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Lucky Girls: Stories

3.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  987 Ratings  ·  127 Reviews
Lucky Girls is the debut collection by an author who first came to national attention with the 2001 publication of the title story in The New Yorker fiction issue.

Here are five stories, set in Southeast Asia and on the Indian subcontinent -- each on bearing the weight and substance of a short novella -- narrated by young women who find themselves, often as expatriates, fac
Hardcover, 225 pages
Published August 1st 2003 by Ecco
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May 05, 2007 Michaela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are not failed writers
It's hard to be objective when the reason you picked up this book in the first place was jealousy. You had just finished your M.F.A. Saved on your computer was a spreadsheet listing every single rejection letter you ever received -- and the list was long. You had pretty much given up on creative writing all together and had settled for a horrible job in community journalism.

And Nell came along, and she was your age and pretty and her first story was published in the New Yorker, of all places. An
May 01, 2008 Yulia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"What's that game where the wooden blocks are stacked so precariously and wooble on their tippy toes till they crash?"

"You mean Jenga?"

"Perhaps, perhaps. But I prefer to think of it otherwise."

"... people were all different things at the same time. They were like onions under fine layers of skin; you didn't ever peel away a last layer, because the layers were what they were"

So thinks a character in the short story 'The Tutor'. This in a nut shell is what 'Nell Freudenberger's debut collection 'Lucky Girls' is all about. The blurbs about the book place much emphasis on the fact that the stories are set mostly in Southeast Asia and particularly India, but the backdrop for these stories
Oct 14, 2014 Katherine rated it liked it
Five stories. Exotic places, mostly India. Older men, younger women. 'Lucky' obviously a little tongue-in-cheek. Several poor little rich girls. Good writing that doesn't call a lot of attention to itself. Skillful, smooth, not self-indulgent; just a hair the wrong side of bland, at times.

"Lucky Girls": my favorite of the stories. Like the other most engaging ones, told in the first person. About a young American woman who used up many good years on an affair with a married Indian man, who has
Aug 19, 2010 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stopped-reading
This was an interesting read, if for no other reason than all of the buzz -- positive and negative -- around the author. I have never seen such vituperative reviews as the user reviews on Amazon for this book:

Curtis Sittenfeld -- author of "Prep" and "American Wife," both of which I loved -- wrote a redeeming piece on Freudenberger in Salon that is also interesting background reading:

I finished three of the five stor
Apr 08, 2016 MaggyGray rated it it was ok
Shelves: my-books-in-2016
Gestern habe ich die letzten Seiten dieses Buches quergelesen, weil ich mich nicht länger quälen wollte.

Naja, vielleicht ist quälen der falsche Ausdruck - die Autorin schreibt gut und flüssig, schöne Dialoge und Beschreibungen der Umgebung und der Menschen. Aber es sind Kurzgeschichten, und mit solchen kann ich generell nicht so viel anfangen: man hat sich gerade eingelesen, da hört die Geschichte schon wieder auf.

Bei den Geschichten in diesem Buch ist mir das besonders extrem aufgefallen. Ich
Mar 11, 2015 Debbie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a huge fan of short stories as I feel they leave something out or I am missing something, they rarely in my opinion give the characters enough opportunity to fully develop.

There were only two stories in this collection that I can say I enjoyed, the first and last.

