The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger

75%

31 Critic Reviews

... the most remarkable accomplishment of this hugely satisfying novel is Freudenberger's subtle exploration of the stage of adulthood at the heart of "The Newlyweds," and all the compromises with selfhood those early years of love and marriage entail.
-LA Times

Synopsis

A powerful, funny, richly observed tour de force by one of America’s most acclaimed young writers: a story of love and marriage, secrets and betrayals, that takes us from the backyards of America to the back alleys and villages of Bangladesh.
In The Newlyweds, we follow the story of Amina Mazid, who at age twenty-four moves from Bangladesh to Rochester, New York, for love. A hundred years ago, Amina would have been called a mail-order bride. But this is an arranged marriage for the twenty-first century: Amina is wooed by—and woos—George Stillman online. 
For Amina, George offers a chance for a new life and a different kind of happiness than she might find back home. For George, Amina is a woman who doesn’t play games. But each of them is hiding something: someone from the past they thought they could leave behind. It is only when they put an ocean between them—and Amina returns to Bangladesh—that she and George find out if their secrets will tear them apart, or if they can build a future together.
The Newlyweds is a surprising, suspenseful story about the exhilarations—and real-life complications—of getting, and staying, married. It stretches across continents, generations, and plains of emotion. What has always set Nell Freudenberger apart is the sly, gimlet eye she turns on collisions of all kinds—sexual, cultural, familial. With The Newlyweds, she has found her perfect subject for that vision, and characters to match. She reveals Amina’s heart and mind, capturing both her new American reality and the home she cannot forget, with seamless authenticity, empathy, and grace. At once revelatory and affecting, The Newlyweds is a stunning achievement.

 

About Nell Freudenberger

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Nell Freudenberger is the author of the novel The Dissident and the story collection Lucky Girls, winner of the PEN/Malamud Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; both books were New York Times Book Review Notables. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award, and a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellowship from the New York Public Library, she was named one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists and one of The New Yorker's "20 Under 40." She lives in Brooklyn with her family.
 
Published May 1, 2012 by Vintage. 354 pages
Genres: Other, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Newlyweds
All: 31 | Positive: 22 | Negative: 9

Kirkus

Below average
Apr 15 2012

Freudenberger’s tone is detached and cool throughout, even when violent incidents are described, which makes it difficult to emotionally engage with the story. The novel is carefully researched rather than emotionally persuasive.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Mohsin Hamid on Apr 26 2012

At moments the truthlikeness of “The Newlyweds” falters, when its perspectives seem to belong more properly to its author than to Amina.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Apr 24 2012

... a genuinely moving story about a woman trying to negotiate two cultures, balancing her parents’ expectations with her own aspirations, her ambition and cynical practicality with deeper, more romantic yearnings.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Laura Miller on Aug 09 2012

It's the sort of novel you admire even as you admit you aren't especially curious to know what happens next.

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Publishers Weekly

Below average
Mar 05 2012

...Amina’s passivity may frustrate many readers, and George is a complete cipher. In the end, Freudenberg’s anatomy of a modern arranged marriage is somewhat too dependent on cultural clichés to entirely satisfy.

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WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by Sam Sacks on Apr 27 2012

it is a particular pity that her lucid writing and fine sense of behavioral nuance are put to use in such a low-stakes, dragging story. A novel that doesn't find some way to carry the reader from scene to scene can never be loved, but can, like "The Newlyweds," be appreciated intellectually—with a dutiful reading.

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NPR

Excellent
Reviewed by Heller McAlper on May 03 2012

Yet it remains oddly captivating despite its emotionally muted key: Amina is a terrifically sympathetic character, and you want to know where Freudenberger is going with her story.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan on May 01 2012

...The Newlyweds is so much more than a "lost in translation" romp: There are soulful depths to the sociology.

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Book Reporter

Excellent
Reviewed by Norah Piehl on May 04 2012

THE NEWLYWEDS is bound to spark discussion --- about culture, assimilation, honesty and relationships --- just as Amina's clever voice and straightforward desires are bound to spark readers' sympathies.

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AV Club

Below average
Reviewed by Ellen Wernecke on May 14 2012

George’s own motives are fuzzier; his platitudes about wanting a more “practical” woman are one of the few chunks of backstory that doesn’t feel gratuitous in Freudenberger’s hurry to fill out all the details of their world.

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LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Jane Ciabattari on Jun 03 2012

... the most remarkable accomplishment of this hugely satisfying novel is Freudenberger's subtle exploration of the stage of adulthood at the heart of "The Newlyweds," and all the compromises with selfhood those early years of love and marriage entail.

