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The Newlyweds | [Nell Freudenberger]

The Newlyweds

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2012 Nell Freudenberger (P)2012 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

“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)

“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)

“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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (190 )
5 star
 (44)
4 star
 (91)
3 star
 (44)
2 star
 (8)
1 star
 (3)
Overall
3.8 (169 )
5 star
 (34)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
 (11)
1 star
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Story
4.3 (170 )
5 star
 (69)
4 star
 (79)
3 star
 (19)
2 star
 (2)
1 star
 (1)
Performance
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  •  
    Linda Los Angeles, CA, United States 05-19-12
    Linda Los Angeles, CA, United States 05-19-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
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    5
    1
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    "You run into yourself in the darndest places"

    I am a middle class white lady with a most ordinary middle class white life behind me, and yet I found myself utterly landed in the experience of this young Bengaladeshi woman uprooted to an American marriage in Rochester New York. Almost nothing that happens in this book has ever happened to me, and yet it all seemed startlingly recognizable. I have not read Nell Freudenberger before but now I will seek out more of her books.
    I liked the reading by Mozhan Marno: she kept it straightforward and simple and slipped easily into the gentle lilt of Bengaladeshi accents when called for.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda Phoenix, AZ, United States 05-11-12
    Amanda Phoenix, AZ, United States 05-11-12 Member Since 2010

    I rate as follows: 5 Stars = Loved it. 4 Stars = Really liked it. 3 Stars = Liked it. 2 Stars = Didn't like it. 1 Star = Hated it.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1976
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    Story
    "The Gap Between New Beginings and Fresh Starts"

    A passage from the book "The Little Minister" by James Matthew Barrie (best known as the author of Peter Pan) reads:

    "“The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.”

    I can only wonder if Nell Freudenberger is a fan of Mr. Barrie's works.

    Amina and George both have dreams and goals, but it's not entirely clear (to either the reader or the characters) if they have set their goals based on their dreams, or if they built their dreams based off their goals. The stark difference between these two possibilities is the bedrock of the novel.

    Did Amina move to America because she wanted to marry George, or did she want to marry George to move to America? Does George want to have children with Amina, or did he propose to Amina because he wanted children? The story will resonate with a lot of people; because for many of us, life is much like the snow that piles up outside George and Amina's Rochester home. Each individual flake - and decision - seem small and inconsequential; but they soon pile up, freeze together, and take on a form and shape that may be unanticipated and difficult to move.

    People often wish for a "Fresh start" or a "Clean slate"; but beginning a new chapter in one's life doesn't erase what's come before it. This novel spans the first three years of the couple's marriage, and examines how George, Amina, and their loved ones react to this realization.

    Highly recommended.

    18 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda J. Westerschulte Los Angeles 05-19-12
    Linda J. Westerschulte Los Angeles 05-19-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    46
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    225
    18
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    FOLLOWING
    1
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "You run into yourself in the darndest places"

    I am a middle class white lady with a most ordinary middle class white life behind me, and yet I found myself utterly landed in the experience of this young Bengaladeshi woman uprooted to an American marriage in Rochester New York. Almost nothing that happens in this book has ever happened to me, and yet it all seemed startlingly recognizable. I have not read Nell Freudenberger before but now I will seek out more of her books.
    I liked the reading by Mozhan Marno: she kept it straightforward and simple and slipped easily into the gentle lilt of Bengaladeshi accents when called for.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret CHILOQUIN, OR, United States 08-07-12
    Margaret CHILOQUIN, OR, United States 08-07-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
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    74
    28
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    2
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    Story
    "Cultural Kick in the Pants"

    I was often irritated by choices the characters made, by their apparent flaws and expectations. At the same time the story made me think how much our cultural and family background influences those thoughts and responses. Best of all, I liked how the characters, in the end, sacrificed and changed to create a different (better?) life for themselves.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 09-18-12
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 09-18-12 Member Since 2003

    glam

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Warning: may contain extended detours"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I'd only recommend this book to someone interested in immigration, and in the cultural features of North America as compared to the characteristics of family life in Bangladesh and growing up "Deshi". This book is NOT about being newlyweds, nor even being newlyweds from different cultures and backgrounds. It's more of a sociological study of the immigration process and the importance of family. The characters were representatives of their respective cultures, rather than relatable and interactive.The cover poses two birds facing each other, as if to symbolize the character disconnect between George and Amina - I haven't yet divined what species the yellow bird is - mostly because I lost my initial interest and temporarily stopped reading - but it would seem to connote a solid, play-by-the-rules guy (George) pitted against a flamboyant, and intuitive free spirit like Amina.This is what I initially thought the book would be about, but instead it's more about the interplay of Asian/Eastern vs. North American cultures.


    Has The Newlyweds turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, it has not, but I would want to consider more carefully books relating to cultural fusion, and I'd want to make sure the stories are character-driven and not simply sociological studies where it's difficult to establish one or two compelling plot lines. I'd prefer that a small selection of characters take central stage, with the cultural ambience as a backdrop, as a context, rather than the other way around. The long diversions and detours in the central plot line leaves very little time/space to develop the characters as relatable and as individuals to whom the reader wants to return after putting the book down.


    What does Mozhan Marno bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Her narration is excellent. She brings a Bangladeshi lilt to the conversations, where appropriate, and gradually Americanizes Amina's accent and idiomatic expressions as Amina spends more time in Rochester. She also manages the speech tones and patterns of George, Amina's fiancé/husband, whose flat, unadorned and by implication pragmatic tones are a perfect contrast to the voice of Amina.


    Could you see The Newlyweds being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    I think this would sell as a movie; the planet is expanding daily, and cross-cultural stories are popular now. Penelope Cruz or even Kate Winslet would work for Amina, and Matt Damon would be perfect as George, though I'd love to see what irony and poker-faced humor Kevin Spacey would bring to the George character. Frances McDormand (with dark hair) would be ideal as Amina's Bangladeshi mom


    Any additional comments?

    Just more of the same as above: the cultural digressions (at least I see the immigration stories of Amina's parents as a digression) crowded out the character development and portrayal of the conflicts in the "main" relationship between Amina and George.Added note: I usually write unstructured reviews, but decided to try the guided version for this book.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca L. Barbacci Maplewood, NJ, USA 03-04-13
    Rebecca L. Barbacci Maplewood, NJ, USA 03-04-13

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    4
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    1
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    "Good story, great performance!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I really enjoyed listening to this book! The story was really good, and the performance was excellent!


    What other book might you compare The Newlyweds to and why?

    The Namesake, Kabul Beauty School


    What does Mozhan Marno bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The accents and mannerisms of each character!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr. Lake Oswego, OR, United States 09-20-12
    Dr. Lake Oswego, OR, United States 09-20-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Amina Comes to America"

    The title and cover page picture seem utterly unrelated to the actual content of this story. This is a story about Amina - a young woman from Bangladesh. Her American husband, George, is just a prop to tell Amina's story. A thoughtful, beautifully written, and insightful story, as a reader you are swept up in Amina's sense of hope, her naivete, and, ultimately, her simplicity. She is not a woman of guile or deceit. Just a poor woman looking for a better life who ends up on the other side of the world.

    To the extent that you are looking for something big or exciting to happen, this is not the book for you. It is a simple story about relatively simple characters. Although I confess to wishing there was a little more depth to the story and more exploration of Amina's and George's cross cultural experiment, I was never disappointed by the wonderful writing and the excellent narration.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin MADISON, WI, United States 03-08-13
    Robin MADISON, WI, United States 03-08-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    101
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    95
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    16
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    "Surprisingly captivating!"

    I got this because it had good reviews in the press in general but wasn't in a hurry to listen to it. Once I started I was hooked. I liked the characters and the whole idea of the different cultures. I think the narrator did an excellent job with the various voices and accents.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katherine RIVERSIDE, CA, United States 01-29-13
    Katherine RIVERSIDE, CA, United States 01-29-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    10
    10
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    0
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    "Hard to relate to the story"

    The Newlyweds is the story of a mail order bride who meets her husband online and ends up in the U.S., where she has a difficult time adjusting to the culture. All in all, it was an OK experience but it was hard to relate to Amina and her decisions at the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erin United States 01-21-13
    Erin United States 01-21-13 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    4
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    Performance
    Story
    "New Take on Tradition"

    My Review:
    The only reason this one is getting docked a star is due to the pacing. At times I found myself wanting the next plot point to show up. I also didn’t buy the suspense – George’s secret was a little obvious, in my opinion. When the big reveal occurred, I wasn’t satisfied and felt irritated that the mystery was so easy to guess. Amina’s past resurrects itself with more subtlety and nuance.

    Freudenberger has written a brilliantly complex and driven heroine with Amina. Her past, present, and future are multi-dimensional entities in which we, the reader, operate. Initially, I chalked her up to a “fish out of water” housewife – the language and cultural barriers were cute, but they were just a soft introduction. Amina is a little out of her element in America, but don’t mistake modesty for meekness. When she returns to Bangladesh, we see her really operate with confidence and cunning.

    The Newlyweds also provides an opportunity to see what happens when the traditions of two cultures must coexist. Amina’s “fish out of water” moments provide some comic relief, but there’s a much deeper current. Both George and Amina made the ultimate commitment, each expecting the other to compromise certain elements of their lives together. For Amina, this expectation is more an unintentional awareness of American values and norms; George seems inconsiderate in his expectation or disregard.


    The Bottom Line:
    The Newlyweds offers a new take on an old institution.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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