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Freedom [Kindle Edition]

Jonathan Franzen
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (218 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

“A masterpiece of American fiction”
Sam Tanenhaus, The New York Times Book Review

A novel from the author of The Corrections.

This is the updated version of the text.

This is the story of the Berglunds, their son Joey, their daughter Jessica and their friend Richard Katz. It is about how we use and abuse our freedom; about the beginning and ending of love; teenage lust; the unexpectedness of adult life; why we compete with our friends; how we betray those closest to us; and why things almost never work out as they ‘should’. It is a story about the human heart, and what it leads us to do to ourselves and each other.

In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom's intensely realized characters, as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.


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Review

'Head and shoulders above any other book this year: moving, funny and unexpectedly beautiful. I missed it when it was over' Sam Mendes, Observer, Books of the Year

'A cat's cradle of family life, and if the measure of a good book is it's afterburn, Freedom is a great book' Kirsty Wark Observer, Books of the Year

'I loved Freedom. His acute observations of emotional faultlines, his dialogue and above all his wry humour are delightful' Antony Beevor Sunday Telegraph, Books of the Year

'Franzen pulls off the extraordinary feat of making the lives of his characters more real to you than your own' David Hare, Guardian, Books of the Year

'No question about it: Freedom swept everything before it in intricately observed, humane, unprejudiced armfuls. There was no novel to touch it in 2010.' Philip Hensher, Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year

'Undoubtedly a great novel about America. Rarely has the land of the free been scrutinised with such a sharp but loving eye' Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year

'It had me absolutely hooked' Mark Watson, Observer, Books of the Year

'By the end of Freedom you may feel you understand its protagonists better than you know anyone in the world around you' Nicholas Hytner Evening Standard, Books of the Year

'The novel of the year. Its portrait of a marriage, luminously and wittily drawn against a backdrop of modern America, is as good as literature gets' Sarah Sands, New Statesman, Books of the Year

Review

'Head and shoulders above any other book this year: moving, funny and unexpectedly beautiful. I missed it when it was over' Sam Mendes, Observer, Books of the Year 'A cat's cradle of family life, and if the measure of a good book is it's afterburn, Freedom is a great book' Kirsty Wark Observer, Books of the Year 'I loved Freedom. His acute observations of emotional faultlines, his dialogue and above all his wry humour are delightful' Antony Beevor Sunday Telegraph, Books of the Year 'Franzen pulls off the extraordinary feat of making the lives of his characters more real to you than your own' David Hare, Guardian, Books of the Year 'No question about it: Freedom swept everything before it in intricately observed, humane, unprejudiced armfuls. There was no novel to touch it in 2010.' Philip Hensher, Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year 'Undoubtedly a great novel about America. Rarely has the land of the free been scrutinised with such a sharp but loving eye' Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year 'It had me absolutely hooked' Mark Watson, Observer, Books of the Year 'By the end of Freedom you may feel you understand its protagonists better than you know anyone in the world around you' Nicholas Hytner Evening Standard, Books of the Year 'The novel of the year. Its portrait of a marriage, luminously and wittily drawn against a backdrop of modern America, is as good as literature gets' Sarah Sands, New Statesman, Books of the Year

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 850 KB
  • Print Length: 562 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (23 Sept. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0044DE906
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • : Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (218 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,303 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Jonathan Franzen was born in 1959 and graduated from Swarthmore College. He has lived in Boston, Spain, New York, Colorado Springs and Philadelphia. His other novels are 'The Twenty-Seventh City', 'Strong Motion', and 'The Corrections'. He is also the author of 'How To Be Alone', a collection of non-fiction, and 'The Discomfort Zone', a memoir. His fiction and non-fiction appear frequently in the 'New Yorker' and 'Harper's', and he was named one of the best American novelists under forty by 'Granta' and the 'New Yorker'. He lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
... The first being The Corrections. Franzen continues to plough the same furrow in this one though. The philosophy of the 19th century German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, underlies both - in The Corrections through the youthful writings of the one-day family patriarch, Al Lambert, and here through the overpowering influence of a tired, amoral and charismatic musician called Richard Katz - and one imagines that that philosophy may be integral to Franzen's outlook more generally. However, in Freedom, the gloomy German thinker has a worthy opponent in the figure of one Walter Berglund, whose attempts to live out a modern, secular morality provide much of the book's narrative impetus and cultural interest. In other words, Freedom is essentially about the struggle to find a meaning in life, and, without giving too much away, it is Walter whose vision - suitably truncated - wins the day. Just.

As with The Corrections, the writing is something to behold. Franzen isn't one of those authors who shies from using big words. In his universe, Raymond Carver never existed. The odd thing is, you don't respect him any the less for it.

