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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

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (3510 )
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  •  
    Keith 10-18-10
    Keith 10-18-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    2
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    "NOT FOR ME"

    I FOUND THIS TO BE A VERY TEDIOUS LISTEN. UNHAPPY PEOPLE TREATING EACH OTHER BADLY.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    brooke Richmond Heights, Missouri, United States 10-08-10
    brooke Richmond Heights, Missouri, United States 10-08-10 Member Since 2010
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    "Don't Waste Your Time"

    This book was the most depressing tale about nothing. It was completely pointless. I am really disappointed that I wasted my monthly credit on this book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill Livonia, MI, United States 10-07-10
    Bill Livonia, MI, United States 10-07-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    4
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    "FREEDOM by Jonathan Franzen"

    I don't like it. Can't even finish the first segment. Not my type of book. I couldn't possibly care any less about any of the characters. But I may not be someone you should pay any attention to, when considering a purchase. I listened to a couple of the "Rabbit" books by John Updike with the same results. I don't get what the attraction is. Boring, somewhat shallow people from backgrounds I can't relate to, living their lives. BFD! Who cares?!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michele Falls Church, VA, United States 10-06-10
    Michele Falls Church, VA, United States 10-06-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    3
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    "A Excellent Read"

    I approached this book with a little trepidation, given all the hype. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and the narration was outstanding.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martha Trupiano 10-06-10

    book reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
    35
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    58
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    1
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    Overall
    "Awful"

    How can anyone listen to this dribble about the worst aspects of life in America! Nothing is funny or redeeming about this book. I have no idea what is the hot interest in this downer.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harry Mahwah, NJ, United States 11-11-10
    Harry Mahwah, NJ, United States 11-11-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    8
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    0
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    "Freedom by Jonathan Franzen"

    I agree with Marlen from Santa Barbara. I have to force myself to continue. It is torture. The dialogue is repetitive and the narrative is awful. Don't waste your money. When I bought this the rating was well over 4 but it has been sliding ever since.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul 10-24-10
    Paul 10-24-10 Member Since 2002

    Radio Broadcaster for 50 years in the National Radio Hall of Fame and Texas Radio Hall of Fame twice . Live in San Diego from Holyoke Mass.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    31
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    0
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    Overall
    "so sucks"

    This was such a waste of $ but at one point I had to decide what my time was worth. Couldn't get thru it soooo sucks. Would not post unless I give it at least one star really no stars.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc Philadelphia, PA, United States 10-20-10
    Marc Philadelphia, PA, United States 10-20-10 Member Since 2003
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    "So-So"

    Sociology does not make for great or even good literature -- and this is sociology by the numbers. As if written from index cards, the characters of the book are carefully constructed from minute and plentiful place-time details, that approximate authenticity, but fail to engage. What's all the fuss?

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tony watervliet, MI, United States 10-17-10
    tony watervliet, MI, United States 10-17-10 Member Since 2010
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    1
    Overall
    "Not my style of book"

    After reading Freedom I have discovered that the character driven style of this book is not for me. I couldn't help thinking this book was like a daytime soap opera. I'm sure many people enjoy this style of writing, but not me. I kept waiting...waiting...waiting for something exciting to happen. As I said before, I don't think I enjoy this genre of writing. I gave it a shot. I wouldn't recommend this book to any of my friends, but maybe to my wife and some of her friends.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
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