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Freedom: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club) by…

Freedom: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club) (original 2010; edition 2011)

by Jonathan Franzen

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,216302652 (3.78)258
Title:Freedom: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club)
Authors:Jonathan Franzen
Info:Picador (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 608 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (2010)

  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 by A. M. Homes (GCPLreader)
  6. 01
    The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (hairball)
    hairball: Similar tone.

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» See also 258 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 258 (next | show all)
This book dragged a little for me. Franzen is, of course, excellent with character development and I felt as though I knew each of his characters well. I didn't like any of them, which made it hard for me to care about any one of them or their problems, but I think that's the point. I can't remember a character in any of his books that I've actually liked, he's excellent at that. Though he still manages to make these unlikable people understandable and relatable. I also thought leaving Jessica's perspective out was a mistake. That would have added another layer that could have helped. Maybe I'm just not in the right place in my life to fully appreciate this novel, but it wasn't my favorite from Franzen so far. ( )
  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 |
I paid a dollar for this book at a book sale-I had seen the cover around quite a bit, but I had absolutely no expectations. I loved parts of this book; couldn't put it down at times. Towards the end it started to drag a little, but overall, I really enjoyed it. It's incredibly well written, and I didn't hate the characters as much it seems I should have/everyone else did. I loved the current cultural references - there were a few times that I thought "a person reading this in 50 years will not understand this reference." I felt a little thrill at the immortalization of our everyday lives in such a book. Dorky, I know. ( )
  carebear10712 | Dec 31, 2014 |
I really tried to like this book. Carried the tome all around with me and gave it a valiant effort, it really wants to be the great American novel. After plowing through over half the book, I was forcing myself to keep reading without caring anything about these wretched characters. The writing style is fine, the story moves along at times, but I didn't find myself hoping for, empathizing with, or understanding why we'd care about these people. I don't often put a book down, but I kept imagining all of the books I'd much rather be reading. I give. ( )
  asawyer | Dec 31, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 258 (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.
Franzen's daring has been to take on soap operas and HBO mini-series, demonstrating that if you want modern emotional dramas, the novel can provide them today as effectively as it did in the 19th century. But, he also offers something no HBO series can – the solitude and moral introspection of the novel, the beauty of prose, the imaginative love affair you form with characters you alone see in the way you see them. Freedom is the novel of the year, and the century.
added by Widsith | editThe Guardian, Jonathan Jones (Aug 23, 2010)

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Franzen, Jonathanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abarbanell, BettinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pareschi, SilviaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schönfeld, EikeTranslatorsecondary 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
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.
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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)

(summary from another edition)

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