Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Freedom (2010)

by Jonathan Franzen

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,295303633 (3.78)264
  1. 41
    The War Room by Bryan Malessa (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Both are 500+ page modern epics whose stories originate in the Midwest but this one moves far beyond the territory and scope of Freedom. Represented and sold by same agent as Franzen's book and same UK publisher.
  2. 21
    In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (allenmichie)
  3. 11
    Matrimony by Joshua Henkin (susiesharp)
    susiesharp: They are both about the lives of people you learn to care about yet don't always like
  4. 22
    The Privileges by Jonathan Dee (BillPilgrim)
    BillPilgrim: Another modern family story. Jonathan Franzen recommended The Privileges to the New Yorker book club.
  5. 01
    May We Be Forgiven: A Novel by A. M. Homes (GCPLreader)
  6. 01
    The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (hairball)
    hairball: Similar tone.

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 264 mentions

English (260)  Spanish (18)  Dutch (11)  French (4)  Swedish (3)  German (2)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (303)
Showing 1-5 of 260 (next | show all)
Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose, at least in song. In Jonathan Franzen's novel of the same name, it is a garrulous, possibly incoherent, concept that applies without restraint to everything from existential self-absorption to sexual monomania to political profiteering to small acts of defiance and large acts of indiscretion. In fact, just about anywhere there is a gaping hole in the internal coherence of character or plot, motivation or understanding, Franzen drops in the F-word to backfill the landscape.

If you can ignore the conceptual grandstanding, then the novel consists in following the lives of three people who meet in college and whose life trajectories repeatly bring them into contact with each other over many years. They have disparate backgrounds. They have disparate motivations. They have disparate talents. But they share an indefatigable power for love and self harm. Indeed, and rather unfortunately, when you strip away the contingent superficialities they seem to share one voice. Which could mean that Franzen has latched on to the universal but more likely means he doesn't really have different characters here at all.

Amongst the many dissatisfying aspects of this novel, two deserve mention here: the inexplicable moral vacuum found in Joey, the son of two of the main characters, and the level of anger and despair found in each of the main characters. The reader is bludgeoned by rants and hectoring but dubious moralising couched in the form of one-sided conversations. At some point it all seems a bit one note and you can't help losing interest or even caring what happens.

Perhaps this was intended to be one of those weighty novels that capture the Zeitgeist or come to define America. If so, I think it does not succeed. Or perhaps it really is a novel with nothing left to lose. Not recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Jul 14, 2015 |
The first question buzzing around my head is a somewhat unworthy one, but I can't help asking why was this book so long? Was it necessary that it be this long to tell this story? The second question is about the narrative choice to have the main character, Patty Berglund, tell parts of the story as a (therapeutic) autobiography, but written in the third person (Patty did this, she did that)? The problem is that it melts into other narratives, a sort of middle-third-distance, stories of the rest of the family: the two children, Jessica and Joey and husband Walter and problematical best friend, Richard (who is family of a sort). Later this autobio plays a role in what plot there is, or at least, at moving the story along. . . . It didn't exactly not work, this method, and now that I'm finished, I can see that I've gotten the whole entire story of the Berglund clan and a few others besides, and I find I can't answer either of these questions. I can see Franzen's purpose is to show a complicated person developing into middle age,(and, sheesh) wisdom, and forgiveness and I can understand that he wanted the reader (me) to see Patty from every possible angle and to see how families repeat behaviours, how behaviours can turn up embedded in a life that, on the outside, looks quite different. I liked [The Corrections] better, but this might be more mature in some ways. If you like a long complicated domestic novel, full of humor and smart observation, that changes pace, but never gets boring, always requires you to pay attention, you'll enjoy it. *** 1/2 ( )
  sibyx | Apr 23, 2015 |
This book dragged a little for me, but it's Franzen so I knew it would going into it. (Sometimes it's like his whole goal is just to make you suffer.) It's preachy, snooty, and melodramatic. It paints a pretty dismal portrait of the modern American experience (for the privileged class, at least) and it's full of "big picture" questions like: “What is freedom?” “What is the price we pay for freedom?” and, “Am I an asshole?" I can answer the last one with an emphatic "yes." Freedom is the story of an asshole couple, their asshole friend, their asshole kids, and their asshole neighbors. It will remind you of at least a dozen assholes you know IRL.

