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Freedom by [Franzen, Jonathan]
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Freedom Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 259 customer reviews

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Length: 572 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

Praise for "Freedom""Jonathan Franzen's new novel, "Freedom", like his previous one, "The Corrections", is a masterpiece of American fiction . . . "Freedom" is a still richer and deeper work--less glittering on its surface but more confident in its method . . . Like all great novels, "Freedom" does not just tell an engrossing story. It illuminates, through the steady radiance of its author's profound moral intelligence, the world we thought we knew."--Sam Tanenhaus, "The New York Times Book Review" (cover review) "Writing in prose that is at once visceral and lapidary, Mr. Franzen shows us how his characters strive to navigate a world of technological gadgetry and ever-shifting mores, how they struggle to balance the equation between their expectations of life and dull reality, their political ideals and mercenary personal urges. He proves himself as adept at adolescent comedy as he is at grown-up tragedy; as skilled at holding a mirror to the world his people inhabit day by dreary

"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

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""

"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

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: 2645 KB
  • Print Length: 572 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0374158460
  • 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
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 259 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,031 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By P. G. Harris TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 Jan. 2012
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A story about a fairly average middle class american family told over a long timeline - normally this would be enough for me to not bother with a book. However, I have read other books by Jonathan Franzen and enjoyed them, so I gave this a go.

The story revolves around a couple called Patty and Walter. The point of view and timeline jump about, to tell the story from all sorts of angles. Over the course of the book you develop a deep understanding for the characters, which most modern novels can not get near to. You could argue that you get to know the characters better than they know themselves because you find out what made them how they are and how other people see them.

There are a few themes that run through the story, the most intriguing one for me being how relationships develop over time and whether animal attraction is more important than suitability of partners. It's hard to say much more without spoilers but there is a lot of meaning under the surface of this book.

This is a very long book, which gives space to really develop the lead characters and show them age over time. I would say that there are some bits of the book that feel a bit flabby and could benefit from being trimmed down. For instance, there are quite a lot about preservation of mountain birds in the middle, which does not really add anything to the story and may have been better suited to a magazine article rather than add extra pages to a book that is already quite hefty.

That little moan aside, the book is great. It is a very satisying story. Everyone in it is fully rounded and three dimensional and by the end I really cared what happened to them.
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Format: Hardcover
Ten years after "The Corrections", Franzen finally comes up with the 562 pages of the follow-up, "Freedom". Such an evocative and multilayered, if unimaginative, title, shows that Franzen is up for the inevitable Great American Novel considerations. It's a lot like its predecessor in being a panoramic view of an average middle-class American family, here the Berglunds, moving back and forward in time to show how they became what they are, and each generation's interactions with the next. Then there's all the environmental stuff: the father of the Berglund family, Walter, is a conservationist nut, albeit one who's kind of in bed with the coal industry for a while: cue much soul-searching.

Over a third of the book is told from Walter's wife Patty's point of view, but she's writing in third person, on her therapist's suggestion. This gives rise to the one glaring technical fault with the book: her voice is exactly the same as Franzen's own omniscient narrator's voice: arch, amusedly distant, and so forth. That means it's still fun to read, but it's easy to forget, and hard to accept, that it's supposed to be Patty writing. There's also comment on the Iraq war, 9/11, lots of anti-consumerist stuff. There's a secondary character called Jonathon, a very conscientious young man, vocally anti-war - I'm guessing his first name's not accidental.

Another qualm I had about "Freedom" is the dialogue. Franzen is very good at dialogue, his dialogue is very contemporary, he's up with all the latest slang, but he goes too far in this direction in this book, for me. The dialogue is too quirky, too many little nuances and plays on words, people don't talk like that.

Overall, this book is a bit self-consciously engaging in all of the hot-button problems of our times.
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