We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
Call anytime(888) 283-5051
 >   > 
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.
Regular Price:$47.93
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

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 (3434 )
5 star
 (1030)
4 star
 (972)
3 star
 (727)
2 star
 (378)
1 star
 (327)
Overall
3.7 (1166 )
5 star
 (378)
4 star
 (315)
3 star
 (266)
2 star
 (106)
1 star
 (101)
Story
3.9 (1164 )
5 star
 (445)
4 star
 (403)
3 star
 (184)
2 star
 (74)
1 star
 (58)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Lawrence Monroeville, PA, United States 09-07-10
    Lawrence Monroeville, PA, United States 09-07-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    290
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    38
    20
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    20
    0
    Overall
    "Believe the Hype"

    With so much maudlin advance-hype of the printed novel, I looked for reasons to criticize this audiobook. Alas, it lived up to, and in my opinion, exceeded expectations.

    David LeDoux does a masterful job in performing the many voices in Freedom. I’ve watched several YouTube interviews of Fanzen. LeDoux’s voice and presentation are similar. He captures Franzen’s manner of speaking which is consistent with the tone and themes of this book. Whether this was intended by the producers is an open question since the narrator of the audiobook The Corrections had a smoky, older voice (though he did a good job).

    Fanzen has been criticized for his sarcastic and cynical interviews, but to me he is entertaining, sincere, and very, very smart. Many great authors such as Joyce, Hemmingway, and Fitzgerald had big egos. They took their writing seriously and expected the same from their readers. This is not a bad thing.

    I have listened to a little over 300 unabridged audiobooks, many of them recordings of classics such as Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy, Joyce, etc. I don’t give inflated reviews. Offhand, the only performance that meets or exceeds LeDoux’s performance is Jeremy Iron’s reading of Lolita. This audiobook is worth the time and money, and then some. It’s that good.

    155 of 168 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anastasia Burke California 09-17-10
    Anastasia Burke California 09-17-10 Member Since 2007

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    621
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    139
    62
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    153
    2
    Overall
    "Brilliant writing, difficult to like"

    I couldn't wait for Jonathan Franzen's new book to come out. And I have to say...I kinda sorta hated it. And I liked it. A lot. I did not, however, LOVE it.

    I like difficult books with difficult characters. But, with the exception of one or two characters, this is a book filled with intensely selfish, deeply unlikeable people. Would that I could create characters so clearly defined! I mean, Franzen is brilliant in this regard. You know EXACTLY who these people are...and you would never want to invite them to dinner.

    I had to struggle to get through it. I'm conflicted. Great writing, great story line. But really hard people to spend time with.

    I will say, the ending was very satisfying, so I'm glad I hung in there. Getting to the final sentences, though, was a struggle for this voracious reader of comtemporary and classic literature.

    96 of 104 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katrina Aurora, CO, United States 09-14-10
    Katrina Aurora, CO, United States 09-14-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    58
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "An American Classic"

    I spent a wonderful 24 hours listening to "Freedom", examining my own political leanings and marital history and consumerist tendencies as Franzen's characters displayed theirs. I am roughly the same age as Walter and Patty Berglund, so the subject matter - a beautiful and complex story of a modern American family - was as familiar to me as my own personal history.

    The narration was excellent (except for the female Indian character, who tended to sound like a caricature at times). I found myself rapt with attention, stopped in my driveway, unable to bring in the groceries and unwilling to tend to my email and cell phone messages.

    Highly recommended.

    58 of 64 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Spangler Norfolk, VA 12-13-10
    R. Spangler Norfolk, VA 12-13-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Enjoyable book. Really liked the narration."

    I am a non-fiction guy. I read (listen to) a lot of business books, history books and opinion based on fact (!) books, so it was rather odd that I purchased this nove. I had seen a very glowing review of it in National Review, so it caught my interest. I had just finished Ayn Rand's 51 hour epic, Atlas Shrugged, so I wasn't sure I was up for another stemwinder.

    Some of the reviews of this audiobook disparaged David LeDoux's reading of it, especially his rendition of Lalitha, the Bengali girlfriend of Walter. Her voice was a bit contrived, but it was actually not a bad version of a man's Indian accent (albeit a man with a tenor voice.) Seriously, I thought his manner of speaking was soooooooo totally well-done. Some narrators just speak the words, others attempt to bring life to the words while not attempting to actually sound like the character, but LeDoux does it all and it really helped me make it through a 24 hour book.

    Rather than review the substance of the book, which has already been well covered, I wanted to comment on the form. As an audiobook, I found it a bit tough to follow the timeline as well as some of the characters of the novel. Franzen's use of time shifting, sometimes in remembrances, sometimes in just seemingly random storyline movements were confusing to this listener. Also, in one chapter near the end when Patty was dealing with her family, the names became almost overwhelming to place without having a visual marker by which to sort them, but such is a hazard of audiobooks.

