Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Review contributed by Mireille Auzon.

At first I was reluctant to even buy the book because of its massive size, but then I reconsidered because it was recommended to me by someone who usually has good taste in books. It took me a while to finish it, probably longer than any other book has taken me to read, not because it is difficult, not because it is boring, but because of my recent addiction to online poker. But that is another story for another time.

The book was all in all a great and smooth read. I got to enjoy it to the fullest. Franzen wrights beautifully and ever delightfully. You can easily identify with his characters and with the plot.

Freedom narrates the story of three generations and the book gives each of the characters its rightful share by describing their thoughts, feelings, opinions, dilemmas and insecurities. The way the lives of the heroes get entangled is fascinating by its normality, its sense of absolute realism.
Franzen also critiques American politics in a highly sarcastic and straightforward tone. His aversion to Republicans and his disagreement with the war against Iraq are in full view throughout the book, although not its main subject; he just intelligently and briefly introduces them along the book’s stream.
You will find yourself torn between love and hate in two extremely different manners – or at least I did – which are, first, the great classics manner, and second, the soap operas one!

Do not be discouraged by my last remark, try instead to read the book to know what I mean.
Oh and I should mention a little something that might be a spoiler but really isn’t, Franzen thinks that Qaddafi is a handsome man!
Sorry for the long introduction, but I am a blogger and I tend to blab a lot 🙂


One comment

  1. Mustapha

    I did read this book and have greatly enjoyed it. Thanks for the review Mireille. I’ll add my voice to yours and strongly recommend it.

    Franzen writes beautifully and the prose is almost poetic. His characters are very well developed and feel alive, and I wasn’t at all bothered by the epic size of the book.

    In fact I enjoyed the book so much that I read War and Peace by Leo Tollstoy right after reading it for the simple fact that Franzen evoked it three times in Freedom (and I later heard that War and Peace is Franzen’s favorite work of fiction)

    My only problem with Franzen is that he is obviously grumpy about technology (witness Richard’s criticism of Apple and the ipod). But that’s a minor thing. The book is just perfect..

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