Book Review: The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger

Hello readers,

As you may remember, I won a book a few weeks ago. It was very exciting because I a) love books and b) REALLY love winning stuff.

Anyway, I’ve read the book and thought I’d review it for you.

jacket image for The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger - large version


So the story is basically this: Amina from Bangladesh meets George from America online. They get engaged, she moves to America and they marry. The book charts the ups and downs of their marriage, along with the cultural differences they encounter.
My thoughts
I came to this book with absolutely no expectations: I hadn’t chosen the book, it hadn’t been recommended to me and I hadn’t read anything about it. So it could’ve gone either way, really.
I really liked it. It was a sympathetic portrait both of Bangladeshi and American society and most of the characters were well thought out and allowed real engagement. Amina was especially well presented; despite never having been in a similar situation, I could really identify with her struggle between duty and desire, and the importance of family. George was a little less real for me, but perhaps this was intentional; we see everything through Amina’s eyes and she never really knows what George is thinking.
In terms of the plot, the story was interesting and progressed well. There were no jumps from scene to scene and the narrative flowed well. Occasionally, it felt like it could’ve been edited a bit more: there were sections that seemed to be the author saying “Ok, so now I’m going to be descriptive.” But on the whole, good.
I got really involved with the story, actually, and stayed up till 2am to finish it. I didn’t see the ending coming at all! (I won’t ruin it for you.) What I especially like is how both sides of each character (with the possible exception of George) were shown. As a reader, you can understand the motives for the character’s actions and why they didn’t necessarily do ‘the right thing’ all the time.
So to sum up, I would recommend this book. I finished it a couple of days ago, and I’m still thinking about it and working out the nuances of the plot. I think that this is a sign of a good book! There were a few loose ends that could’ve been tied up, and a few that I’m not sure were entirely useful, but maybe I just haven’t seen it from the right angle.
Would I recommend it? YES.

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