    My hearty recommendation is to get this book. Don't be swayed by a few naysayers about the narration. Plus when you are done with it, you will feel soooooooo much better about your own situation in life. Reeeeally...

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JOHN Plantation, FL, United States 10-31-10
    JOHN Plantation, FL, United States 10-31-10 Member Since 2003

    Audible Member Since 2003

    HELPFUL VOTES
    503
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    429
    66
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    30
    3
    Overall
    "Not as good as The Corrections"

    Like the rest of the world, I was very much looking forward to the release of Jonathan Franzen's new novel FREEDOM. In one sense, I was not disappointed, and Franzen continues to prove his writing prowess is no fluke. FREEDOM is chock full of the crazy family dysfunctionality that we grew to love in THE CORRECTIONS, actually a good bit more of it. And that might be the slight problem with this book - too much of it. When sometimes less is more, FREEDOM heaps on nutcase after nutcase.

    The characters in this book are very believable and we all know and/or are related to them. We just prefer not to know them too well. Still, I enjoyed this book a lot and would recommend it, but not quite at highly as Franzen's previous and best book.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    loix Pittsburgh, PA, United States 09-08-10
    loix Pittsburgh, PA, United States 09-08-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    315
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    100
    38
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    10
    1
    Overall
    "Well worth sticking it out"

    Many good books, even from my favorite writers, often fizzle out; this is one of those rare and welcome exceptions. I did find the middle part a little bloated, the contemporary cultural references a bit too numerous for my taste, and the rantings somewhat tiresome, indulgent, and cheap, but was ready to forget and "forgive" all those weaknesses when I was on the last chapter. Definitely among the top ten downloads, both in content and narration, in my collection of 382.

    61 of 69 people found this review helpful
  •  
    michael East Windsor, NJ, United States 09-12-10
    michael East Windsor, NJ, United States 09-12-10 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    71
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    88
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Perfection"

    Franzen peels back the the American psyche with the same empathy for flaws as Updike and all of the pathos of Roth. Each character is at war with themselves in a battle to be the excessive American role model. The conflicts are both rich and subtle and every word is like a scalpel. This is a story for the ages.

    31 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen los angeles, CA, United States 11-29-11
    Karen los angeles, CA, United States 11-29-11 Member Since 2005

    living in los angeles I drive a lot, so audio books save me from a lot of frustration!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    62
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    179
    33
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    14
    96
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I just didn't get it"

    Maybe it went over my head. The only thing that surprised me about this book was how much sex there was, since so many contemporary authors don't even bother with it. Of course, this being Franzen, the sex was not enjoyable to read, being a lot of pathetic, compulsive masturbation, men being led by their d---ks and people so caught up in their own misery and self consciousness that they can't enjoy it. This is my biggest problem with Franzen's writing -- he very much dislikes/holds at a distance/tortures his characters. So why should I care about them? However, after slogging through, albeit skimming a bit, the ending did get to me, but maybe it was due to the sheer relief that it was over.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tricia - Audible NJ, United States 04-11-12
    Tricia - Audible NJ, United States 04-11-12 Member Since 2010

    Constantly in search of the perfect listen.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    147
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    177
    19
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    227
    22
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An epic, yet understated, great American novel."

    This is a brilliantly written novel. One of the best I’ve read, or listened to, in quite a while. The story-line itself does not give an accurate picture of what this book is all about. When looked at superficially, the main characters are stereotypes of white, liberal, middle class Americans. The subject matter of teenage rebellion, strained relationships with parents, marital estrangement and infidelity can all be considered overdone and passé, but Franzen brings a new insight to these themes and explores them with an honesty and understatedness that is completely refreshing. Freedom is an epic story depicting contemporary American life in a distinctive, intimate and unique way.

    David LeDoux, the narrator, does a great job, especially considering the fact that while the author is male, the majority of this story is told from the perspective of Patty Berglund, a female. Having a male narrator does not take away from things one little bit. This is also a long book and the story takes place over many years. The narrator keeps things moving in an entertaining and understandable way.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Holbrook coastal North Carolina 10-25-10
    Karen Holbrook coastal North Carolina 10-25-10 Member Since 2009

    Dixie Kangaroo

    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    110
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Insightful"

    Franzen's characters are so well developed I felt they could be members of my own family. He writes in beautiful prose on how too much freedom can wreak havoc on our lives and our environment. I loved the narrator. He had just the right tone of cynicism in his voice.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 288 results PREVIOUS1229NEXT

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

CANCEL

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.