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Entertainment Weekly

Excellent
Reviewed by Lisa Schwarzbaum on Apr 26 2012

Freudenberger moves gracefully between South Asian fantasies of American life and the realities of bone-cold, snow-prone upstate New York — and turns the coming together of newlyweds Amina and George into a readers' banquet.

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The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Ron Charles on Apr 24 2012

“The Newlyweds” is a delight, one of the easiest book recommendations of the year.

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by Kunal Dutta on Aug 05 2012

But what this book does so well is articulate the challenges of mixed marriages in the digital age.

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The Telegraph

Excellent
Reviewed by Catherine Taylor on Aug 02 2012

Freudenberger’s depiction of Bangladesh, the interlocking of country and society, is uncanny...the richness and restraint displayed here recall Vikram Seth’s epic of pragmatism, A Suitable Boy.

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The Telegraph

Below average
Reviewed by Tim Martin on Aug 02 2012

Freudenberger has more to get her teeth into in the Bangladesh sections, but she’s never totally successful at turning Amina's story...into one about action.

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USA Today

Excellent
Reviewed by Carmela Ciuraru on May 27 2012

It's funny, gracefully written and full of loneliness and yearning. It's also a candid, recognizable story about love — the real-life kind, which is often hard and sustained by hope, kindness and pure effort.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Amanda Holmes Duffy

The Newlyweds is the sort of novel you try to enjoy slowly because you don’t want to leave its atmosphere. When you finish, you’ll want to read everything else by this wonderful author.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Below average
Reviewed by Polly Rosenwaike on May 06 2012

... the very thoroughness of her knowledge of her characters' worlds - have a wearying effect. The novel's accumulation of pages, rather than deepening my investment in the story, pulled me farther away from it.

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Oregon Live

Excellent
Reviewed by Natalie Serber on Apr 28 2012

Freudenberger is one of the wunderkind, praised by The New Yorker, and her prose proves her to be worthy...The novel is suspenseful and surprising, fully realized, and I found that when I had to set it aside, I was pining to get back.

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Portland Book Review

Excellent
Reviewed by Laura Di Giovine on Aug 06 2012

Freudenberger weaves a witty and, at times, heartbreaking tale of love, loss and hope, and readers will relish this clever examination of immigration and married life.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Apr 25 2012

...Ms. Freudenberger captures...Amina's confusion, her sense of being caught between two cultures, of having become someone who is regarded as an outsider in both her new adopted country and the country she still thinks of as home.

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Time Out New York

Excellent
Reviewed by Allison Williams on May 23 2012

Freudenberger’s central couple are more than well-crafted characters; they shimmer with believability and self-contradicting nuance.

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Fiction Writers Review

Excellent
Reviewed by Charlotte Boulay on Apr 30 2012

The Newlyweds delivers both a cautionary tale about the failure of imagination, and a monument to its power. It argues that in a country built by immigrants, and fueled by dreams, only the difficult work of understanding each other can save us.

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Elle

Excellent
Reviewed by Louisa Kamps on May 01 2012

Freudenberger, a deliciously precise and perceptive writer, loosely based Amina on a woman she met on an airplane...we can only be glad they struck up what must have been a helluva conversation.

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More

Excellent
Reviewed by Meg Wolitzer on May 01 2012

Amina and George may have a complicated connection, but Newlyweds is an unambiguous success.

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The Spectator

Excellent
Reviewed by Matthew Richardson on Aug 14 2012

Stories are invented, disproved, lived and shattered. But this impressive and rewarding novel attests to the deep human need for them nonetheless.

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S. Krishna's Books

Good
Reviewed by Swapna Krishna on May 23 2012

This is a quiet novel that speaks in whispers, in hushed tones that contain incisive observations and profound thoughts. It’s not about explosive revelations or twists and turns; instead, it’s about subtlety.

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Of Books and Reading

Good
Jul 16 2012

The Newlyweds is a love story, a story of alienation, a story of wanting it all and sometimes not getting it all...A great read for sure.

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Cannonball Read IV

Below average
Jul 10 2012

We are given the makings of a fascinating exploration of relationships and culture clash which, alas, is never realized...By the time the story ended, I was thoroughly disinterested in Amina’s marriage.

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bigWOWO

Good
Jun 10 2012

Nell Freudenberger clearly knows how to carry a story. It was really hard to put down this book.

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Reader Rating for The Newlyweds
69%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 356 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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