Freedom Paperback – Deckle Edge, Sep 20 2011
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Amazon Best of the Month, September 2010: "The awful thing about life is this:" says Octave to the Marquis in Renoir's Rules of the Game. "Everyone has his reasons." That could be a motto for novelists as well, few more so than Jonathan Franzen, who seems less concerned with creating merely likeable characters than ones who are fully alive, in all their self-justifying complexity. Freedom is his fourth novel, and, yes, his first in nine years since The Corrections. Happy to say, it's very much a match for that great book, a wrenching, funny, and forgiving portrait of a Midwestern family (from St. Paul this time, rather than the fictional St. Jude). Patty and Walter Berglund find each other early: a pretty jock, focused on the court and a little lost off it, and a stolid budding lawyer, besotted with her and almost burdened by his integrity. They make a family and a life together, and, over time, slowly lose track of each other. Their stories align at times with Big Issues--among them mountaintop removal, war profiteering, and rock'n'roll--and in some ways can't be separated from them, but what you remember most are the characters, whom you grow to love the way families often love each other: not for their charm or goodness, but because they have their reasons, and you know them. --Tom Nissley
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“Narrator David LeDoux does an excellent job with this long and many-charactered novel; he is equally adept at capturing the angst of Walter’s teenage daughter as the cigarette-smoking, hard-living Richard.” – SoundCommentary.com
“Oprah’s newest book-club pick is a natural fit for audio…Narrator Ledoux does a terrific job making this massive novel accessible to listeners.” – Booklist, Starred Review, Editors' Choice List 2010
“Freedom is one of the best-read audio books of recent years, and well worth the time and emotional involvement that’s needed to enjoy it.” – Dale M. Pollock, Winston Salem Journal
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Top Customer Reviews
`Then again, there had always been something not quite right about the Berglunds.'
The next part of the story is an unpublished autobiography composed by Patty Berglund at the suggestion of her therapist. In this, we learn of Patty's youth as a star basketball player and of events in her past. Of how she meets an attractive musician named Richard Katz, and his room-mate Walter Berglund, and of the events that follow in her life.
The novel then moves to New York in 2004 and is seen through the rotating third-person perspectives of Richard, Joey and Walter. Their overlapping narratives take us through much of the novel, until an addendum to Patty's autobiography brings us to 2010 and almost to the end of the story.Read more ›
Probably, when future generations of literature students are studying this book in university, they'll endlessly discuss the socio-historic context as much as students in past times have studied the world of Dickens, George Eliot or Emile Zola. I am aware that many readers will jump out of their skins at my comparing Franzen to those authors but anyway, read it and see!
Freedom is the best new work of fiction I've read so far in 2010.
Freedom looks at the pain, responsibility, and potential involved in doing what appeals to you . . . regardless of the cost to anyone else. It's a worthwhile trip that manages to touch on a wide variety of ways that freedom pulls us in some directions and away from others. There's plenty of food for thought here, parceled out in bite-sized nuggets that you can chew on for weeks to come.
I was particularly impressed by the story's narrative structure. As the book opens, you see the Berglund family from the outside-in, the neighbors' view. Very quickly, one set of patterns are disrupted into a totally unexpected direction, drawing you irresistibly into wanting to know what happened.
In part the answer is that no one who isn't in a family really knows what goes on in a family. In another part, it's that people keep secrets from one another . . . particularly what they see as their own dark sides that they don't want others to know about.
From there, the story richly expands into four narratives, by narrators whose connections to others are rich and hard to grasp . . . even for themselves. It's only by overlaying the narratives that the whole picture begins to emerge. At times, you'll want to shake one character or another into doing something different, but of course you cannot do that with a fictional character any more easily than you can with most real persons.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Graphic sex writing is great. Bad graphic sex writing is the opposite of great. This book has so much juvenile, and literally and literarily repulsive sexual moments that I began... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Never Youmind
very good book about the changes in the modern family. the writing style and plot was surprising since the my ideas and thoughts before I read the book were different than what I... Read morePublished 2 months ago by lerone
This book received so much critical exclaim that I feel like I might have missed something but I found it a bit banal. I did not sympathize with the characters. Read morePublished 7 months ago by NM
An international bestseller and the novel of the year, `Freedom' is an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Read more
I saw an interview with the author on bbc, and was intrigued by this book. His book like so many new books left me feeling flat. Read morePublished on Jan. 2 2013 by Maggie Mandell
I couldn't get into it. I loved The Corrections so much that I had high expectations for this novel. But I cannot say it met them.Published on Nov. 25 2012 by Who the hell is Natalie Varios
It's kind of boring. I mean there are some interesting points, but they are skipped over completely. Read morePublished on July 5 2012
Heard so many great things about this writer, but this seems so high brow, for the common reader. I just feel as though Im being force fed literature, but in way too heavy doses,... Read morePublished on Feb. 4 2012 by Rangdrol
I read the 'official' reviews and was really looking forward to this book. Yes, it covers some interesting family dynamics but the cast is uninspiring and its a real slog. Read morePublished on June 7 2011 by Gavin1234