The first was about a woman who had travelled to India to be with a man as his mistress. When he died it began to outline some of the problems this woman faced as she mourned and tried to come to terms with his death with his Mo
Jul 03, 2010 Mindy rated it it was ok
These stories fell flat. Nothing ever quite rang true, though many moments came close. It was frustrating because while the writing was quite competent, the stories didn't carry the emotional weight they promised. Maybe tomorrow I'll reconsider and give this 3 stars instead of 2, but I don't imagine any of the stories really resonating for that long.
Steve Kettmann
Feb 15, 2015 Steve Kettmann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the stories more than loved them until I came to the last one, which for me vaulted the collection to another realm. It's clear Freudenberger is a writer of both great taste and great talent; I for one won't let a book of hers hit the shelves without sooner or later arriving in my to-read pile.
This book exemplified why I don't like short stories. They always feel they taper off into nothing-- no conclusion, no plot wrap-up. What's the point of reading them when there's such frustration in the lack of outcome?
Jul 05, 2015 Athena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's good but I don't really FEEL anything while I'm reading it.
May 09, 2014 Abby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked several of the stories in this collection, but couldn't finish the last one. All treated interesting issues of displacement -- I particularly liked the one about a crumbling family's reunion in Thailand, another about the troubled relationship between an American girl and her erratic mother in India, and a third about the interaction between a sub-continent born but American educated tutor to a privileged American girl (Sorry, can't find my copy of the book so don't have chapter titles.)
Mar 03, 2013 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t like short stories as I always am longing for more. Short stories only provide a small glimpse into the character’s existences. They usually lack a conclusion. Regardless of my short story frustrations and biases, Nell Freudenberge is a good writer who creates solid, absorbing characters. My two favorite stories were ‘The Tutor’ and ‘The Orphan.’

In ‘The Tutor’ a young American girl living with her father in India hires Zubin, a tutor. Freudenberge beautifully illustrates the reason for t
Sep 29, 2012 Jared rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars.

Put another way, I wanted to like this collection of stories more than I did, but I know I'll be tackling Freudenberger's two novels in the future.

First, the good news: this woman has the creative range indicative of a very real desire to be a "global citizen," to truly listen to, and tell the stories of, a wide variety of people. The reader sees this in gorgeous descriptions of sites all over America and Asia. The author's worldliness also shows through in an understanding that any wr
I picked up Nell Freudenberger's third book, "The Newlyweds," simply because I was intrigued by the premise. I had no idea who the author was, no idea there was so much hubbub over her ten years ago when she became the It Girl other young writers loved to hate. Anyway, I loved "The Newlyweds" and eagerly bought her first book, "Lucky Girls."

MAYBE I shouldn't have read all the articles about her path to publishing before I started "Lucky Girls." Maybe, just maybe, it colored my opinion. But I do
Patrick McCoy

Lucky Girls by Nell Freudenberger generated a lot of attention when it first came out and not necessarily for its merits (see all the hating reivews on Amazon). It seems that Freudenberger was an intern at The New Yorker, which chose to run one of her stories and it also turns out that she has had somewhat of a privileged life being a young attractive woman with a degree from Harvard as well as a big advance for a book based on the short stories in her collection Lucky Girls.

As for the writing,
Eveline Chao
Unfortunately for Nell Freudenberger, I would have given this a way higher rating if it wasn't for me having just read another short story collection by Alice Munro. All the stories in here are interesting (although I'm naturally biased since they're all about expat girls and I'm an expat girl) and have good premises (for example, white girl living abroad in India has longterm affair with older Indian man; he dies and his mom and wife start getting involved in white girl's life) and are entertai ...more
Apr 16, 2010 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny by: Greg Mortimer
Shelves: short-stories
I loved the first two and last two stories - was sort of baffled by the middle one ("Outside the Eastern Gate").

From "The Orphan"
p. 52 Alice thinks of the incredible frustration of not knowing things, and of knowing that they can't be known - the incredible privacy of people's experience.

From "The Tutor"
p. 113 Homesickness was like any other illness: you couldn't remember it properly.

