Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Newlyweds


Last week, I finished this novel that has been on my list for sometime. I found myself transported to another reality so vividly that I was quite sad when I reached the last page. There was so much more I wanted to hear about, so much more I wanted to know. While I like to read what the esteemed New York Times has to say about the books I am reading (but only when I've finished), I have to say that I disagreed with their assessment of this one. I thought it was quite harsh for a book I enjoyed so much. But, let's establish what the book is about, then perhaps you can read it, and we can decided amongst ourselves. Shall we?

The Newlyweds is the story of Amina, a woman from Bangladesh, who moves to Rochester, New York to marry George, the man she meets through a dating website and with whom she has corresponded primarily through email, only meeting him briefly in person when he travels to Bangladesh to propose to her. As you can imagine, life in the United States leaves Amina trying to discover who she really is, particularly in relation to this foreign man with whom she has decided to share her life. Freudenberger writes, "Was there a person who existed beneath languages?" (105). Amina finds herself vacillating between two distinct personas, one being the woman she was in Bangladesh and the other being her new American self who does things and has experiences that she cannot reconcile with her Bangladeshi self. Much of the book centers on Amina's attempt to bring her parents to the United States to live with her and George, a dream the family has harbored for many years. 

In a sense Amina and George don't know each other at all as their experiences of life are so vastly different, and both keep secrets from one another, secrets about the pasts they have abandoned to be together. While I wouldn't say that The Newlyweds is the love story the title implies, it is certainly a story about love, what it takes to make love work, and the various ways that love expresses itself in our lives. I definitely recommend it.

I am currently reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, which is a major downer, so I probably won't review that, but up next is Meg Worlitzer's The Interestings.

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