- Series: Oprah's Book Club
- Paperback: 608 pages
- Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (September 27, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312576463
- ISBN-13: 978-0312576462
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,462 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Freedom: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club) Paperback – September 27, 2011
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“A masterpiece of American fiction.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“Mr. Franzen has written his most deeply felt novel yet--a novel that turns out to be both a compelling biography of a dysfunctional family and an indelible portrait of our times.” ―The New York Times
“A work of total genius.” ―New York Magazine
“The Great American Novel.” ―Esquire
“One of the best living American novelists.” ―Time
“Epic.” ―Vanity Fair
“Hugely ambitious . . . Freedom is very, very good.” ―USA Today
“Brilliant . . . Epic . . . An extraordinary stylist.” ―The Washington Post
“A surprisingly moving and even hopeful epic.” ―NPR
“Sweeping and powerful.” ―San Francisco Chronicle
“Consuming and extraordinarily moving.” ―Los Angeles Times
“Immense and unforgettable.” ―Chicago Tribune
“Devastatingly insightful.” ―The Miami Herald
“A page turner that engages the mind.” ―Newsday
“It's refreshing to see a novelist who wants to engage the questions of our time in the tradition of 20th-century greats like John Steinbeck and Sinclair Lewis . . . [This] is a book you'll still be thinking about long after you've finished reading it.” ―Associated Press
“Deeply moving and superbly crafted . . . It's such a full novel, rich in description, broad in its reach and full of wry observations.” ―Pittsburg Post-Gazette
“His writing is so gorgeous . . . Franzen is one of those exceptional writers whose works define an era and a generation, and his books demand to be read.” ―St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“A tour de force . . . one of the finest novelists of his generation.” ―The Philadelphia Inquirer
“A highly readable triumph of conventional realism . . . Addictive.” ―The National
“The first Great American Novel of the post-Obama era.” ―Telegraph (UK)
“A literary genius . . . This is simply on a different plane from other contemporary fiction . . . Freedom is the novel of the year, and the century.” ―The Guardian (UK)
“A triumph . . . A pleasure to read.” ―The New York Observer
“Exhilarating . . . Gripping . . . Moving . . . On a level with The Great Gatsby [and] Gone With the Wind.” ―Bloomberg
About the Author
Jonathan Franzen is the author of three novels―The Corrections, The Twenty-Seventh City, and Strong Motion―and two works of nonfiction, How to Be Alone and The Discomfort Zone, all published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He lives in New York City and Santa Cruz, California.
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Okay, Franzen does deal with freedom as a theme here and there, but the book should probably have been titled Dysfunction, and man, is it full of that in spades.
Structurally, this novel packs more subplots and minor characters into its pages than a Dickens tome. Fortunately, only a few of these become tedious, though some appear irrelevant, at least at the level of detail he presents. He also treats us to some truly idiosyncratic approaches to punctuation and capitalization--especially a liberal use of colons and parenthetical details set off in commas.
And talk about hooks and leaving the reader hanging? Franzen constantly jumps around in time, dropping one set of characters in favor of another, at least for the time being. See, he does return through flashbacks to pick up where he left off to fill us in. “Oh, so that’s what happened,” we say. And in some cases, the flashbacks jump through multiple generations. Yikes.
Further, he relishes triangles, the type that focus on love, sex, lust, and other human preoccupations that can become quite unhappy. He also gives us his takes on place, such as the upper Midwest, New York and its environs, and Washington DC and vicinity—hey, he spends much time in West Virginia and even South America. The characters change, grow, fade, and are re-reviewed and seen in new lights by their fellow characters from time to time as the plot progresses.
Patty's husband, Walter, head-over-heels with Patty, is overjoyed she chose him over his best friend, Richard, until a few years go by and the quotidian reality of marriage rears its ugly head.
The title FREEDOM is about the choices we make in life, the singular freedom Americans have that most people in the world don't; i.e, whom to marry, where to live, how to raise their children, according to custom, religion, traditions and rules. They don't have the responsibility our Freedoms afford and sometimes devastate us.
All the while, Freedom's pages quickly turn to reveal more about the Berglunds and their rebellious teenage children (are there any other kind?) This reader cares what happens to everyone, even the not so likeable.