Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom is definitely worth reading if you can take the focus on sexual relations that’s quite prevalent. I found it hard to put down, and was blubbing effusively by the end. Perhaps it’s a little sentimental, finally, but Franzen is pretty clear sighted in identifying the selfishness, the foibles, the weaknesses of his characters, whilst showing compassion for their vulnerability.
Franzen examines a modern marriage, shows the selfishness of sexual indulgence and the foolishness it can bring. He values love and friendship and family, and these issues are at the core of the novel. It’s also a novel about modern America – about the environment, and about the corruption of post 9/11 petro-imperialism.
We see the marriage of Walter and Patty Berglund, their lives, and the lives of their children, through Patty’s confessional writings. Later Franzen tells the story from different points of view – husband, lover, son, friend. At each point the writing is convincing and insightful. The values of small town America are celebrated or condemned in line with their true worth.
Franzen is a left wing writer, a liberal. Thank God for the kind of liberalism that places love and forgiveness at its heart.