Regular price: $47.93

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
OR
In Cart

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

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    1,493
  • 4 Stars
    1,265
  • 3 Stars
    881
  • 2 Stars
    444
  • 1 Stars
    369

Performance

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    948
  • 4 Stars
    640
  • 3 Stars
    303
  • 2 Stars
    109
  • 1 Stars
    86

Story

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    788
  • 4 Stars
    574
  • 3 Stars
    405
  • 2 Stars
    172
  • 1 Stars
    154
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A terrible trip worth taking.

Freedom: Just About Everything That Terrifies Me as a Married Father -an accurate if not precise subtitle. Freedom is about so much more, but what will stick with me is how every character did everything they could to hurt the ones they love and are loved by. It’s an incredibly courageous, unflinching stare-down of everything I try to hide in myself and ignore in other people.
I wished it was preachy or judgmental so that I could agree with it and feel smart. Instead, I cringed when I related to a character's pettiness, spitefulness, and insecurity. I turned the book off in anger and frustration several times. I didn't want to finish it.

But the writing is compelling. I had to know how it would turn out. I'm glad I did. I don't want to give a single thing away. I will just say it was one of the most emotionally powerful moments I've ever experienced in literature.

So why the four stars? Frankly, it meandered a lot. Franzen tries to tackle a lot here, perhaps a bit too much for me. Be prepared for a bit more politics than you might be expecting.

Those who have read The Corrections will recognize the character and plot development techniques. The big difference? The Corrections was funny. Freedom doesn't laugh at the folly of mankind and the mistakes people make. It exposes how our mistakes define and affect those around us.

Finally, I want to say that I personally admire Franzen for this work. It takes a certain amount of fortitude to put something like this out. Well done.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

What a waste of a credit!

I purchased this book because the premise sounded interesting enough, and the reviews suggested that it might be something that I would like. However, I didn't get through the first two hours of the story. The narrator was okay, although I really hated how he read women's voices. It was the book itself that was such a disappointment. I absolutely hated the characters. This is often not a problem. I can listen/read a book with characters that I don't like, provided those characters are interesting and have something compelling about them. The characters in this story, however, were the most two dimensional creations that I've encountered in a long while. Furthermore, nothing happened. Actually, in the hour and a half that I listened, things did happen. But the things that happened seemed to drive the characters in only the most superficial ways. I mean, really, your 16 year old throw a fit and moves out of the house, and you shrug your shoulders? And while the characters had their petty, private obsessions, none of them seemed authentic within the story itself. I think that's my biggest complaint about this book: it is utterly lacking in authenticity. I won't bother with any more of this author's books. And I really wish I could get back my credit.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Angel
  • Grand Rapids, MI, United States
  • 02-09-11

REALITY TV IN A BOOK!

This is the most honest book I have read in years! I loved it. I know a lot of the characters were not nice people but they were real, no sugar coating, just the real deal.The narration was great, story line engaging, excellent characters. This is one of my favorites.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

worth the time

This was pretty good and pretty well read. the main problem is with the characters. They are just not interesting enough to spend so many hours of your own life on. but the reader was good and i enjoyed it more than my wife did who struggled through the print version

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

An Original American Voice

Mr. Frazen's is an exceptionally disciplined voice, authentically local in that it renders with such thorough insight the national character of his cast. Nobody writes like this guy, though I sometimes feel he does not care for his characters very much. I understand it was on Obama's reading list, perhaps because of the insightful way in which the author handles opposing political positions. An accomplished work by a realized voice - pretty rare.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • marcus
  • indianapolis, indiana, United States
  • 11-25-10

How many times did I decide to give up?

Think of making a Grand Marnier Soufflé. It requires concentrated effort, but the payoff is intoxicating........Freedom's achievement is artfully reflecting the foibles of the 21st Century American family, along with the moral dilemmas that seem to creep into our lives. Nearly every scenario and character rang true to my ear. Franzen writes the way a good comedian performs; presenting situations with which we can immediately identify, then revealing the absurdities that may not have occurred to us.......But what annoying people populate Freedom! Several times I stopped the audio book because I couldn't stand another moment of a character's handwringing or braggadocio or self destructive behavior. Time would pass and I would wonder what was happening with these strange people, and then I would continue listening. (I am not one of those people who feel it is their duty to finish a book.) I returned to Freedom after a few breaks because these oddballs were interesting and the issues they were wrestling to the ground are relevant and in a couple of instances, urgent......Then in the final pages Franzon pulled the rug out from under my assumptions about the two central characters. His resolution was so unexpected and moving that my eyes filled with tears. To my surprise, I found myself starting the audio book from the beginning, suspecting that Franzon’s menagerie of characters have depth I might have missed the first time through.... You might consider avoid driving or operating heavy machinery while listening to the last chapter.


2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Nice production -- unsympathetic characters

I agree wholeheartedly with other reviewers who are conflicted between the good writing but the unsympathetic characters. For the most part an entirely fulfilling book, but at many times not enjoyable, due to characters that were hard to spend time with.

The narration was very enthusiastic and engaging, however towards the middle I began to wonder if it was effecting my interpretation of the characters. Each is highly flawed, but also each has redeeming qualities; I wonder if I was reading the book if I would have perceived their subtleties better.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Cathy
  • Huntsville, TX, United States
  • 10-11-10

a bit much

I am no prude, but the the amount of graphic sex was more than I needed. The story was wonderful and it made me think of political ideals, conservation and how a person is affected by all experiences in their lives. The characters were well developed and changed before my eyes. I enjoyed the book. I didn't think it dragged at all.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

WORTH A LISTEN, HOWEVER, REALLY LONG

Freedom is amusing. Franzen captures the time, the mood and the causes well. The story, however, didn't need to meander down every scene in the 1970's, 80's, 90's and turn of the millennium. Brutal editing would have improved the tale. Still, it is worth a listen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kris
  • Mosinee, WI, United States
  • 10-11-10

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