Monday, February 21, 2011

FREEDOM by Jonathan Franzen

I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of books which I have put down unfinished.  Really, I have only myself to blame for this one.  Since contemporary fiction dealing with modern angst and dysfunctional families never seems to appeal to me, I knew that this book was not for me.  However, a couple of fellow Shelfarians had a discussion about this book-how they loved it and felt that it was getting some unfairly low ratings.  So, wanting to see what all the fuss was about, I got the highly recommended audio from the library.  

One thing that I must admit-the book is well written.  My dislike of the novel stems purely my personal inability to identify with any of the characters or situations in the book.  Not only could I not identify with them, I did not like a single one of the characters.  I also had issues with the, to me, offensive language, and the fact that every female in the book is rendered as weak, indecisive, and willing to be led by the man in her life.  Admittedly, I did not finish the book (I made it almost half way), and perhaps these insipid women  rally in the second half.  Personally, I had had enough and didn't care to stick around to find out.  


  1. Sounds a lot like his other book, The Corrections, which I DID read but did not enjoy. I don't mind stories about dysfunctional families but this one had almost no redeeming qualities in my opinion and I felt Franzen felt he was soooo talented throughout it all but it didn't really ring true. The characters seemed very...crafted and fake. And very unlikable throughout it all. And I did finish it. Made me realize that I didn't want to read Freedom any time soon (if ever), regardless of reviews.

  2. Okay, I'm one of the bad Shelfarians that led her astray on this book. Oddly enough, dysfunctional families are one of my LEAST favorite subjects to read about. And I, too, was not overly fond of The Corrections. All I can say was that this one entranced me, from start to finish. I didn't really relate to the characters, but I empathized with them, for all their weaknesses and their foilbles. Does that make sense?

    Incidentally, I also listened to this on audio and thought it was one of the best audio books I've ever heard--not that I have a ton of experience their. I thought David LeDoux's performance was a knock-out.

    At least you borrowed the book from the library. So, to each her own, and take future recommnedations from me with a grain of salt. ;-)

  3. Susan, I also listened to the audio of this one (I should have specified that, sorry), and I agree that the audio is excellent. It is very likely that I would not have made it as far as I did had I not done it on audio. You and Nicole mentioned that the audio was very good, so that is why I thought to give the book a try; often books that are not quite up my alley go over easier in that format.

    I agree that one can empathize with the characters, but I generally need to see them moving in a positive direction as the novel progresses (or at least some of them), or the book begins to drag me down. Characters such as Patti, who do not seem to learn from their mistakes, tend to become rather tiresome and irritating to me after a time. It makes the plot feel stagnant and repetitive. As I said, perhaps I did not give the book long enough, but by the middle of disk seven (of sixteen), I had reached my limit. Some of that might just have been my mood at the time as well.

    Do not think that I will be giving up on your reviews! One of the reasons that I like your reviews is because we have such different tastes. Being open-minded about what I read has helped me to discover writers I might never have touched on my own.

  4. I've hear do much about this book I'm just going to have to finish it. While the writing is excellent, this book just seems like it swaggers? I don't know how else to put it...And well, that swaggering is off-putting to say the least.

  5. I seldom put a book down, but I have so many wonderful reads waiting in the wings! Why waste my time with a book that isn't singing to me in any register?