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Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Freedom (2010)

by Jonathan Franzen

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,667371690 (3.78)297
  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
    Matrimony by Joshua Henkin (susiesharp)
    susiesharp: They are both about the lives of people you learn to care about yet don't always like
  3. 00
    A Friend of the Earth by T. C. Boyle (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Umweltschützer
  4. 11
    Unless by Carol Shields (Cecilturtle)
  5. 22
    In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (allenmichie)
  6. 22
    The Privileges: A Novel by Jonathan Dee (BillPilgrim)
    BillPilgrim: Another modern family story. Jonathan Franzen recommended The Privileges to the New Yorker book club.
  7. 11
    The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (hairball)
    hairball: Similar tone.
  8. 12
    May We Be Forgiven by A. M. Homes (GCPLreader)

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» See also 297 mentions

English (325)  Spanish (18)  Dutch (11)  French (5)  Swedish (3)  German (3)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Catalan (1)  Finnish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (371)
Showing 1-5 of 325 (next | show all)
It ended up being a much larger, more sprawling story than I'd anticipated at the outset. I haven't read The Corrections (yet), so this was my first taste of Franzen. The characterizations are masterful, his wit is biting and often hilarious, and I did feel all the emotional turmoil of each character. I also feel like more of an adult, somehow, having read it. Very few books engross me and, I think, change me the way this one did. ( )
  xiaomarlo | Apr 17, 2019 |
Jonathan Franzen's Freedom follows the lives of middle-class couple Patricia and Walter Berglund, their children and close relatives and friends. Set in the American mid-west at the beginning of the twenty-first century the reader learns about Patricia's and Walter's marriage and their marital problems. The novel illustrates the ups and downs of love and family life in a frighteningly realistic fashion and provides very detailed observations about the characters and their motives. The power dynamic in Patty's and Walter's relationship shifts several times. After they first meet, Patty is everything for Walter while she is more interested in Walter's friend Richard. Although they marry eventually, they never seem overly happy in their relationship. Whenever Walter's friend steps back into their lives Patty is reminded of her feelings for Richard. Growing further apart, Walter loses interest in Patricia and after many events that affect their relationship they finally separate. In the end, Patty becomes active in trying to reconcile with Walter.

"The personality susceptible to the dream of limitless freedom is a personality also prone, should the dream ever sour, to misanthropy and rage."

I liked the novel most for its observations on relationships and the concept of personal freedom. While the dynamics in relationships are often hard to understand from the outside they are also not always completely comprehensible from the inside. Relationships can be complicated and messy and at the same time they can be the best thing that ever happened to you and the glue that holds your life together. Working out the perfect amount of personal freedom while in a relationship can be very difficult, sometimes even impossible, but it might just be the right amount of personal freedom that makes a relationship work. In that respect, Franzen's novel can provide you with a deeper insight about your own thoughts on personal freedom and your idea of what you want in a good relationship.

All in all, Freedom was a very good book that I enjoyed a lot. 4 stars. ( )
  OscarWilde87 | Mar 2, 2019 |
There are a number of fault lines throughout the book. An ill bent cold kept me home for two days and I read the majority of the novel in a pair of sweeping bursts. The characters oscillate into focus to push the narrative but feel, all too often, as just that: literary devices.

I am anxious to hear the reports of friends, one of whom, my best friend, suggested this enterprise. I admitted on our site for literary discussions that I encounter a vertigo when reading contemporary american fiction. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
A work of vast scope and enormous contrast. Flawed, sometimes heinous characters, and yet every one is sometimes sympathetic; grim and unbearably depressing picture of our times, yet somehow uplifting and hopeful; a literary novel that is yet a work of social realism; dense, complex prose that yet keeps you totally enthralled and turning the pages.

Impossibly good. Genius. ( )
  JackMassa | Jan 24, 2019 |
This is a very well written book about family dynamics within the cultural and historical context of late 20th/early 21st century USA. However, for long stretches it is very tough, even grueling, to read, as the characters are often very, very unpleasant to each other. It's skillful and well plotted, even believable in terms of the family members' interactions, but how long to you want to soak in it? Also, many of the characters had, as I experienced them, just a touch of caricature about them, which over 600 pages took its toll on me, as well. Hard to know how to rate this novel, all in all. I think I'm going with 3 1/2 stars. ( )
  rocketjk | Jan 1, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 325 (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 (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Franzen, Jonathanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abarbanell, BettinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Abelsen, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carlsen, MonicaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pareschi, SilviaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schönfeld, EikeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strick, CharlotteCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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
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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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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

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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)

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