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I am a non-fiction guy. I read (listen to) a lot of business books, history books and opinion based on fact (!) books, so it was rather odd that I purchased this nove. I had seen a very glowing review of it in National Review, so it caught my interest. I had just finished Ayn Rand's 51 hour epic, Atlas Shrugged, so I wasn't sure I was up for another stemwinder.
Some of the reviews of this audiobook disparaged David LeDoux's reading of it, especially his rendition of Lalitha, the Bengali girlfriend of Walter. Her voice was a bit contrived, but it was actually not a bad version of a man's Indian accent (albeit a man with a tenor voice.) Seriously, I thought his manner of speaking was soooooooo totally well-done. Some narrators just speak the words, others attempt to bring life to the words while not attempting to actually sound like the character, but LeDoux does it all and it really helped me make it through a 24 hour book.
Rather than review the substance of the book, which has already been well covered, I wanted to comment on the form. As an audiobook, I found it a bit tough to follow the timeline as well as some of the characters of the novel. Franzen's use of time shifting, sometimes in remembrances, sometimes in just seemingly random storyline movements were confusing to this listener. Also, in one chapter near the end when Patty was dealing with her family, the names became almost overwhelming to place without having a visual marker by which to sort them, but such is a hazard of audiobooks.
My hearty recommendation is to get this book. Don't be swayed by a few naysayers about the narration. Plus when you are done with it, you will feel soooooooo much better about your own situation in life. Reeeeally...
21 of 21 people found this review helpful
This is a brilliantly written novel. One of the best I’ve read, or listened to, in quite a while. The story-line itself does not give an accurate picture of what this book is all about. When looked at superficially, the main characters are stereotypes of white, liberal, middle class Americans. The subject matter of teenage rebellion, strained relationships with parents, marital estrangement and infidelity can all be considered overdone and passé, but Franzen brings a new insight to these themes and explores them with an honesty and understatedness that is completely refreshing. Freedom is an epic story depicting contemporary American life in a distinctive, intimate and unique way.
David LeDoux, the narrator, does a great job, especially considering the fact that while the author is male, the majority of this story is told from the perspective of Patty Berglund, a female. Having a male narrator does not take away from things one little bit. This is also a long book and the story takes place over many years. The narrator keeps things moving in an entertaining and understandable way.
16 of 16 people found this review helpful