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Freedom: A Novel | [Jonathan Franzen]

Freedom: A Novel

Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul - the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter's dreams. Together with Walter - environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man - she was doing her small part to build a better world.
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Publisher's Summary

From the National Book Award-winning author of The Corrections, a darkly comedic novel about family.

Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul - the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter's dreams. Together with Walter - environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man - she was doing her small part to build a better world. But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz - outré rocker and Walter's college best friend and rival - still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become “a very different kind of neighbor,” an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street's attentive eyes?

In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom's intensely realized characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.

©2010 Jonathan Franzen (P)2010 Macmillan Audio

What the Critics Say

"The Great American Novel." (Esquire)

"It’s refreshing to see a novelist who wants to engage the questions of our time in the tradition of 20th-century greats like John Steinbeck and Sinclair Lewis . . . [This] is a book you’ll still be thinking about long after you’ve finished reading it." (Patrick Condon, Associated Press)

“Writing in prose that is at once visceral and lapidary, Mr. Franzen shows us how his characters strive to navigate a world of technological gadgetry and ever-shifting mores, how they struggle to balance the equation between their expectations of life and dull reality, their political ideals and mercenary personal urges. He proves himself as adept at adolescent comedy as he is at grown-up tragedy; as skilled at holding a mirror to the world his people inhabit day by dreary day as he is at limning their messy inner lives . . . Mr. Franzen has written his most deeply felt novel yet—a novel that turns out to be both a compelling biography of a dysfunctional family and an indelible portrait of our times." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Kristin Shreveport, LA, United States 01-24-11
    Kristin Shreveport, LA, United States 01-24-11 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    "Franzen insults his readership.....again"

    While I fully give Franzen his props for generally being a fantastic writer, the characters in this book made me want to end all contact with humanity. I don't mean to "pick", but Walter's continuous diatribe against American consumerism resulted in me wanting to punch him in the face......if he were real. I was about 2/3 of the way through the book before I had that icky feeling that the book itself was a big "middle finger" to the general American populous. Ever since Franzen's beef with Oprah over "The Corrections", I've had a sneaking suspicion that he generally loathes the readers who buy his books. "Freedom" effectively confirmed that, and by the end of the novel, I couldn't care less what happened to Walter, Patty and Joey. I really just wanted to buy an SUV and a pack of Chiclets.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pam 01-24-11
    Pam 01-24-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    21
    1
    Overall
    "I give up."

    I've tried again & again to listen to this book (mostly because my "reading" friends recommended it) but I find the narrator's sarcastic, sing-songy tone absolutely unbearable. I had a solid, three hour block of alone-driving time today, plugged in (I'm about a third of the way through), and, after less than five minutes, switched to channel surfing the radio. I'm not usually a quitter, but I give up.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SUZANNE ANZELLOTTI POLAND, OH United States 01-21-11
    SUZANNE ANZELLOTTI POLAND, OH United States 01-21-11 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    97
    16
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    0
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    Overall
    "A story that took a long, long, time to tell."

    While it is a true reflection of American upper middle class psyche of the last 30 years, it is an arduous
    read. Chapters and chapters of introspective self indulgence. The reader, David Le Doux was wonderful and made it all bearable.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie Scarborough, ME, United States 01-15-11
    Laurie Scarborough, ME, United States 01-15-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    33
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    47
    19
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    FOLLOWING
    1
    4
    Overall
    "Long winded Soap"

    When I started listening, and then listened some more, I couldn't shake the fact that I felt that instead of watching an afternoon soap show I was listening to one. Was it well written, yes. Were the characters interesting, yes. However, one cannot liken this, or categorize this, as a Classic. Could I see these characters in my friends and family, yes. I've been an audible customer for years and this book was not worth my time or money. Meaning, I didn't sit in my car waiting for a chapter to end or, at the end of the book said "that was great". I was actually glad when it ended.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JANE 12-27-10
    JANE 12-27-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    18
    15
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Barely finished it...ugh"

    I don't know what all the hype was about..... I can only read about selfish characters so long. The author pretends to know how a woman thinks... but he does a poor job

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cathy Rothwell San Diego, CA United States 12-27-10
    Cathy Rothwell San Diego, CA United States 12-27-10 Member Since 2006
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    36
    1
    Overall
    "Just OK"

    Don't know what all the hubbub is about this book, I found it enjoyable but just average.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    EveLynn Kissimmee, FL 12-26-10
    EveLynn Kissimmee, FL 12-26-10 Member Since 2015

    EveLynn in Kissimmee

    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    129
    16
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "an okay book but not one of my favorites"

    I was a bit disappointed. It was an okay way to pass a long road trip. Dysfunctional characters caught up in the normality of life. I was a bit bored at times.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. G. Hebbard Cedar Park, Texas, USA 12-26-10
    L. G. Hebbard Cedar Park, Texas, USA 12-26-10 Listener Since 2008

    Attaboy

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    153
    12
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Save your money and credits"

    Boring, boring, boring! What else can one say about such a boring senseless, unentertaining work? It is boring!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Molly Pittsburgh, PA, United States 12-21-10
    Molly Pittsburgh, PA, United States 12-21-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    2
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    0
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    Overall
    "Snore!"

    After all the hype I was excited to dive into this audio book... but what a let down. Boring, to say the least. It was much longer than it needed to be, the characters were flat and uninteresting.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Fort Collins, CO, United States 12-19-10
    Kathy Fort Collins, CO, United States 12-19-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    31
    3
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    0
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    Overall
    "Not for me"

    I have just proven to myself that I should not get a book because of it being on Oprahs book list. There are a few books in her club that I have liked but this is not one of them. I am sorry that I got it.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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