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 FreudenbergerSee more books from this Author
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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds | See more reviews from Kirkus
... 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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds | See more reviews from NY Times
...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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly
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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds | See more reviews from WSJ online
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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds | See more reviews from AV Club
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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
... 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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds | See more reviews from LA Times
“The Newlyweds” is a delight, one of the easiest book recommendations of the year.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
But what this book does so well is articulate the challenges of mixed marriages in the digital age.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
... 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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
...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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds | See more reviews from NY Times
Freudenberger’s central couple are more than well-crafted characters; they shimmer with believability and self-contradicting nuance.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
Amina and George may have a complicated connection, but Newlyweds is an unambiguous success.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
Stories are invented, disproved, lived and shattered. But this impressive and rewarding novel attests to the deep human need for them nonetheless.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
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.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
Nell Freudenberger clearly knows how to carry a story. It was really hard to put down this book.Read Full Review of The Newlyweds
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