I came to the pc this Friday evening, midnight thirty, to look up more Franzen writing, having just finished The Corrections. If you are reading this, I beg you to disregard some of the downbeat reviews submitted by other readers and believe the general acclaim that has greeted this wonderful book. I rate this huge, wonderful, funny, touching, involving novel right up there with other recent great reads, from Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin to Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible. It is, as intelligent reviewers have commented, so distinctive that any comparisons risk being misleading, but it's not a million miles off the mark to say that there is a whiff of Catch 22 in the author's virtuoso handling of his material. As I experienced it, this is a book, like all great novels, about the extraordinary canvas of human life. It focuses on an ageing couple - their twilight years sympathetically, sometimes hilariously, portrayed - and on the three startlingly different adults who were once there children (and whom the mother wants to reunite for one last Christmas together in the family home). Over the course of a gloriously big book that is not a page too long, Franzen interleaves the stories of his characters with a sureness of touch that reminded me of Saul Bellow and Humboldt's Gift: the narrative at any given time is so involving that you only realise when a storyline is resumed that you actually left a situation many pages back in order to focus on another situation that has completely absorbed you... Ultimately, no theme is left unresolved in this hugely rewarding modern symphony of a novel. The prose is a joy - never a need to reread a single poorly formed sentence in over 600 pages (only an urge to reread some of the most insightful and wonderfully observed paragraphs in recent fiction); the dialogue and characterisation are terrific; the themes relevant to anyone who calls himself/herself a human being. Tremendous. Do yourself a favour and read it.