Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

It’s been a while since The Corrections was published but it’s well worth the wait. Freedom isn’t as biting or satirical as The Corrections, although it does have it’s moments as it explores American, (but really universal) lives.

Patty and Walter Berglund have a ‘happy’ life, especially Walter who got the girl he really wanted in Patty.  Patty spends the early years of her marriage baking and being the perfect hands on parent to their two children, Joey and Jessica, the only flaw in this being her not so subtle favouritism of Joey.  On the edges of this life is Richard, Walter’s old college friend, for whom Patty harbours feelings that often threaten her equilibrium.  As she rues the fact that she married the good, sensible man who adores her, instead of the sexy one who will probably ruin her life, Patty becomes slightly unhinged over time.  Joey develops a co-dependent relationship with Connie the girl next door, which infuriates his mother, and frustrates his father who hates anything that upsets Patty. Jessica is self sufficient and critical of, though resigned to the family dynamics.  When Walter leave his job to become involved in a convoluted plan to save a warbling bird he meets Lalitha, a delicious young woman, who against all the odds, is madly in love with him. He resists and resists, until Patty’s long-ago betrayal of him with Richard is revealed.

Freedom is a book which requires time.  Not because it is difficult, but because of the pleasure of reading each sentence properly, just to make sure you aren’t missing anything.  It will make you laugh, cringe, and nod in recognition. Fans of The Corrections won’t be disappointed, and I hope lots of new readers find Jonathan Franzen.  Highly recommended.  Heather  Paperback $33

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