Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom was one of the most critically acclaimed novels of 2010, lauded as a potential Great American Novel. Through a white, middle-class, liberal lens, it focuses on people’s struggles to define themselves, through marriage, or rebellion, or altruism. It has been described as Dickensian in the scale of its plot and social commentary, although the author forgoes inequality and injustice for corporate corruption and environmentalism.
The novel opens with a section that focuses on the residents of the newly-gentrified suburb of St. Paul, and the narrow-minded suburban gossip that circulates about one family in particular, the Berglunds. Walter and Patty Berglund were “the young pioneers of Ramsay Hill”, he a good-natured small town boy who was “greener than Greenpeace”; she a former jock who became a stay-at-home mum and “a sunny carrier of sociocultural pollen, an affable bee.” They have a precocious son, Joey, and a daughter, Jessica, who is practically forgettable in terms of the narrative. Read the rest of this entry »