The new novel from the author of The Corrections.
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 neighbour 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, 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 old college friend and rival - still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to poor Patty?
Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become "a very different kind of neighbour", 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 too much 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 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
I got about 3/4 through the book before I gave up. The thing that made me give up was how much I was just not enjoying the book and the characters. It even seemed that the author didn't like his characters and held them in contempt. It was this more than anything else that made me realise I couldn't care less what happened in the book. The author certainly didn't seem to.
I am a big fan of Franzen. I agree with an earlier reviewer that the narration of Freedom is a spoiler. I was happy to quick-march though the book in its audible version and went on to buy a hard copy and read it again. Not only does the narrator characterize Lolitha with a bad approximation of her accent, it is difficult to sympathize with the wife because of the narrator's vocal characterisation. I got a completely different impression reading it.
I have found this true for several audible books and would greatly value recommendations from other audible "readers" of books which are delightfully interpreted. Jeremy Northam reads George Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London" deliciously. Mary Gordon's latest book "The Love of My Youth" was also badly narrated. I found "The Maids" well read.
That this is a good book does not need saying. The positive review are well-deserved. What strikes me is the narration - David Ledoux doesn't have an annoying voice, doesn't speak too slowly, doesn't get in the way of the story he's telling, nor does he sound like he's trying to put me to sleep. This deserves your monthly credit.
Franzen is still sharp and presents a very real and unbelievably opressiong picture of American life. Though less depressing than in the Corrections.
Wonderfully read. Not for a minute boring!
I gave up on this after 4 hours of unremitting bad life choices by Paddy. The novel basically describes, in minute detail, how Paddy ends up being disillusioned with her parents, her husband, her lifestyle, her friends, her love life, her husband etc etc
Just 4 hours left me depressed - 25 hours would have left me in intensive care after a suicide attempt.
"Waste of money and time"
I was so excited. I had a brand new ipod and this was my first book purchased. What a clunker. I have FORCED myself to listen to 3/4 of it, but I doubt I'll ever finish it.
I'm with Mal, another reviewer, No No No No No! Totally boring!
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