Newlyweds (Freudenberger) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
The Newlyweds...gradually opens out into 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.... The Amina-Nasir relationship and Amina's relationship with her aging parents are the nucleus of this novel and reveal the contradictions deep within Amina's own heart. Unlike her synthetic partnership with George, these are real, complex, deeply felt connections that have both endured and changed over time, and in depicting them Ms. Freudenberger demonstrates her assurance as a novelist and her knowledge of the complicated arithmetic of familial love and the mathematics of romantic passion.
Michiko Kakutani - New York Times


[T]ruths are indeed present in this novel—in its cleareyed openness and compassion toward the world, in its nuanced and human representation of Muslim characters and their varying Islams, and in the under­standing and sympathy it displays for the nostalgia of migrants, which is to say for all human beings, even those who are born and die in the same town and travel only in time.
Mohsin Hammad - New York Times Book Review


[A] delight, one of the easiest book recommendations of the year.... The cross-cultural tensions and romance so well drawn here recall the pleasures of Monica Ali's Brick Lane and Helen Simonson's Major Pettigrew's Last Stand... [Freudenberger]'s that rare artist who speaks fluently from many different cultural perspectives, without preciousness or undue caution.... [She] 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.
Ron Charles - Washington Post


Captivating.... Freudenberger’s latest novel explores the unexpected consequences when two distinct cultures collide.... This engaging story, with its page after page of effortless prose, ultimately offers up a deeper narrative of the protagonist’s yearning.
S. Kirk Walsh - Boston Globe


The Newlyweds crosses continents, cultures and generations.... 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.
USA Today


The Newlyweds...[is] really, really good. As always, [Freudenberger] is fascinated by culture clash, here encapsulated in the marriage of a young woman from Bangladesh and an American engineer from Rochester, New York, who’s 10 years her senior.... [T]he novel, which roams in a twisting, lavish storyline between America and Bangladesh, explores the strong and sometimes disastrous pull of....earlier attachments. The Newlyweds also tackles the promise of America and the payment—practical and psychic—it demands of immigrants.... [A] luscious and intelligent novel that will stick with you... Freudenberger keep[s] the wonderfulness coming.
Maureen Corrigan - NPR


Freudenberger’s delicately observed second novel is another account of cross-cultural confusion in the tale of a Bangladeshi woman, 24-year-old Amina Mazid, who becomes the email-order bride of 34-year-old George Stillman, an electrical engineer in Rochester, N.Y. Arriving in snowy Rochester in 2005 is a culture shock for Amina, but within three years she has her green card, is married to George, and is taking college courses when not pulling espresso at Starbucks. Her marriage, though, has its problems. Sex is awkward, George loses his job, and Amina discovers something that makes her doubt his sincerity. She eventually returns to Bangladesh to bring her parents to the U.S., but a problem with her father’s visa keeps Amina there and forces her back into the morass of her extended family’s resentments and petty jealousies, all of which she’d hoped to escape in marriage. Add to her troubles an old suitor, Nasir, waiting not so patiently in the wings. Freudenberger (The Dissident) does an excellent job of portraying the plight of a young Muslim woman not totally comfortable in either of the worlds she inhabits. But 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 cliches to entirely satisfy.
Publishers Weekly


Mary is a serious lawyer, married with two kids, whose husband is a perennial mama's boy incapable of grocery shopping on his own. Mixed in with the trials and tribulations of the protagonists are humorous vignettes from the lives of some of their other friends and acquaintances—many of whom
Library Journal


Freudenberger (The Dissident, 2006, etc.) examines a marriage arranged via the Internet.... [She] does well in capturing the off-kilter feelings of a young woman in a country so unlike her birthplace, and the cultural differences prompt some enjoyably wry humor. The characters are all well drawn, if a trifle pallid, which points to a larger problem. 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. Well executed but a bit too obviously studied—more willed than felt.
Kirkus Reviews

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