolated from even her closest loved ones by the certitude of her prejudices, finds herself competing in Saudi Arabia to design a museum. Convinced a win would at long last establish her reputation, Jo actually wins something much greater. And like Jo, readers will win deep insights not only into Saudi culture, but into themselves."

--KAREN ELLIOTT HOUSE, author of On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines--and Future


"The Contract begins as a take-charge American woman arrives in Saudi Arabia to chase a deal she hopes will bring international acclaim to her design company. She plows ahead despite the misgivings of those closest to her. That's what"s on the surface. Ah, but the undercurrents. Author Sheila Grinell takes readers deep as she explores titanic clashes of culture and personality."

--LINDA VALDEZ, author of Crossing the Line: A Marriage Across Borders


"Fascinating insights into the world of museum exhibits, the frustrations of American women doing business in Saudi Arabia, and the emotional mysteries of marriage. Characters are vivid and captivating, and creative plot twists keep the reader engrossed."

--ALESA LIGHTBOURNE, author of The Kurdish Bike