freedom – jonathan franzen
I wanted to like this book. I really did. It was our Book Club read choice that we discussed last night. However, it wasn’t that long ago that we read The Corrections (although it felt that it was far more recent than November – it obviously hung around in my memory!). And even though I claimed to have enjoyed reading it, I still only gave it 3/5 stars on Goodreads, so I obviously didn’t find it THAT enjoyable.
Freedom is about a supposedly ‘normal’ family living in America and shows each of the family members from each other’s eyes, from outsider’s eyes and from their own over a period of about six decades.
I had exactly the same initial disorientated feelings reading Freedom as I did with The Corrections. You are plunged into the middle of an event, and introduced to this stream of people of which you have no way of knowing whether they are going to be relevant to the main story or not.
And once again, I found every single character pretty much unlikeable. Now I am happy to have anti-heroes who you are supposed to dislike, but at least have something interesting about them that makes you want to know what happens to them next (mainly because you hope they’ll get their come-uppance), but i found all the characters unlikeable, pretty much unbelievable and I couldn’t actually care less what happened to them. If I had got to the middle pages, and found they all died in a freak ‘satellite dropping from space’ accident and the rest of the book was in fact blank pages, I would have felt relieved.
There were also whole long rambling sections about specific conservation issues which were relevant to one of the characters – but not in so much detail!! If I had wanted to read a conservation book, then I would’ve picked one up. It didn’t move the story on at all and only served to annoy me even further!
Another thing that irked me was how Patty’s sections were written using the phrase “…the autobiographer…” far too often (I have just done a search on my Kindle and apparently it is mentioned 85 times! Far too many in my view…or should that be in the autobiographer’s/reviewer’s view?). There were also a lot of current references that seemd to have no bearing on the story, but felt like they had been included to make it feel very ‘now’.
And everything seemed to be wrapped up too neatly and conveniently and without much explanation in some cases.
All in all, there was some nice writing, some memorable scenes (eg searching for the wedding ring) and it wasn’t the absolute worst book I have read. However, it was far more annoying than enjoyable, and I don’t like being annoyed by something that is meant to be entertaining me.
Overall, it felt smug and opinionated, wasn’t a patch on The Corrections (which wasn’t even an outstanding book itself) and grated on me more than I felt was acceptable!
And it was too long.
Of course – everyone else in Book Club absolutely loved it with a couple saying that it was the best book they have read in a very long time/this year etc. So, whatever you do, don’t let my opinion sway you!