Author: Jonathan Franzen
Production/Bibliographic Information: Audio CD, BBC Audiobooks America, 2010, 19 discs, 1500 minutes
Directed/ Performed by: Read by David Ledoux
Part of a Series: No.
Book tie-in: An unabridged recording of Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.
- Domestic Fiction
- Dysfunctional Families
- Family Relationships
- Husband and Wife
- Interpersonal Relations
- Literary Fiction
- Love Triangles
- Political Fiction
- Rock Stars
Plot Summary: In this sweeping family saga, politically correct Walter and Patty Berglund have the best of intentions. Walter, a dutiful, hardworking, and idealistic attorney marries the wishy-washy Patty, a college basketball star. They live in St. Paul and raise two children, Joey and Jessica. Patty takes to house-wifery with the same kind of competition and aggression that she applied to her sports career. In the middle of his high school years, independent and defiant Joey leaves the family to move in with his girlfriend next door and her Republican, uncultured parents. Devastated Patty is left depressed and soon finds herself obsessed with Walter’s best friend, a sexy rock star. Despite their desire to be perfect, the Berglund family begins to unravel.
Appeal: Fans of literary fiction will be intrigued by this realistic portrait of modern American middle-class life. Although the characters are not always sympathetic, readers will relate the problems the Berglunds face. Franzen often takes a comic tone and tackles much of the hypocrisy and entanglement of modern politics.
Features: The narrator, David Ledoux does an excellent job narrating this complex book. He creates different voices for the different characters (including women) without sounding silly.
Prizes or Awards: Starred review from BookList, Library Journal, and Publisher’s Weekly. Chosen for Oprah’s book club. The New York Times called Freedom “A masterpiece of American fiction.”
Similar Works: We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates is another saga of a middle class family in crisis. Little Children by Tom Perrotta focuses on a group of suburban parents whose quiet lives are disturbed by infidelity and the arrival of a sex-offender. White Noise by Don DeLillo also portrays the absurdity of middle class life. (All suggestions from NoveList.)
Reviewer’s Name: Julia McConnell