Freedom

  • by Jonathan Franzen
  • Narrated by David LeDoux
  • 24 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the National Book Award-winning author of The Corrections, a darkly comedic novel about family.
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 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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What the Critics Say

"The Great American Novel." (Esquire)
"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." (Patrick Condon, Associated Press)
“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 day as he is at limning their messy inner lives . . . 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." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Believe the Hype

With so much maudlin advance-hype of the printed novel, I looked for reasons to criticize this audiobook. Alas, it lived up to, and in my opinion, exceeded expectations.

David LeDoux does a masterful job in performing the many voices in Freedom. I’ve watched several YouTube interviews of Fanzen. LeDoux’s voice and presentation are similar. He captures Franzen’s manner of speaking which is consistent with the tone and themes of this book. Whether this was intended by the producers is an open question since the narrator of the audiobook The Corrections had a smoky, older voice (though he did a good job).

Fanzen has been criticized for his sarcastic and cynical interviews, but to me he is entertaining, sincere, and very, very smart. Many great authors such as Joyce, Hemmingway, and Fitzgerald had big egos. They took their writing seriously and expected the same from their readers. This is not a bad thing.

I have listened to a little over 300 unabridged audiobooks, many of them recordings of classics such as Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy, Joyce, etc. I don’t give inflated reviews. Offhand, the only performance that meets or exceeds LeDoux’s performance is Jeremy Iron’s reading of Lolita. This audiobook is worth the time and money, and then some. It’s that good.
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- Lawrence

Brilliant writing, difficult to like

I couldn't wait for Jonathan Franzen's new book to come out. And I have to say...I kinda sorta hated it. And I liked it. A lot. I did not, however, LOVE it.

I like difficult books with difficult characters. But, with the exception of one or two characters, this is a book filled with intensely selfish, deeply unlikeable people. Would that I could create characters so clearly defined! I mean, Franzen is brilliant in this regard. You know EXACTLY who these people are...and you would never want to invite them to dinner.

I had to struggle to get through it. I'm conflicted. Great writing, great story line. But really hard people to spend time with.

I will say, the ending was very satisfying, so I'm glad I hung in there. Getting to the final sentences, though, was a struggle for this voracious reader of comtemporary and classic literature.

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- Annie M. "Say something about yourself!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-31-2010
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio