Nell Freudenberger’s The Newlyweds is a fascinating story of two people marrying for the wrong reasons. You’d think what can you expect from a marriage of two people that knew each other only through correspondence? From a marriage that isn’t based on love?
Well, you may be surprised.
Amina Mazid, 24, and George Stillman, 36, meet online, both hoping to fall in love and marry. George flies to Bangladesh to meet her in person, they like each other, and eventually Amina joins him in Rochester, New York, where they get married. And then their problems begin.
Of course, all newlyweds go through an adjustment period, stressful and even painful sometimes, and the Stillmans are no exception. Only their problems are deeply rooted in different expectations from their union. They’re both decent people, and they both want the marriage to work, but they find it difficult to communicate their wishes to one another.
Basically, it’s a proverbial fairy tale of a mail-order bride that I explored in my novel, Without Thinking Twice. Different backgrounds, different cultures, interests, education, temperaments, values, religions, you name it. Thus, inevitable clashes, resulting in heartache and disillusionment.
The Newlyweds is a fine novel, rich in description of cultures and feelings, with well-developed characters, and a captivating plot. But I was disappointed in its ending, namely Amina’s decision regarding her marriage. By saying that, I don’t think I’m giving away a spoiler because other readers might find it quite satisfying.