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Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Freedom (2010)

by Jonathan Franzen

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,366310613 (3.78)271
  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. 10
    Unless by Carol Shields (Cecilturtle)
  3. 21
    In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (allenmichie)
  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. 11
    The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (hairball)
    hairball: Similar tone.
  6. 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
  7. 01
    May We Be Forgiven: A Novel by A. M. Homes (GCPLreader)

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» See also 271 mentions

English (267)  Spanish (18)  Dutch (11)  French (4)  Swedish (3)  German (2)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (310)
Showing 1-5 of 267 (next | show all)
Franzen writes dialogue exceptionally well and it's the one real pleasure of this long novel. But I didn't find the characters persuasive - they seemed too much parts of one man's imagination and too little like living people - and I also found a pervasive sense of slightly clammy unresolved issues with women. And ultimately it doesn't seem to be about anything - which would be OK if the reader cared about the characters and their lives. ( )
1 vote MGPrelec | Sep 3, 2015 |
A novel about your typical, white, middle-class, privileged family with your typical problems.

This book received quite a bit of hype when it first came out, even making itself onto Oprah's 2010 book club selection. I mean, it has an introspective look at what the typical middle-class family's troubles might go through, from the wee beginnings of father issues over many generations and its repetitive cycle as the younger generation comes of age. For all of that, it really lives up to its promise. It's not a bad book by any means. Franzen is a good writer, and writes about issues that are extremely relatable.

Granted, that's about all it offers. If you're looking for a story that will offer some sort of redemption to its characters, then try something else. I hardly found any characters that were worth liking. Everyone was just depressing. Not to mention that nearly all the female characters in the book were focused on the men. Ultimately, I found myself wanting to finish because I wanted to know what happened at the end. And really, the only interesting thing that happens is that a cat dies.

Now the hype that surrounds the book may be a bit over done, but that's not the fault of the book, nor the author, but is more symptomatic of our own culture.

Not a bad book by any means. But not a great book either. ( )
2 vote jms001 | Aug 25, 2015 |
Well. This one took me a long time to read. I actually got it almost a year ago, as a gift, and for whatever reason I didn't start it for a long time, and then when I did finally pick it up, I plodded along with it much longer than I normally do with an engaging novel. So, was it engaging? I guess it was, in the end, since I did make it all the way through. But it was a tough go at times. I actually read "The Art of Fielding" in between, and there are many comparisons between that book's author, Chad Harbach, and this book, I guess in its style, its characterizations, its tone. I guess I see that, but I just spun through "Fielding" in no time flat, while I often found myself mired in "Freedom." I'm not too sure what it was, but I think there was a lot of extraneous plotting that kind of veered off the main course of the story, and didn't feel entirely relevant to me. All the science stuff, about mountain top removal and overpopulation, well, it probably makes me a bad person, or at least some kind of snoozy ignoramus, but I just didn't care about it. There were things in the story I didn't buy, and I guess I couldn't get past them. But, like I said, I did finish the book, and that's saying something. And, after I was done, I found myself looking at the descriptions of Franzen's other novels, and wondering if I should put them on hold at the library. So that's saying something else. ( )
  karenchase | Aug 20, 2015 |
Wayyyyy to detailed and trying. Two mentally unstable families produce a third unstable family. Very slow in getting to the crux of the story only to find a very boring story ( )
  nurse73 | Aug 14, 2015 |
I kept going back and forth on my rating of this book. I loved the beginning. The charaters and writing were interesting and the cultural commentary amusing. Towards the middle of the book, I just got annoyed. The political rants of one of the characters drove me crazy, not because of the content but because of the tone. I almost had to put the book down. However, by the end, everything came together and for the most part, the characters redeemed themselves. ( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 267 (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
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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)

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