Amazon Best of the Month, August 2010
: "The awful thing about life is this:" says Octave to the Marquis in Renoir's Rules 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. Freedom
is 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 charm or goodness, but because they have their reasons, and you know them. --Tom Nissley
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
When Patty and Walter Berglund's teenage son moves in with their conservative neighbors and their perfect life in St. Paul begins to unravel, out spill family secrets--clandestine loves, lies, compromises, failures. David Ledoux's masterly narration is powerful and well paced, comic and poignant. He expertly captures Walter and Patty--with her anxious whinny of a laugh--and their family life with its satisfactions and histrionics. Ledoux also deftly renders the gossiping of the Berglund's disingenuous neighbors; the frenetic rants of the drug-addled Eliza; and the weary, disaffected drawl of sleazy musician Richard. A Farrar, Straus, and Giroux hardcover (Reviews, July 5). (Sept.) (c)
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