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Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Freedom (2010)

by Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Franzen

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,783340544 (3.77)278
  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. 11
    Unless by Carol Shields (Cecilturtle)
  3. 11
    The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (hairball)
    hairball: Similar tone.
  4. 22
    In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (allenmichie)
  5. 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
  6. 22
    The Privileges by Jonathan Dee (BillPilgrim)
    BillPilgrim: Another modern family story. Jonathan Franzen recommended The Privileges to the New Yorker book club.
  7. 12
    May We Be Forgiven: A Novel by A. M. Homes (GCPLreader)

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» See also 278 mentions

English (295)  Spanish (18)  Dutch (11)  French (4)  German (3)  Swedish (3)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (339)
Showing 1-5 of 295 (next | show all)
I'm giving Franzen another try. I'm enjoying so-so so far.
  Joseph_W_Naus | Jul 20, 2016 |
This book was difficult to read for the first 7/8 of it. Not in the sense that its prose was heavy or that it fails to take hold of its reader, but that the subject matter becomes increasingly disturbing and depressing; so much so, that I was surrendering to the notion that it also may just end that way. It did not. I actually loved this book and its story of dysfunction; an honest exploration into today's challenges with familial relationships. There is a lot of infidelity and some rather cruel intentions, however, unlike some reviewers, I DID like the main characters in this book...despite their poor life-choices. It's real, believe me, and I loved it. ( )
  bpeters65 | Jul 16, 2016 |
In this ultimate US saga about families and relationships, Franzen plays with the concept of how, despite the freedom and choices available to us in a western democracy, human frailty still comes to the fore. We don't always use that freedom wisely; spoilt by it, we often choose those most selfish paths which ultimately lead to the demise of our own happiness.

Although a fairly long read (a few pages off 600), I loved this novel from the first page to the last, probably even more than I loved The Corrections which was a favourite read from last year. It worked because of its length, not in spite of it; Franzen was able to develop the relationships over periods of years, such that we could see the gradual fraying taking hold, and understand the complexities which led to certain decisions being made.

There is a lot of dialogue in this novel, which can be difficult to get right, yet Franzen totally nails it. He allows the reader to see his characters from all sides, intermingling their virtues with their flaws and capturing the essence of what it is to be human.

A large part of the novel is relayed to us in the form of a main character's manuscript written at her therapists instigation, and whilst some of the musings and memories couldn't have logically worked if you really thought about it, I loved the story too much to care.

5 stars - I have a serious book hangover this morning. ( )
  AlisonY | Jul 9, 2016 |
I was frustrated with the nonstop toxic, dysfunctional and hypocritical characters in this book up until Walter's paradigm shifting quote "... the one thing nobody can take away from you is the freedom to f up your life whatever way you want to". And that freedom is exercised to the fullest in this book. ( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
Maybe it's because I listened to this instead of reading it. Or maybe I'm just not ready for Franzen's second "great American novel."

I guess it doesn't matter. But if you see me with a Franzen novel, PLEASE STOP ME. I don't want to suffer again. ( )
  imahorcrux | Jun 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 295 (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 (75 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Franzen, Jonathanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Franzen, Jonathanmain 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
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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