“A big, complicated portrait of marriage, culture, family, and love. . . . 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
“Riveting. [The Newlyweds] succeeds based on Freudenberger’s uncanny ability to feel her way inside Amina’s skin.” —Los Angeles Times
“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. . . . 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. . . . On either side of the world, making a marriage work demands casting off not just old lovers, but cherished fantasies about who we are. Whether these two alien lovebirds can—or should—do that is the question Freudenberger poses so beguilingly.” —The Washington Post
“A marvelous book.” —Kiran Desai, author of The Inheritance of Loss
“The relationship between reader and writer is always something of an arranged marriage, in the sense that the reader enters a stranger’s sensibility, hoping for the best. Amina and George may have a complicated connection, but Newlyweds is an unambiguous success.” —Meg Wolitzer, More
“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. . . . 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, The New York Times
“Parts of The Newlyweds might be about the learning curve faced by any freshly married couple. . . . Like writers such as Jhumpa Lahiri and Ha Jin, she deftly shows how strange the rituals of suburban America seem to an observant outsider.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Freudenberger’s central couple are more than well-crafted characters; they shimmer with believability and self-contradicting nuance. . . . Fluid and utterly confident.” —Time Out New York
“The Newlyweds is so much more than a ‘lost-in-translation’ romp: There are soulful depths to the sociology. . . . [A] luscious and intelligent novel that will stick with you. . . . Freudenberger keeps the wonderfulness coming.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR
“Freudenberger brings impressive attributes to bear in [The Newlyweds]: a powerful sense of empathy, of being able to imagine what it is to be someone else, to feel what someone else feels; an effective writing style that avoids drawing attention to itself; and an international sensibility, which allows her to write about places outside America not as peripheral—mere playgrounds for American characters—but as central to themselves.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Once in a while, you come across a novel with characters so rich and nuanced, and situations so pitch-perfect, that you forget you're reading fiction. The Newlyweds is that sort of novel. I was floored by it—captivated from beginning to end. And now that I'm done, I can’t stop thinking about it.” —J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Maine
“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
“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
“Freudenberger draws women's complex lives as brilliantly as Austen or Wharton or Woolf, and, with The Newlyweds, has given a performance of beauty and grace.” —Andrew Sean Greer, author of The Story of a Marriage
“Rich, wise, bighearted. . . . Freudenberger works with care and respect, giving a full voice to every Deshi aunt, American cousin, and passing employee at the Starbucks where Amina finds a job. 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.” —Entertainment Weekly, Grade: A
“A true triumph.” —The New York Observer
“Captivating. . . . This engaging story, with its page after page of effortless prose, ultimately offers up a deeper narrative.” —The Boston Globe
“Wise, timely, ripe with humor 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
“Amina’s determination, intelligence, and resilience make her a heroine for any culture and any time.” —Marie Claire
“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 in a prose that is clean, intelligent, and very witty.” —David Bezmozgis, author of The Free World
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.
The New York Times
…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.
The Washington Post
…truths are indeed present in this novelin 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.
The New York Times Book Review
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 e-mail–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 clichés to entirely satisfy. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (May)
Freudenberger (The Dissident, 2006, etc.) examines a marriage arranged via the Internet. They met on AsianEuro.com: Amina wanted to escape from her family's straitened circumstances in Bangladesh; George wanted someone who "did not play games, unlike some women he knew." So here she is, in the fall of 2005 in the suburbs of Rochester, N.Y., recently married, working in retail while she studies for a teaching certificate. Her husband seems nice, if a little fussy, but he hasn't said any more about converting to Islam as she promised her parents, and they haven't had a Muslim wedding yet either. More disconcerting than any of that, though, is Amina's sense that "she was a different person in Bangla than she was in English," and she's uncertain how to bridge the gulf between these two selves. She makes a much-needed friend in George's cousin Kim, who lived for a while in Bombay and was briefly married to an Indian. Kim understands more about Amina's background and her conflicts than anyone else in Rochester, so when it turns out that she and George have been hiding something important from Amina, it's doubly shattering. However, it does prompt George to agree to bring Amina's parents to America, and she goes to collect them in Bangladesh, where several old family conflicts flare anew. Freudenberger 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.