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Lucky Girls

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  960 ratings  ·  124 reviews
Award-winning US writer Nell Freudenberger's stunning debut collection A collection of five stories, Lucky Girls is set in India and southern Asia. The characters -- rootless, often en route to someplace else -- find themselves variously attracted to or repelled by unfamiliar landscapes where every object seems strange and every emotion is heightened. Living according to a ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by Picador (first published August 1st 2003)
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May 05, 2007 Michaela rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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?
It's good but I don't really FEEL anything while I'm reading it.
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.)
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
Jared Tester
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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.
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
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
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 5 of 5 stars
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
Terrific writer! Collection of stories of the romantic relationships of young women's living away from home.
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
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
I had little patients for the young girls in these stories.
Glad to see that the awfully incestuous publishing industry can you fool sometimes, but not all of the time... This writer has been hyped to death and death itself is what this collection of mediocre, flat short stories amount to: death of the imagination, of originality and plausibility in prose. However, the writer isn't without talent and, perhaps, if she'd been given room to develop instead of taken for publicity as a 'type' and hyped to the height of skyscrapers, then maybe she'd been able ...more
Lukas Evan
Her friends call her Lil' Nell.
cinque racconti in cui la protagonista vive una forma di sradicamento. tranne l'ultimo, sono tutti ambientati in un paese orientale in cui tutto o quasi sembra respingere e favorire lo straniamento e la dimensione del viaggio (per quanto lungo, fino a diventare residenza) si dilata in una forma di estraneità e spaesamento. ho trovato molto belli "orfani" e "fuori dalla porta d'oriente"; esordio acerbo ma interessante.
[tengo molto a questo libro perché, introvabile, mi è stato regalato da un'ami
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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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