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The Newlyweds Paperback – 28 Mar 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (28 Mar 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241966140
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241966143
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 321,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Genuinely moving . . . Freudenberger demonstrates her assurance as a novelist and her knowledge of the complicated arithmetic of familial love, and the mathematics of romantic passion (The New York Times)

It's really, really good...A luscious and intelligent novel that will stick with you (National Public Radio)

A convincing and rather compelling story of a very modern marriage and a real heroine to root for (Daily Mail)

A delight, one of the easiest book recommendations of the year . . . Freudenberger knows Amina as well as Jane Austen knows Emma, and despite its globe-spanning set changes, The Newlyweds offers a reading experience redolent of Janeite charms: gentle touches of social satire, subtly drawn characters and dialogue that expresses far more than its polite surface (Washington Post)

Took off like a rocket, taking me with it (The Times)

A big, complicated portrait of marriage, culture, family, and love. Freudenberger never settles for an easy answer, and what she delivers is a story that feels absolutely true. Every minute I was away from this book I was longing to be back in the world she created (Ann Patchett, author of 'State of Wonder')

A wonderful, funny, inventive novel that takes you slowly by surprise the more you read. Highly recommended (Red (Book of the Month))

The intrigue and small disappointments of marriage are painstakingly captured. (Psychologies)

A Fresh and modern look at relationships, told with heart. (Elle)

A charming and serious tale of marriage, family and identity. Its prose style is intimate, almost conspiratorial... threading its arm around the reader confidently. The writing is clear and spare... yet Freudenberger's investigation into what makes relationships work... is complex and sophisticated... Freudenberger approaches her subject with great sensitivity, a heavy sense of the seriousness of life - and much wry humour. (Independent on Sunday)

There are some piercing cultural observations... the chapters zip along with purpose and the novel flits effortlessly between the false intimacy of suburban America and the closely knit gossipy communities of Dhaka (Independent)

A powerful sense of empathy, of being able to imagine what it is to be soemone else, to feel what someone else feels (Mohsin Hamid)

This classic tale of missed chances, crushing errors of judgment, and scarring sacrifices, all compounded by cultural differences, is perfectly pitched, piercingly funny, and exquisitely heartbreaking (Booklist starred review)

Wise, timely, ripe with humour and complexity, The Newlyweds is one of the most believable love stories of our young century (Gary Shteyngart, author of 'Super Sad True Love Story')

That Amina and George manage to muddle though the first years of marriage is a testament to the power of love and respect; that we care about them all the way through says as much about Freudenberger's keen observations and generous heart (O, The Oprah Magazine)

Freudenberger, a deliciously precise and perceptive writer, loosely based Amina on a woman she met on an airplane, and when she describes Amina's recognition 'that the permanent part of your own experience' is largely an illusion, we can only be glad they struck up what must have been a helluva conversation (Elle Magazine)

Dazzling (Entertainment Weekly)

The Newlyweds is about all sorts of complex relationships: between parents and children; with first loves; with the places we depart and those we adopt...Freudenberger does an especially lovely job creating Amina's worlds - her emotional terrain, her wonder and bewliderment (Seattle Times)

Exceptional...here is an honest depiction of life as most people actually live it: Americans and Asians, Christians and Muslims, liberals and conservatives. Freudenberger writes with a cultural fluency that is remarkable and a prose that is clean, intelligent, and very witty (David Bezmozgis, author of 'The Free World')

A true triumph...Freudenberger's masterful prose makes comprehensible how someone can become a stranger in two places at once (Richard Ford New York Observer)

Prose as warm and refreshing as a Californian morning (Evening Standard)

Like Lahiri, Franzen and Eugenides, Freudenberger excels at chronicling her characters' emotional lives and world views (San Francisco Chronicle)

Captivating (Boston Globe)

About the Author

Nell Freudenberger is the author of the novel The Dissident (longlisted for the Orange Prize) and the story collection Lucky Girls, winner of the PEN/Malamud Award and shortlisted for the Orange New Writers' Prize and a New York Times Book Review Notable Book. She was named a New Yorker '20 Under 40' writer and one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Tamara L on 25 Sep 2012
Format: Paperback
The Newlyweds is a cross-cultural love affair but not a romantic novel by any stretch of the imagination. It's more about misconceptions, misunderstandings and accommodations that come with relationships, compounded many times over when people come together from different backgrounds and with conflicting expectations. Amina emigrates to America to marry George, who she met on an online dating forum. Her plan is to bring her parents over as soon as she gains citizenship and becomes legally eligible and she can hardly envisage a life without them. Of course George, as a modern American husband, doesn't relish the idea of living with his in-laws and is reluctant to make the financial and other sacrifices it will take to bring it about. Further complications ensue when she discovers that George hasn't been entirely honest with her, and their relationship is tested by a number of setbacks, not least Amina's difficulty in conceiving.

