Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Book Review: The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger

Title: The Newlyweds
Author: Nell Freudenberger
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 335
Price: Rs 399
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary
Rating: 7/10
Format: Paperback

From the Back Cover:

Amina met George online. Within months she has left her home in Bangladesh and is living in George’s house in the American suburbs. Theirs is a very twenty-first-century union, forged from afar yet echoing the traditions of the arranged marriage.

But as Amina struggles to find her place in America, it becomes clear that neither she nor George have been entirely honest with each other. Both have brought to the marriage a secret - a vital, hidden part of themselves – which will reveal who they are and whether their future is together or an ocean apart.

My thoughts:

The first reason to read this book was its cover page. I loved it. The title appealed to me too; however, the book is not about ‘newlyweds’ in the strict sense of the word. The story has been narrated by Amina Mazid of the time when she considers herself a newlywed. She clarifies that usually a couple would be considered newlywed till their first anniversary, which is the time they need to settle down in their new life. But in her case, until the time her parents join her in America she would not be truly settled.

Her parents’ only child, Amina wants to get away from her circumstances. Hailing from Bangladesh, her childhood and growing up years were difficult. She even had to drop out of school because the money was scarce. George, who is from America, embodies her chance to escape from the bleak future she foresees for herself in Bangladesh.   

Both Amina and George find their own reasons to believe that they would complement each other in marriage, but when they actually begin their journey, there are a few surprises in store. The book surely reflects the reality of an arranged marriage well. People keep their best foot forward; and when they actually start living together, the reality of how a person is a mix of several things - not all good, not all bad – dawns.

I am in conflict about the story. There is nothing spectacular about it and yet there are a few above average real moments. t is not very clear why George would want to marry someone from a dramatically different background, different upbringing, values and beliefs. Moreover, irrespective of the fact that it is about newlyweds, this is certainly not a romance novel. But, give it a shot.

Here are a few lines quoted from the book:

 “..wasn’t that what it was like for all newlyweds? ……. It felt strange until one day it didn’t.”

“It wasn’t that George was old but that he felt sorry for himself that drove her crazy. If her father was Thunder, then George was Smoke – and how could you argue with someone who began to disappear as soon as you opened your mouth?”

“What a strange thing, she thought, to find out one day that you had built your whole life on a mistake, and the next to discover that this fact would allow you to have your dearest wish.”

Image source: GoodReads

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