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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 (3408 )
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  •  
    Kris Mosinee, WI, United States 10-11-10
    Kris Mosinee, WI, United States 10-11-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Incredible depth of characters"

    I typically read (listen to) non fiction but was drawn to this book by all the hype. I must say it lives up to the hype. I was riveted by the narrative and sucked in to the story. The characters, despite their frequently despicable choices, came alive for me as if they were someone I knew from the past. It helped that I'm from the upper Midwest and familiar with the different locations of the story. For lovers of fiction, I think this is must.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kelly hampden, ME, United States 10-08-10
    kelly hampden, ME, United States 10-08-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "great listening!!"

    Loved this book!! Page turner!! Did not want to turn off my player. The author pulled you in to the characters lives and made you want to know them and know more about them. Very interesting plot. Followed these characters through their lives, through their trials and tribulations....Very much enjoyed.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzanne A. Hodges Manchester, VT 10-06-10
    Suzanne A. Hodges Manchester, VT 10-06-10 Member Since 2008

    Shades of Grey

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sublime"

    One of my top five all-time favorite audible selections, this novel is a joy for the listener in every way. The narration is fabulous, the characters incredibly real and complex and the story a perfect balance between medium highs and mid-range lows lows, with nothing too tragic or stupendous, but an authentic and compelling mix of the ebbing and flowing of life. It was like eating the most satisfying meal one can imagine.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mary j aboughadareh Reston, VA USA 09-26-10
    mary j aboughadareh Reston, VA USA 09-26-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good"

    The subject matter isn't my cup of tea (family issues) but it moved along nicely and was well read. I liked the characters and it had a good ending and I wasn't sorry to see it end.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Brock 09-25-10 Member Since 2003
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    "Unforgettable"

    The Berglunds and their co-conspirators are unforgettable characters, painfully drawn from bits and pieces of a suburban landscape familiar to many of our generation. Franzen weaves the chapters of his novel with such patience and skill that when one character's story stopped and another's began, I felt only momentary loss. The narrator is excellent (although I agree with the criticism of the stereotypical Indian dialect) and Franzen has created another masterpiece.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joan Green Valley, AZ, United States 09-25-10
    Joan Green Valley, AZ, United States 09-25-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "likable characters??"

    I tried to listen for one hour. Then I tried to listen for another hour. I quit listening. I did not like any of the characters. The writing seems shallow and the characters were not interesting. The plot was uninteresting.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Flapjack NC, USA 09-21-10
    Flapjack NC, USA 09-21-10 Member Since 2007

    Flapjack Jones

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    "Freedom to find fault in everything"

    The book is engaging, I couldn't stop listening, but it leaves me with a feeling that the author believes that everything and everyone is false. Every character, and the narrator, thrives on contempt or self loathing. A great book for cynics.

    The voice performance, and it is a performance, is excellent.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    joseph venice, ca, United States 09-17-10
    joseph venice, ca, United States 09-17-10
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    "SURPRISINGLY DISAPPOINTED"

    I read Corrections and I found it interesting. I only got through 1/3 of
    Freedom:A Novel. It just became tedious. (Considering all the fanfare, I'm wondering "what's wrong with me?") I found Jonathan Franzen a poor man's John Updike. Thought the reader was just so so.

    14 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Regina Seattle, WA, United States 98109 09-11-10
    Regina Seattle, WA, United States 98109 09-11-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What's wrong with America?"

    According to Jonathan Franzen, it's freedom, the paradox of too much choice. Being a novel instead of a treatise, nobody in the book hits you over the head with the theme, which runs through all the characters' lives like a river. Great story, good narrator.

    31 of 41 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nan Buckingham, VA, United States 09-22-10
    Nan Buckingham, VA, United States 09-22-10 Member Since 2001

    I am a commercial artist working in my studio in central Virginia. Audible keeps me company and extends my painting hours.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Beyond Boring..."

    I am an open minded listener with eclectic taste. I also use audio books as company while I work, (painting) and play, (treadmill at the gym). I pride myself on finishing every one, sometimes to the bitter end. This time, I am almost to the end of the first downloaded section, AND my rope! It is a good thing my current project is interesting because this book, to put it mildly, is not. The phrase, " Who Cares?" keeps running through my head. If, by some miracle, it improves in the next section, I will come back and write a retraction; however, the chance of that looks bleak. Not my cup of tea.

    13 of 17 people found this review helpful
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