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Freedom: A Novel

A book by Jonathan Franzen

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FREEDOM IS NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN - AUDIO REVIEW

  • Oct 19, 2010
  • by
Rating:
+4

Well remembered for his masterful readings of such titles as "Water For Elephants" and "The Second Horseman," David Ledoux gives a praiseworthy narration of FREEDOM, a story in which he's required to portray many characters. As has been said, "His voice inhabits the characters' psyches, sharing their loves, fears, and anxieties. Ledoux gives a vibrant performance, imbuing each character with a unique voice and tone." How true!

The winner of two AudioFile Earphones Awards Ledoux presents listeners with a varied cast of characters, each very different, each intriguing in his or her own way. FREEDOM is 25 hours of pure listening pleasure.

However, one cannot say the story is always pure pleasure but rather thought provoking, a mini look at our shared history as it highlights Patty and Walter Berglund, a once perfect couple now trying to come to terms with a very changed world. The pair have renovated an old home among other badly in need of repair homes in Ramsey Hill, a section of St. Paul. Patty is the sunshine in their neighborhood, "a sunny carrier of sociological pollen, an affable bee," always busy doing good - sharing a platter of cookies, bringing a small bouquet of flowers. Walter is her perfect companion, a lawyer so decent, so honest that he almost glows with good will, philanthropy, and a commitment to the environment (he commutes by bicycle each day).

Yet, is it not possible that the Berglunds are uncomfortable with their good fortune, somehow trying to deserve their gifts? Also, is it not possible that such meritorious devotion to the good might later manifest itself as overwrought zeal?

Their idyllic life begins to shatter when their bright, doted upon son, Joey, leaves home to live with a neighbor described as one wearing "a Vikings jersey with his work boots unlaced and a beer can in his fist."

The author takes us through the years with the Berglunds as each ages, remembering the pasts that formed them, questioning what they believed to be true, and becoming increasingly confounded by the time in which they now live. They change, remarkably so, as has our world. Jonathan Franzen is brilliant and FREEDOM is not to be forgotten.

- Gail Cooke

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More Freedom: A Novel reviews
review by . September 09, 2010
I read "Freedom" in two days over the Labor Day weekend. I've structured this review in two parts - impressions that I jotted down while reading it, with a few paragraphs that try to provide a synthesis      Scattered observations:      *Writers probably can't ever ditch certain fundamental aspects of their style. With David Foster Wallace it's the slightly manic, ever-looping association of ideas as his brain connects his current thought …
review by . October 04, 2010
  Freedom has the two-and-a-half-dimensional feel of reality television. I enjoy reading it, but I'm not convinced that any of the characters (especially Patty) is really so good at taking punches. I read this book as I might Greek mythology. Franzen the jovial God, getting kicks out of kicking his characters but never quite believing any of them could ever really exist. I don't believe any of them could exist either, but then again, who cares?    It's definitely …
Quick Tip by . February 09, 2011
I'm just not a Franzen fan. This is my second attempt and I can't find a toehold in his work. Am I the only one??
review by . February 10, 2011
Too many of the pivotal scenes in Freedom have a ridiculousness to them. They are just real enough that the characters seem in earnest, but sufficiently unreal that they seem to be part of a joke. The book is infused with politics, but Freedom is never clear in revealing whether Franzen is trying to parody or to portray “intellectual” lefties who bungle basic economic ideas. Nor can I tell whether he is aiming for reality or satire with his “greedy” righties. The politics …
review by . August 31, 2010
I will avoid the plot review, because so many others seem compelled to summarize, and the repetition becomes tiresome. I enjoyed this novel, and I think you will too. I gave it four stars because it is not perfect, but it is better than most current fiction. Franzen may be a "serious" writer, but he is also highly readable, with an interesting story that can be enjoyed for itself alone, absent any considerations of literary aspirations.    This is a big, rambling tale of modern …
review by . September 16, 2010
Franzen's long-awaited fourth novel - it's been nine years since his National Book Award winning The Corrections - stands up to the anticipation. Mining similar territory - educated middle-class dysfunctional families - at pretty much the same length, Franzen uses his acerbic wit, unsparing insight, and deep sympathy to draw the reader into the fraught lives of his characters.    The book opens with an introductory portrait of the Berglunds, Patty and Walter; a summation of their …
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Gail Cooke ()
Ranked #138
Member Since: Nov 1, 2008
Last Login: Aug 19, 2012 07:37 PM UTC
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"Freedom"
is Oprah Winfrey's 64th pick for September and places Franzen in a special category: The rare author to have more than one book in her club, the first being "The Corrections" back in 2001. 

Amazon Best of the Month, August 2010: "The awful thing about life is this:" says Octave to the Marquis in Renoir'sRules of the Game. "Everyone has his reasons." That could be a motto for novelists as well, few more so than Jonathan Franzen, who seems less concerned with creating merely likeable characters than ones who are fully alive, in all their self-justifying complexity.Freedomis his fourth novel, and, yes, his first in nine years since The Corrections. Happy to say, it's very much a match for that great book, a wrenching, funny, and forgiving portrait of a Midwestern family (from St. Paul this time, rather than the fictional St. Jude). Patty and Walter Berglund find each other early: a pretty jock, focused on the court and a little lost off it, and a stolid budding lawyer, besotted with her and almost burdened by his integrity. They make a family and a life together, and, over time, slowly lose track of each other. Their stories align at times with Big Issues--among them mountaintop removal, war profiteering, and rock'n'roll--and in some ways can't be separated from them, but what you remember most are the characters, whom you grow to love the way families often love each other: not for their ...
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Details

ISBN-10: 0374158460
ISBN-13: 978-0374158460
Author: Jonathan Franzen
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Date Published: August 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
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