It takes a brave writer to take on the persona of someone from another culture, ethnicity and religion and claim authenticity for their voice. I think Nell Freudenberger has pulled it off. No doubt there will be commentators with closer knowledge of Bangladesh who might pick holes in some of the details but her portrayal of Amina is convincing. This is a real flesh and blood character with heart and soul and the background is well-researched and avoids stereotypes.

I was surprised to see (at the time of writing) only one other five star review. For me this is first class writing and full of warmth and compassion for human frailty. Her tone reminds me a little of Anne Tyler, and the caught between two cultures - and two alternate futures - aspect of it was a little reminiscent of Colm Tobin's wonderful Brooklyn where Eilis faces a similar dilemma.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Susie B TOP 50 REVIEWER on 23 Mar 2013
Format: Paperback
Amina Mazid is an attractive, naïve twenty-four-year-old, living in Bangladesh with her parents and looking for a husband; however, apart from a teenage crush on the handsome Nasir, a close family friend, who is like a cousin to her, she has been unable to find the right man; that is until she joins an Asian-European online dating site and meets George Stillman, who is ten years her senior and lives in Rochester, USA. George, sensible, reserved and dependable, is looking for someone of a similar temperament and, after several months of online courtship, he decides Amina is what he is looking for. So, eleven months after their first contact, Amina arrives in America and the two of them marry soon afterwards - although not in a Muslim ceremony as George had initially promised.

As Amina tries hard to settle down in a strange country, she finds it tiring juggling work with her studies and with keeping house, but she also finds it difficult being fully intimate with a man who, although seemingly kind, has certain expectations of her and of their life together. And then Amina wants to bring her parents to the USA, but George seems rather less than enthusiastic about this plan now she is actually in America, which causes a lot of worry and heartache for her. Amina finds solace in her growing friendship with Kim, George's adopted cousin, a yoga instructor, who has lived in India and was married to an Indian man. However, when Amina discovers that Kim has been hiding a secret from her, a secret that deeply affects Amina, she feels shocked and betrayed - but what is more shocking is that George has also been hiding something from her which makes her seriously question their future together.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By SusanP on 1 July 2013
Format: Paperback
Nell Freudenberger has clearly done her research but she really doesn't need to put every single fact into the book (do I really need to know the number and cost of US immigration forms?). She has created some believable characters, especially Amina, but too many seem to have no real part to play in the book or just confuse the story. OK real life is like that - random happenings with no real connection, life's rich tapestry and all that - but in fiction I'd expect more tying together into an overall theme. There are too many irrelevant details (such as Amina's possible job in a restaurant) which are presented then never mentioned again. Also plot lines which seem unnecessary or unresolved - Kim's marriage to Ashok; George's real motivation in marrying Amina; Nasir's flirtation with radical Islam; the family feud; and an episode where Amina searches out Nasir's supposed love interest. There is a good book in here somewhere but it is completely lost in irrelevant and irritating background material which just raises questions. If you want to understand the culture try A Suitable Boy, or even A Passage to India. Or anything by Rohinton Mistry. (Mostly about India not Bangladesh, of course, perhaps the Deshi equivalent is still to be written.)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sue Kichenside TOP 500 REVIEWER on 18 Oct 2012
Format: Paperback
Actually this is not so much the portrait of a marriage, more the portrait of a new life. Amina, an only child, has left her beloved parents in Bangladesh to take a giant leap into the unknown. An unknown man, an unknown country, an unknown and uncertain future. On an online dating site, an email relationship has developed between her and George who lives in Rochester, USA. For Bangladeshis, America is the promised land and Amina's parents encourage this blossoming romance. The book opens with Amina adapting to life in a new country where her dream of citizenship, a career and motherhood will not be complete without her parents.

I agree with every aspect of Tamara L's wonderful review and could not put it better. The first two-thirds of the book, set in Rochester, definitely had echoes of Anne Tyler. This, to me, is a Very Fine Thing. The last part of the book is set in Bangladesh and the culture clash between the two locations provides a truly fascinating counterpoint.

Nell Freudenberger has written a fully three-dimensional and immensely likable character in the petite shape of Amina. Indeed, I would say that all the people in this warm, engaging book are recognisably `real', even those with small 'walk-on' parts. I did have one small fear that Amina's childhood friend Nasir was going to develop into some sort of violent extremist; I can't tell you how relieved I was that the author resisted the temptation to introduce conflict of that sort. Not only that, but she turned the character around to be one of the most sympathetic in the book. This was deft writing and I must own up to my eyes welling up at one point and a real lump in my throat.

I give The Newlyweds 4.
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