The Newlyweds

Photo: Philip Friedman/Studio D

7 of 18
The Newlyweds
352 pages; Knopf
In the first paragraph of Nell Freudenberger's winning novel, The Newlyweds (Knopf), we meet Amina—coatless, in slippers, running to the mailbox, announcing silently to her new neighbors that she has come to stay. But where did she come from, and why? Freudenberger addresses these questions—Amina moved from Bangladesh to Rochester, New York, as the Internet bride of a mild-mannered engineer named George—and many others in this thoughtful treatise on cross-cultural relationships tucked into a wry satire of American life. How will Amina, whose dearest wish is to bring her parents to live in George's spare bedroom, adjust to life in a society that allows adult children to stop speaking to their parents? More important, how will she deal with George's betrayals, small and not so small? Freudenberger is too sophisticated to make this a simple tale of a disappointed bride: Amina, for all her ingeniousness, has secrets of her own. That she and George manage to muddle through 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. 
— Sara Nelson