I’ve enjoyed some of Freudenberger’s work in the past, but not this “story,” and I use quotation marks because this is either an excerpt or is in some way drawn from a novel she’s working on: The Newlyweds (as we know from the Q&A with Nell Freudenberger).
The protagonist is potentially interesting, but I don’t find much in this story that is appealing and the character ultimately falls flat. Amina is from a struggling Bangladesh family—struggling, apparently, because of the father’s incompetence—and she goes online to meet a man, moves to the US, and marries him. In fairly rapid succession she disobeys her mother by giving her virginity to the man, spends a day with her future husband’s cousin buying a wedding dress, and then gets married. At the wedding the big excitement is that she forgets she’s supposed to kiss the groom, or she momentarily forgets where she is, or . . . something.
Briefly there is conflict with the mother, but it is easily brushed aside. Briefly there is what appears to be a possible conflict with the mother-in-law, but that goes nowhere. And in the end, Amina and George are married and, it seems, happy. One clever bit is how Amina learns the word “dumbstruck” but that can’t make up for the rest of this fiction.
September 6, 2010: “An Arranged Marriage” by Nell Freudenberger