But...that's the point, so whatever. I hated it, but not because it's bad; I hated it because you're supposed to. That's what we do, right? We're a society of disingenuous, self-absorbed assholes, pseudo intellectuals, and haters. Sigh. I'll give him that, it's hard to talk about why you don't like this book without it looking like you're proving his point. *shakes fist, mutters "Franzen!"*

Jonathan Franzen excels at writing characters who are just the worst, and the characters in Freedom are a prime example. Though thoroughly unlikeable, he's an expert at character development, so I felt as though I knew each of them well. They're flawed, layered, and almost unbearably real, reminding us that while we might not like what we see in them, we certainly recognize traces of them in ourselves.

Aside from the jerk factor, this book's one major shortcoming is the total lack of Jessica's perspective. Leaving her out was an enormous mistake and one that I'm just kind of confused about. Franzen included Joey's weirdo story line, Jessica's would have provided a nice counterbalance. Or maybe not, maybe she would have been even more infuriating. In any case, it's total absence was strange and disappointing. But...whatever. I'm over it. ( )
  cattylj | Feb 28, 2015 |
A David Foster Wallace -ish story of a bleeding heart man, his wife, and his rock n rolling best friend, along with descriptions of their families going generations back. Very funny at times, and pretty good overall, but I much preferred the opening chapters.

After this, I picked up The a Corrections, and found I didn't like it at all. I guess just once for Franzen's tone was enough for me. ( )
  br77rino | Feb 10, 2015 |
A whirlwind of emotions. The book spans a long period of time, and a long list of settings, as well of a long list of themes. ( )
  tpollack | Jan 11, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 260 (next | show all)
One keeps waiting for something that will make these flat characters develop in some way, and finally the Nice Man is struck by a great blow of fate. But rather than write his way through it, Franzen suspends things just before the moment of impact, then resumes Walter’s story six years later—updating us with the glib aside that the event in question “had effectively ended his life.” A writer’s got to know his limitations, but this stratagem is clumsy enough to make one want to laugh for the first time in the book. It certainly beats the part where a wedding ring is retrieved from a bowl of feces.
added by danielx | editAtlantic, BR Myers (May 13, 2012)
Franzen is an amateur ethnographer impersonating a fiction writer. His novel is overstuffed with finger-puppet characters and the clutter of contemporary life: there's no reason to know that someone is wearing "Chinese-made sneakers" or that someone else watches Pirates of the Caribbean during a transatlantic flight. Freedom is crammed as well with rants passed off as dialogue and dialogue that either serves no narrative purpose or reeks of research done in the lifestyle pages of the New York Times.
added by lorax | editThe Nation, John Palatella (Nov 15, 2010)
The freedom of Freedom isn't freedom of choice, it's freedom from it; not an expansion but a narrowing. The book's movement is from the abyss of the abstract to the surety of the concrete, from the potential to the actual. You get there not by reinventing yourself in the American vein, by hatching a plan or heading west or donning a disguise. You do it by going home again, by seeing, as if for the first time, what you've already done, and claiming it as your own.
added by zhejw | editHarper's, Christine Smallwood (pay site) (Nov 1, 2010)
I didn't buy one of the characters, I didn't buy one of the plot twists, I found the stuff about a Halliburton-esque company rather convoluted and I was completely absorbed by the rest. Without question, Freedom is a book that grabs hold of you. When I was in the middle, I thought of its characters even while I wasn't reading about them, and when I was reading it, I read several lines aloud to my husband.

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Franzen, Jonathanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abarbanell, BettinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carlsen, MonicaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pareschi, SilviaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schönfeld, EikeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Go together, you precious winners all; your exultation partake to everyone. I, an old turtle, will wing me to some withered bough, and there, my mate, that's never to be found again, lament till I am lost.
The Winter's Tale ----
To Susan Golomb & Jonathan Galassi
First words
The news about Walter Berglund wasn't picked up locally -- he and Patty had moved away to Washington two years earlier and meant nothing to St. Paul now -- but the urban gentry of Ramsey Hill were not so loyal to their city as not to read the New York Times.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
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. [Amazon.co.uk]
Haiku summary
What does Freedom mean?
Free to use, free to preserve
Free to love, to live

No descriptions found.

(see all 2 descriptions)

The idyllic lives of civic-minded environmentalists Patty and Walter Berglund come into question when their son moves in with aggressive Republican neighbors, green lawyer Walter takes a job in the coal industry, and go-getter Patty becomes increasingly unstable and enraged.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
75 avail.
625 wanted
8 pay13 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.78)
0.5 7
1 62
1.5 9
2 143
2.5 44
3 317
3.5 134
4 636
4.5 156
5 465


2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 98,432,575 books! | Top bar: Always visible