Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul—the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter's dreams. Together with Walter—environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man—she was doing her small part to build a better world.
But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz—outré rocker and Walter's college best friend and rival—still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become "a very different kind of neighbor," an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street's attentive eyes?
In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom's 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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Like his earlier bestseller, The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom is epic in scale, providing a snapshot of America in the years just following 9/11. The white, middle-class, liberal Berglunds seem to have everything, but want even more. There’s a lot going on around them—from infidelity and the frustrations of middle age to the Iraq War, the population crisis, environmentalism, and celebrity culture. Franzen’s flawed but deeply relatable characters guide us through a complex plot that’s filled with dry wit and moments of genuine heartbreak. The Corrections was a tough act for any author to follow, but Freedom may be even better, confirming that Franzen is one of the most perceptive and empathetic novelists working today.
When Patty and Walter Berglund's teenage son moves in with their conservative neighbors and their perfect life in St. Paul begins to unravel, out spill family secrets clandestine loves, lies, compromises, failures. David Ledoux's masterly narration is powerful and well paced, comic and poignant. He expertly captures Walter and Patty with her anxious whinny of a laugh and their family life with its satisfactions and histrionics. Ledoux also deftly renders the gossiping of the Berglund's disingenuous neighbors; the frenetic rants of the drug-addled Eliza; and the weary, disaffected drawl of sleazy musician Richard. A Farrar, Straus, and Giroux hardcover (Reviews, July 5). \n
Great book, well written. Presents many thought provoking issues
Glad I didn't listen to the bad reviews
The two iBooks reviews I was able to read, (especially "steaming pile of garbage"), were so bad, I'm glad I ignored them because this was a thoroughly enjoyable book. I read "the Corrections" and "How to be Alone", I liked both books, but this is my favorite.
This is a great and important book to read. A true marvel.