No Honeymoon-Stage Here

The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger
The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger

First Line: “She hadn’t heard the mailman, but Amina decided to go out and check.”

This book caught my eye when it first came out because I’d read  Freudenberger’s story collection Lucky Girls a couple years back. Her short stories impressed me. This latest work…did not.

It’s somehow easier to explain why a piece of writing hooks us, instead of how it falls short. For me, at least, the dialogue in The Newlyweds is too stark, too dry. Perhaps this was a deliberate style choice for Freudenberger. I just remember her stories’ characters having more natural conversations, and more dimension.

Also, the pace was a little too slow. I appreciate the day-to-day details included about the couple, but I didn’t quite understand why I should care about them. I mean, Amina is nice and and all, but she doesn’t have that special, emotional spark I expect from protagonists.

I abandoned this book around page 80, when I realized I was experiencing the narrative as some ill-conceived, drawn-out, independent film. The kind where the ambiance is all gray and the actors aren’t convincing because their dialogue is disgracefully overly dramatic.

Maybe in a different mood I could have enjoyed it. But not today.

Bottom Line: Skip this, read Lucky Girls, and patiently wait for Freudenberger’s next release.