From "Letter From the Last Bastion"
p. 176 My mother says that if you're always thinking about how things are go
Diana Nagy
Apr 15, 2016 Diana Nagy rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-own
This is a book of stories written by a new author. This is her first book. I would have loved to have given excellent reviews on this book but I am not a fan of stories (sorry Nell) and while this book was well written, the stories didn't keep me compelled to continue reading and this book took awhile to finish for me. I just have to stop reading books with stories to read because the only one that I have enjoyed is John Grisham's Ford County.
The Bookloft
Bookseller: Ev

No doubt about it - you'll be hearing Nell Freudenberger's name in stellar reviews and in conversations about exciting and gloriously talented writers of new American fiction. If you loved Jhumpa Lahiri's award-winning The Interpreter of Maladies, you'll be just as impressed by this colleCtion of stories. Read Richard Ford's accolade on the back cover - every word of it is true.
May 29, 2014 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book Crossing book :)

One sentence summary: A book of five short stories about girls from the USA in Southeast Asia. I feel that the 3rd is not as good as the other four but those others made up for it! I particularly liked the second and fifth stories. I disliked the abrupt endings. A holiday dip-in kind of book!

I'm getting a bit bored of three consequetive 3* books, hoping to find a 4* one soon :D
Samuel Hunter
I fell in love with Nell Freudenberger while listening to her read for the New Yorker's fiction podcast, so when I saw this collection I bought it. Didn't read the flap. Didn't check reviews.

It was good, and impressive for a first collection. Maybe though, I should have found an audio version.
Mar 02, 2013 Shani rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I keep coming back to short stories because I know that there are some excellent ones out there--and Nell Freudenberger delivered! The stories in this book were well developed. The characters all took me to different places; her descriptions were outstanding. I can't believe how young the author was when she wrote these stories. I'm eager now to read her more recent works.

Favorite quotes both come from the last story, "Letter from the Last Bastion," which was my favorite of the five:
"I always t
Jun 20, 2007 Allison rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shortstories
I tried, really tried, to like this book. Alas. I didn't even finish.

A collection of short stories, Freudenberg takes either hybrid identities or expat Americans in southeast Asia as her subject matter, illustrating the circumstances of five girls/women.

I think my problem is right now I'm looking for plot-driven stories. Freudenberg, upon first glance, looked like she was duplicating the success of Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies, which I loved. But no, Freudenberg is much more focused
Richard Jespers
Nov 20, 2014 Richard Jespers rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-fiction
Comprised of five long stories, all set in Asia/India. Excellent. Great control of the language. Subtle. Reminds me of Pam Houston, mainly because the the ragged honesty Freudenberger displays throughout.
Nov 10, 2007 Tatiana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tatiana by: i wish i could remember
okay, i admit it, i have a huge chip on my shoulder for all the mid-20's wunderkind who are already published and living the preppy artist's life in a nice dusty brownstone in brooklyn. someone recommended this and i was like oh sure, she got published in the new yorker on her first story, which, is like deciding to become and bank robber and robbin fort knox, and then got a book deal off of that one short story? that, too me, sounds like the makings of a really crap writer, because stuff like t ...more
Feb 11, 2014 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terrific writer! Collection of stories of the romantic relationships of young women's living away from home.
Apr 11, 2010 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I quite enjoyed this collection of stories; especially the first, for which the collection is named after, and the final two. It was in the final story, Letter from the Last Bastion, that I finally lost myself as a reader and forgot to take notice of what the author was attempting to do. Freudenberger's prose is beautiful and yet economical, almost to the point of leaving the reader mystified. But what can she mean really happened? I must admit that there is something in me that longs for the sa ...more
Jan 03, 2009 Sara rated it really liked it
I first read one of the short stories from this collection in a writing class, and didn't appreciate its skill at the time. I've since become a fan of Nell Freudenberger's short stories. I've learned to appreciate her exotic asian settings and look past what I don't understand for the universal nugget in each of them. I think my favorite is "Outside the Eastern Gate", which deals with the memories and emotions that any of us face in returning to our childhood home, and more particularly, the dif ...more
Nov 25, 2015 Teresa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had little patients for the young girls in these stories.
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Nell Freudenberger is the author of the novel The Dissident and the story collection Lucky Girls, winner of the PEN/Malamud Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; both books were New York Times Book Review Notables. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award, and a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellowship from the New York Publi ...more
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