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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (3,951 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Nell Freudenberger Narrator: Mozhan Marnò Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2012 ISBN: 9780307990013
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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, PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author of Bel Canto

  • “A marvelous book.”

    Kiran Desai, Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Inheritance of Loss

  • “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, New York Times bestselling author of The Story of a Marriage

  • “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 and Absurdistan

  • “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.”

    New York Times (editorial review)

  • “Parts of The Newlyweds might be about the learning curve faced by any freshly married couple…[Freudenberger] deftly shows how strange the rituals of suburban America seem to an observant outsider.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Riveting. [The Newlyweds] succeeds based on Freudenberger’s uncanny ability to feel her way inside Amina’s skin.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Captivating…This engaging story, with its page after page of effortless prose, ultimately offers up a deeper narrative.”

    Boston Globe

  • “A delight, one of the easiest book recommendations of the year…gentle touches of social satire, subtly drawn characters, and dialogue that expresses far more than its polite surface.”

    Washington Post

  • “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

  • “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.”

    New York Times Book Review 

  • 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

  • “Rich, wise, bighearted…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

  • “Amina’s determination, intelligence, and resilience make her a heroine for any culture and any time.”

    Marie Claire

  • 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.”

    NPR (editorial review)

  • “A true triumph.”

    New York Observer

  • “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 

  • “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 Commencement

  • “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, author of The Wife

  • “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, award-winning author of The Free World

  • A 2012 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Beata | 2/18/2014

    " This book had a lot of potential, but it never materialized. In the end, I didn't really like any of the characters and not much really happened. I really wanted to like Amina, and really sympathized with her in the beginning, but the book just dragged on and on and every character just became more and more unlikeable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Whisky Wells | 2/14/2014

    " immigrant stuff. very engaging for me these days. a bit soap-opera-y but grand. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Trudi | 2/13/2014

    " This is, I believe, the first book I've read that takes place (partially) in Bangladesh, and I found that interesting. Amina puts her profile on the internet and begins corresponding with George, an American. Eventually George comes to Bangladesh to meet Amina, and they decide to marry. This is the story of Amina's adjustment to America, her attempts to bring her parents to join her, and the effect that past loves on the part of both George and Amina will have on their marriage. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heather Kramm | 2/11/2014

    " This is an intimate portrait of marriage between Bangladesh immigrant and her American husband who met online. I really enjoyed learning more about Bangladesh culture and the relationship with her parents but there never really was a sense of an ending/closure/or point to it all. It never really goes anywhere and was disappointing in the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dona | 2/8/2014

    " WOW - Two good books read in a row. That doesn't happen often. This story, of a "mail order" bride and an engineer in Rochester, NY was extremely entertaining. Told from the eyes of the bride, the difficulties she overcame between two such very different cultures was quite thought provoking. I would recommend this without hesitation. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Francesca | 1/28/2014

    " Here's a book that has much to discuss for a book club. Cross-cultural issues; immigration; family and spousal relationships across cultures; "arranged marriages" and the layers of secrecy and deceit that can pass for cultural differences. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Caitlin | 1/27/2014

    " A good friend once told me that good fiction teaches just as much as non-fiction does, and this novel is the perfect example. Though not a true story, I learned so many fascinating details about another culture and saw my own country through new eyes. Each character was so very well-developed and I loved seeing Amina come into her own as George simultaneously seemed to come out of his. Nell did a great job at using that great character development to her advantage; though Kim or Amina's parents may have acted in ways that frustrated me, any other behaviors would not have actually made sense and the would made the story less authentic. I could not stop reading this book not because it was a suspenseful page-turner, but because I just so enjoyed it and felt I was immersed in such a high-quality piece of work that I yearned to keep experiencing it! I can't wait to read Nell's other books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 MTR | 1/18/2014

    " I loved this book--even though I felt a little impatient for something to happen in the first 100 pages. But Freudenberger's prose and her mastery of the art of writing, calmed me down and I really grew to love the characters. I loved the opportunity the story provided for getting a glimpse into the process of assimilating into a new culture--and really what is revealed is Amina's complex internal reactions to her new and previous culture. Set in Bangledesh and Rochester, New York. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Allison Moesta | 12/23/2013

    " This book started out promising, but then threw in a HUGE curveball. At times there were too many character (family members) to keep track of. The ending mostly made me sad for the main character, but in an interesting way. Worth a read! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kerry Miller | 12/3/2013

    " The story and the set-up grabbed me from the beginning, but the last third or so left me cold, and ultimately disappointed. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Daniellefirth | 11/5/2013

    " Almost interesting. I picked this up when I didn't have any good books to read and only kept reading because nothing better came along. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Colleen Hayes | 10/27/2013

    " The book is misnamed because it isn't really about Amina and George, the bride and groom. The book doesn't flesh out George's character at all. It really is about Amina and her Bangladeshi culture and family. I was upset at the ending. There was no closure at all - the story just stopped! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jane Farthing | 10/15/2013

    " Five stars - not given easily - but thoroughly enjoyed this read. Felt like there was depth and the characters felt real and believable and I cared. I can be alarmed sometimes by how easily I forget a book - but think this one will stay with me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Harriet | 10/12/2013

    " I read it very quickly, thought it interesting but didn't really get involved with any of the characters and thought it not truly convinced that it would turn out in the end as to be as successful as the characters hoped it would prove to be. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linnet | 10/9/2013

    " Amina (in Bangladesh) and George (in Rochester NY) meet in a dating website. Before long, George heads to Bangladesh and returns home with the promise of marriage to Amina. The story involves the culture problems for each, and unresolved romances for each as well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carolyn | 8/17/2013

    " Oregonian books "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cindy | 6/15/2013

    " Interesting beginning but boring after the first few chapters. Unsatisfactory ending. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ang | 3/20/2013

    " Yes. So good. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Judy Hoehn cliver | 3/1/2013

    " Not what I expected and difficult to continue on at times "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jodi Davis | 12/21/2012

    " could not get through this book; I tried... twice! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chris Wharton | 11/13/2012

    " Internet courtship and marriage of American man and Bangladeshi woman withstand family dynamics on both ends. Very good on crossing cultures and (as best I can tell) modern Bangladesh and social changes there. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Megan Barragry | 7/4/2012

    " Really enjoyable read! Amina is a great protagonist who seeks happiness for herself and her parents, tries to find a balance with her new husband George, and reconcile the way she understands events from the past with how her life is today. Would recommend! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kevin | 6/4/2012

    " An interesting read, written very much in the style of west Asian love stories (or at least from my experience with Indian love stories,) where love is lost/found or unrequited. It never ultimately moved me dramatically, but it was an enjoyable read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary | 5/22/2012

    " Interesting view into 'arranged marriages' and the effect of life's choices... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Autumn | 4/13/2012

    " I think this is such a well-written story about the dynamics between two different cultures and the various struggles the main character dealt with internally. I found the initial premise hard to believe but it obviously happened as this was sparked by a real woman's story. "

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About the Author
Author Nell Freudenberger

Nell Freudenberger is the author of the novel The Dissident and the story collection Lucky Girls, winner of the PEN/Malamud Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; both books were New York Times Book Review Notable Books. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award, and a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellowship from the New York Public Library, she was named one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists and one of The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40.” She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

About the Narrator

Mozhan Marnò is an Iranian American film and television actress, most notably appearing in Charlie Wilson’s War and Bones. Her audiobook narrations have won her four AudioFile Earphones Awards.