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Freedom: A Novel Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged

3.1 out of 5 stars 1,411 customer reviews

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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 alternate Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Jonathan Franzen is the author of The Corrections, winner of the 2001 National Book Award for fiction; the novels The Twenty-Seventh City and Strong Motion; and two collections of essays, How to Be Alone and The Discomfort Zone, all published by FSG. He lives in New York City.

David Ledoux has narrated a range of audiobooks, for which he has won and been nominated for several Audie and Earphones Awards. His work includes reading Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants, and Douglas Copeland's Hey Nostradamus!

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Product Details

  • Audio CD: 19 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio; Unabridged edition (August 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1427210497
  • ISBN-13: 978-1427210494
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 2 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,411 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #651,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Negative reviews get no love on Amazon, but, having been thoroughly taken in by the glowing reviews in the NYT, Time, the Economist, etc., I feel compelled to add a voice of dissent and caution.

I read and enjoyed The Corrections, so was looking forward to seeing what Franzen had been up to for the past 10 years. What he's been up to is, essentially, rewriting The Corrections, but extracting all the humor that leavened the misanthropic bleakness of his vision in the earlier work. Once again we're presented with an outwardly "perfect" nuclear Midwestern family that secretly consists of neurotic hysterics with low self-esteem who ultimately find themselves mired in infidelity and morally dubious business dealings. Once again the focus is on generational conflict, and the "sins of the fathers" revisited in the lives of the children.

Besides the lack of originality, the problem, in essence, is this time out I don't believe a single, solitary word of it. I don't believe in liberal middle-class parents who'd let their teenage son move in with their obnoxious Republican neighbors. I don't believe in a talented college athlete who'd let herself be hoodwinked for years by a ditzy, obsessive fan. I don't believe in a committed environmentalist who'd sign off on strip mining vast tracts of virgin forest in the name of reclaiming those tracts many years afterwards for a single-species preserve. I don't believe in a 19-year-old arms dealer making procurement purchases in Paraguay. I don't believe in a couple who remain married, but utterly incommunicado, for 6 years. I don't believe in a 47-year-old man with no religious convictions who is trying beer for the very first time, and is prone to bursting into tears on the least provocation. And that's just for starters.
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Format: Hardcover
Excellent writing when dealing with the painfully intimate and intricate details of adolescence, marriage, childrearing, infidelity and romantic yearnings. In fact, it approaches the true-to-life fictional style used so successfully by Tom Wolfe in the "Bonfire of the Vanities," and "A Man in Full."

Yet, this saga ominously hits a brick wall when it becomes enmeshed with any number of environomental, social and political issues (incluing mining and overpopulation) that seem to go on for far too long and which consume an excessive amount of time and space. Very "preachy", didactic and repetitive if you will.

As a result, we are confronted with a lengthy novel that is only partially rewarding. It is constucted on cycles of excitement and tedium which make for an erratic reading experience. You really have to invest a good deal of time and effort searching for the literary nuggets that make the effort worthwhile in the end.
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Format: Kindle Edition
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 Americans in their modern lives, people who reminded me of real people, a plot which kept me turning the pages of this compulsively readable, mostly entertaining novel. The tone is slightly condescending, as the quote above my review would suggest, mostly cynical, and ultimately hopeful by the end of the story, when his battered, bruised and bruising characters emerge from the wreckage of their lives, and bravely carry on.

In many ways this novel is similar to his previous work, The Corrections. I remember enjoying that novel a few years back, although I could not understand why the critics raved about it. Franzen proves yet again that he is a very good writer, building a complicated but workable plot, creating characters who are real, complex and often disappointing, showing us his American self-portrait in 2010. He reaches for a big theme, as the title implies, but he doesn't quite achieve his goal of demontrating the illusory nature of our freedom (or alternatively that all this freedom is killing us). Like Sophocles, Franzen seems to take a dim view of freedom. I probably should not compare Franzen to Sophocles, or other great writers, past or present. He has a genuine voice, a straightforward style, but he does not possess lyrical abilities, nor great thematic breadth.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about this book. This is the first book I've ever read by Franzen and although, for the most part, I enjoyed his prose, I absolutely HATED his characters. They were all miserable people doing miserable things to one another. Occasionally I would find myself becoming sympathetic towards a character only to then have them do something so awful that I would find myself loathing them again. Call me old fashioned, but I have a hard time enjoying a book when I can't care about or root for at least one character. I will admit that Franzen turns it around a bit in the end. The last 80 pages or so I was finally compelled to FEEL for some of the characters and that was my favorite part of the book! If some of those good feelings could have been sprinkled throughout the other 500 pages of this tome I think I would have enjoyed it more. But overall this was a trying read for me. Some friends of mine have read this and absolutely loved it and they loved it for the exact same reason that I didn't. Maybe I'm just too positive and sunny of a person to allow myself to wallow in the miserableness for 500+ pages. Not that I'm trying to call my friends negative...oh geez, all this is just coming out wrong now...

Here's the gist:

- I enjoyed Franzen's evocative and painterly writing.
- I enjoyed the pop culture references which helped me feel like this story was truly of today's world, that these characters could actually be real.
- I didn't quite understand the passages that were supposed to be written as autobiography by the Patty character. Patty's autobiographical voice didn't seem any different from Franzen's voice, so that device didn't work for me.
- I wish the characters had been a bit more sympathetic throughout the story.
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