The Newlyweds, Nell Freudenberger, Alfred A Knopf, 2012, 337pp
Let me just say right at the start that I read this less than impressive novel for a reading group. I have many highly anticipated novels on my TBR list and would much rather have been reading Michael Chabon (Telegraph Avenue), Zadie Smith (NW) or Susan Straight (Between Heaven and Here).
I have not read Ms Freudenberger's earlier novel, The Dissidents. I have been aware of her status as a hot young author. She did not measure up for me to the young authors who have blown me away in my reading this year: Jennifer Egan, Emily St John Mandel, Hari Kunzru, Scarlett Thomas, and more.
Her purpose in writing about Amina, a young Bangladeshi woman who marries an American man she met on an internet dating site, is to show the stresses and confusions of living between two cultures. She does make those stresses and confusions clear but compared to Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake or Brick Lane by Monica Ali, The Newlyweds felt too light, too thin; the characters lacked depth; and the story was weak on tension and emotional heft.
Of course, these are merely my opinions. The reading group members all enjoyed the book and felt they had learned something. The Newlyweds is a nice, easy read for those who don't like to be challenged too much. I know that sounds so condescending but I can't help it.
The Newlyweds is available in various formats by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)