Wednesday, October 27, 2010

137 - Freedom; Jonathan Franzen


  
The audio version of FREEDOM, narrated by David LeDoux is terrific. His voice had a way of immediately drawing you into the world of The Berglund family: Patty, Walter, Jessica and Joey. The Berglunds are part of the baby-boomer generation, and the first third of the book is narrated by Patty as the third person autobiographer (her therapist thought this would be good for her).

Patty and Walter met in college where Patty was a basketball star. Her career ended when she injured her knee. She wanted to marry, have two children and be a stay at home mother. Her life goal was to do a better job raising her children than her mother had done. Patty has had a long time attraction to her husband's college roommate Richard Katz, a former rock star. In addition, Patty has what seems like an unhealthy obsession with her son Joey. Although, early on, Joey's actions disappoint Patty and Walter, beginning in high school when he sleeps with the trashy neighbor's daughter, and then later moves in with the family. However, this will not be the only incident that causes stress in the lives of the Berglunds. Patty's depression is an issue throughout most of the novel.

Walter is very low key, and at least initially puts his needs aside, taking a job in the corporate world, to ensure that his wife and family are provided for. A lawyer and environmentalist, Walter too struggles with life issues, and a case of the "Is this all there is syndrome". An executive for a Nature Conservatory, he sees his home life crumbling around him, but doesn't seem to know what to do to make things better. Walter's issues with son Joey, are not all that different from some of the issues both Walter, and Patty experienced with their own parents.

Without sharing too much of the plot, FREEDOM is a multi-layered story, about personal FREEDOM: the "freedom" and consequences of ones personal life choices, whether it be: relationships, careers, child rearing, or life choices in general. The lives of the Berglund's seemed very realistic. The family was not always likable, but flaws and all they could be most any of our neighbors. I thought it was very interesting to see how although both Patty and Walter shunned the parenting style of their own mother and father, in the end their own lives, and issues were very similar, reinforcing the fact that we cannot always escape our past.

The audio book was great, but one complaint I had was that it seemed longer than necessary at times. The writing was terrific though, and at times, laugh-out-loud funny as well. If you enjoyed The Corrections (2001) by Franzen, then I think you will enjoy this novel as well. Both novels take place at least partially in the mid-west, and the Lambert's and their three children (Corrections), and the Berglund's, (Freedom), certainly have some similar dysfunction issues at the heart of each story. RECOMMENDED

RATING - 4/5 Stars - Audio Book


32 comments:

  1. Liking the story here as I will only get to the book eventually.

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  2. I didn't like The Corrections, so I have been fearful about picking this one up. Glad you liked it!

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  3. Nice review. I have not read Franzen but based on your review I may have to pick this one up.

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  4. I have yet to read one of Franzen's books. Great review.

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  5. There was so much controversy on this, so it's interesting to hear actual blogger's thoughts on it -- great review! I'm so bad at audio books, but I will definitely look into picking up the printed copy!

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  6. I'm glad to read your review. I've been wondering what "real" people think of this one.

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  7. Haven't been interested in reading this one but now I am thinking I should change my mind!

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  8. I did not like The Corrections, but I would still like to read Freedom. Perhaps I'll go for the audio book, too, as the physical book is quite hefty.

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  9. ooo, a fine review indeed! and I have been particularly curious about this book even though i own the Corrections but haven't read it yet - go figure. But I am very curious, curious most of all, about the writing, which you commend. So I'm going to have to have a peek at it and not wait 'til Christmas vacation, which isn't that far off actually!

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  10. Excellent review, Diane! I have still not listened to many audio books. And I haven't read anything by Franzen, but this book sounds quite good.

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  11. There have been some really mixed reviews on this one. I have decided to read the Corrections and see how I get on with that first.

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  12. You are right, the family's story sounds realistic.

    This sounds like a sad book :) Great review.

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  13. i love the cover of the book but was hoping there would be more in it the novel about the conservatory! Sounds like an interesting family dynamic!

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  14. I'm so glad to see a blog review for this one. I have Freedom on my Kindle, and I'm saving it for an upcoming trip to Minneapolis (I love to read stories where they're set!) I'm really looking forward to it, so I'm glad to see you enjoyed it.

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  15. I'm not sure if I want to try this one on audio or in print, but I'll definitely be reading it at some point. Thanks for the review!

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  16. I almost bought this one last week, and have been on the fence about it for awhile. This is actually the first review I have read, and it does sound like I need to read this one. I really enjoyed The Corrections, and this book sounds like it is in a similar vein. Great review! I am picking this one up next time I come across it!

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  17. I have had this on my wish list and then I take it off. I just can't decide if I should try it or not. After reading your review I think it may go back on the wish list. I think I'll check for it in the library. Great review!

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  18. I think we do imitate our parents even when we don't want to so this book is probably pretty true to life.

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  19. I have so far steered away from Franzen, but I know I should try him at least once. After all, if he's good enough for the President, perhaps he worth my time too :) Great review!

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  20. i began reading the book a few weeks ago. It got a bit slow so I put it aside and read a couple of faster paced books. I did like what I had read, and will get back to it one day.

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  21. I've got the hard cover version of this book and can't wait to read it!

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  22. I haven't read any of his novels, but I do want to give this one a try.

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  23. Great review. Sounds like a good book.

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  24. Oh goodie. I just skimmed this because I want to go into it with little or no information. I think I'm going to read this once all my challenge obligations are done.

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  25. I tried to, but I just didn't love this one. I'm glad that you enjoyed it, though!

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  26. I haven't read anything by this author yet, but books about dysfunctional families interest me so I'll keep it in mind.

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  27. Another one for my list, thank you and thanks for stopping by.

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  28. I like the characters and the idea behind the story, personal freedoms. I read a negative review the other day in a magazine so I'm glad to know you really enjoyed the book. I really liked the Corrections and was hoping for another good read from Franzen.

    ~ Amy

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  29. The narrator does make all the difference in a good audio book. I haven't read this author before.

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  30. I'm sure that one day you will turn me into an audio person!!!

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  31. I'm going to have to pick this one up, but I haven't read "The Corrections" yet, so I may hold off for a little while.

    Julie @ Knitting and Sundries

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  32. I have this in print, but if you liked the audio version maybe I should pick that up instead.

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