After keeping up with these books posts quite well in 2012, suddenly I find myself 5 books behind... and that's even after reading a behemoth that took me 24 days to read, so no real excuses, except for the typical procrastination!
I know it must seem like I just looooove every novel I read. I like to think I do a good job of picking out books to read. The "too many books, too little time" always echos in my head, so I admit if I have doubts about a book it usually does not get read.
That said, it is almost a relief to come across one that does not quite bowl you over and that flex your critical thought muscles to figure out the reasons. I'll hedge and say there are plenty of good things about Nell Freudenberger's The Newlyweds and I felt the story -- Amina, a young Bangladeshi modern-day mail-order bride (aka international Internet "dating" site) bride coming to Rochester, NY to start a life in surburbia with George, an electrical engineer -- had great potential.
The first parts worked out quite well, exploring the cultural mine-field that would be at the very core of this kind of relationship, let alone any new marriage. Amina is smart and charming, George a bit tentative and bumbling and it was interesting to see how things falling out. But then things get a big bogged up as the emphasis shifts from the marriage to Amina's obsession with bringing her parents to the States. Without giving too much away ,and despite a good twist with each of the newlyweds (which came the proverbial "day late, dollar short"), I found the novel lost its focus and, by the end, I got thinking "The Newlywed" or "Getting A Visa" would have been a more apt title.
A bit more nagging complaint, was that I did not find the work to have an authentic ethnic voice. In the acknowledgements, Freudenberger suggests the jumping point of the novel was a couple she knew and also notes her own extensive international travel. But I just don't think that kind of observational research, especially as an outsider, can possibly create what would have been a far richer literary experience if the author was Bangladeshi.
Good. In parts, interesting. But ultimately, just a bit of timing misfortune of not favorably stacking up against my recent reads. 2.5 stars, with the round-down to an "okay" 2 stars.