Freedom

Freedom

Book - 2010
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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
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780374158460
0374158460
9780312600846
0312600844
9780312576462
Characteristics: 562 p. ; 24 cm

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I just finished it and I’m having serious book withdrawal! It was a world I did not want to leave behind, even after all 562 pages. His earlier work, The Corrections, was on my best-ever list but this one topped it. The story follows the Berglund family and their good friends, lovers and neighbours across a few decades, right up to the Obama era. It was unnerving the way I recognized these people, even saw myself in them to the point of discomfort at times. (Oh no, that’s what I do!) I was taken deeply into a into a tangle of complex relationships, politics and emotion, but left with a satisfying, but unpredictable resolution. If you like dense, brilliant writing, highly perceptive social commentary and astounding insight into urban family life and people’s behaviour, you might love this book as well. (submitted by LC)

HCL_staff_reviews Jul 27, 2018

Dense, literary novels aren't usually "page turners", but I couldn't put this down! Franzen displays a mastery of the English language and amazing insight into the human psyche. — John K., Eden Prairie Library

t
theamazingandy
Jun 26, 2017

One of my favorite books of all time. If you enjoy thrillers, whodunits, or non-stop plot turns keep looking. This is a completely character driven story, giving you a ringside seat to their thoughts - the insecurities, dreams, fears, self-torture, wonder, ambivalence, sexual weirdness, and the desperate need to be cool and desired that we thought was our idiosyncratic, private shame. Sex, fights, break-ups, love, lust, boredom, treachery, diversion, all against the backdrop of our steady progression towards middle age and irrelevance. I can identify with several of these characters at some point in my life, to some degree, whether or not I would admit it. I am an avid reader serious, well-reviewed, and award winning fiction, but also yearly top 10 lists, and every genre. This book is easily in my top ten, and it is reminiscent of Eggers, and second only to The Corrections.

e
Ethan_Annis
Jul 13, 2016

For me Freedom, published in 2010, served as a coda for the time described by Frank Rich as the decade of the zeros. (The 1980’s were called the 80’s, the 1990’s were called the 90’s…) Franzen captures the time when things were done without a regard for the consequences. Americans were “free” but had no regard for how their choices affected others. This was true both at the level of individuals and at the level of the entire nation.

Franzen’s epic novel follows the Berglund family as they become corrupted and gradually find their ways back to integrity. The father, directing a non-profit environmental conservation organization, finds himself an enabler for a wealthy man who wants to strip mine for coal (mountain top removal). In his mind this is a good thing. The mother slashes her neighbor’s tires and has an affair. The son becomes a war profiteer. Meanwhile at a national level two wars are begun while taxes are cut.

The characters in Freedom eventually return to a state of integrity, where they are considering the wider consequences of their actions and there is a reckoning. The fate of the country isn’t resolved but Franzen’s description is the most vivid of our current state that I’ve read.

5
57Bing
Oct 27, 2015

The book is deeply unsatisfying with caricatures rather than characters, endless verbiage and no message or point to it all. I really like Franzen ("Strong Motions" and "The Corrections" and his essays "How to be Alone") but he really needs a severe editor to keep him in line now. I only finished it through stubbornness and cannot recommend it.

r
rachelbard
Oct 09, 2015

Didn't finish. Somehow it failed to hold my interest, as his previous books did.

s
simple6
Jan 04, 2015

Fascinating. Characters come alive and are exposed completely, making them very real, very real... My favorite character had the same environmental principles as I do, but acted on them. Fascinating.

c
Chapel_Hill_KenMc
Dec 22, 2014

Complex story of marriage, infidelity, and maturity. Freedom as a concept is explored in various ironic guises, never escaping from the imperative of responsible behavior. Any freedom that most of these characters experience is always haunted by the weight of hypocrisy and self-delusion.

natasha_pima Sep 05, 2014

Great book!

b
becker
Jul 05, 2014

This is a very interesting and enjoyable read. This book is very character driven with heavy dialogue which carries you through page after page of the story. A lot happens in this book and it moves smoothly and steadily along in a linear plot line that manages to keep you engaged from begining to end

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Notices

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Crheneghan Feb 03, 2011

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.

Crheneghan Feb 03, 2011

Coarse Language: This title contains Coarse Language.

Crheneghan Feb 03, 2011

Violence: This title contains Violence.

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marishkajuko
Jun 20, 2011

marishkajuko thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Crheneghan Feb 03, 2011

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FrozenMango
Nov 17, 2010

Patty and Walter's children grow up in a family that is troubled by the love triangle of Patty, Walter and Richard.

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sky123
Mar 26, 2018

"Lalitha was better than Patty. This was simply a fact. But Walter felt that he would sooner die than acknowledge this obvious fact to Patty, however much he might turn out to love Lalitha, and however unworkable his life with Patty had become, he loved Patty in some wholly other way, some larger and more abstract but nevertheless essential way that was about a lifetime of responsibility; about being a good person." p.304

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