Shame on all those people, by the way, who gave this novel one or two stars. What is it that makes so many Amazon readers gang up against consciously intelligent books like Freedom? Stupidity? Envy? Resentment? A personal dislike of the author? All four? Actually, at the time of writing this review, EL James's Fifty Shades of Grey has a higher average star-rating on this site than Freedom, which can't be right.

Or can it? Schopenhauer wouldn't have been surprised!

Seriously though, ignore the snipes. If you value modern fiction, and you haven't read this yet, you should. And not just because it's "worthy". As quite a lot of the newspaper critics pointed out when it was first published, it's a real page-turner. Entertaining, in the best sense of the term.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Freedom to make mistakes ?? 22 Jan. 2012
By P. G. Harris TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
On page 361 (of the hardback edition) is the sentence, "You may be poor, but the one thing nobody can take away from you is the freedom to f*** up your life in whatever way you want to."

If you take away the reference to being poor and apply the sentence to middle class America, it would seem to be at the centre of this complex, highly readable and deeply human novel. The book circles around this statement as three generations of the Berglund family, their friends and associates use their differing degrees of freedom to make choices which sometimes turn out for the good but more often than not f*** up their lives and those of their children and parents. Therein is an alternative voice of the book which questions this freedom in the face the demands of family, friends and society.

At its heart are three people from the middle generation, Patty (nee Emerson) and Walter Berglund and itinerant rock musician, Richard Katz. This trio form a sort of double love triangle in which each is, in different ways, loved by the other two. It is the tensions and energy thrown off by these relationships which power the narrative drive of the novel.

The opening section introduces the Berglunds living in a gentrifying neighbourhood in Minnesota where they seem to be the perfect liberal middle class couple, environmentally aware paragons of the community. In this section Frannzen succinctly and brilliantly portrays the tensions and desires seething below the surface of a seemingly blandly civilised community.

The facade of this suburban idyll is shattered by the Berglund's son becoming precociously sexually attached to Connie, daughter of the not quite so middle class Carol.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligently downbeat and amusingly hard-nosed 1 Nov. 2012
Format:Paperback
Though hard work at first, as the characters are not especially appealing and one is bombarded with a huge amount of detailed information about their lives, persistence is rewarded. Gradually the outline of a fairly simple story becomes clear, centering on a liberal, East Coast, intelligent and middle-class family and in particular the dynamic between the neurotic wife Patty and her eager-beaver husband, Walter. The narrative perspective switches initially from that of Walter and his fraught life to that of his wife Patty and her self-obsessive concerns. The narrative voices of other people are also introduced, notably those of their children, Joey and Jessica - though Joey is far more convincing and others (such as Lalitha and Connie) are one-dimensional.

However, for me the book did not come alive until the willful rock musician, Richard Katz, enters the story. He is the lightening rod for the sense of spoilt boredom which encapsulates the entire family's lives. He epitomises the 'freedom' which Franzen implies we all tend to seek, though this is pitilessly shown to be self-indulgent and superficial. But at least things start to happen when Katz arrives on the scene. Unfortunately, according to Franzen, this shallow world is the dominant feature of modern America, except that most people are too ignorant to notice. Altruism, whether in the form of ecological action or the religious impulse, is merely another form of neediness. Love is a kind of desperate search for affirmation, security and/or pleasure. Everyone indulges their own emotional incontinence, unwilling to face up to a wider world beyond egotistical promptings.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
still reading! half way through and looking forward to my lunch break to get my next fix!
Published 11 days ago by Bethany
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant book, worth every penny
Published 1 month ago by Thomas
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
so dull and pointless
Published 1 month ago by Jules Dav
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
In excellent condition when it arrived
Published 1 month ago by Mary C
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Beautiful. Cannot recommend enough, Franzen writes in such an entertaining and informed manner
Published 2 months ago by Mr. Fred McLean
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Couldn't manage this one
Published 3 months ago by bishop
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful stuff from a great writer
This is up there with "The Corrections" in terms of depth, breadth and the characters. This is a bumper, action packed read covering family, love, relationships, ambition, the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by keen reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
First time for Franzen, won't be the last.
Published 4 months ago by Hugh
4.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary novel of love and marriage and freedom
I like Franzen’s books and this is no exception. Invariably thought provoking. Good language and characterisation. Patty and Walter Berglund. Walter is an environmental lawyer. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sandy Hogarth, author of The Glass Girl
4.0 out of 5 stars Can't deny it's compelling though like The Corrections
Frantzen's sour objective way of looking at his characters and their motivations grates a little after a while. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Great Book!
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