Let me be straight with you, fellow readers. I wasn’t even finished with Freedom before I chose Jonathan Franzen’s novel to kick-start my “what-book-are-you-cheating-on-Algonquin- with” entry. Is it everything the critics have hyped it up to be? Was Time right in picking Jonathan Franzen as the first author in ten years to grace their cover? Was Anna Wintour onto something when she assigned a photo shoot with him for the pages of Vogue? Was Oprah correct in selecting it for her book club?
In a word: yes. The novel is delicious. While I’m most certainly not the best person to give you a complete book review (I’ll leave Washington Post book critic Ron Charles to that), I will share with you a few of my thoughts. Freedom is the kind of novel that has me rethinking the idea of suburbia. It’s the kind of book that has me applauding Franzen for his ability to capture a woman’s voice so accurately (sorry to disagree with you on that point there, Ron). It’s the kind of book that honestly portrays the difficulties that arise within a relationship. Instead of making his characters unsympathetic because of their problems, Franzen turns them into people who are painstakingly vulnerable. We see these characters struggle to identify themselves as individuals, beyond the confines of their relationships. And who wouldn’t be able to relate to that?
The media build-up for this book is almost unprecedented—it’s the kind of drumbeating usually associated with the release of a major movie. But it’s especially unusual for a book that’s considered “literary.” It’s truly a beautiful book, seemingly effortlessly written. If everyone’s drinking a little bit of the ‘Franzen Franzia,’ I’ll happily pour myself a glass as well
–Megan Fishmann, Publicist