A friend lent this to me and told me I must read it because she loved it. I didn’t ask her why. I didn’t ask her anything about the book. I just read it.
I have to say, I didn’t love it. It’s a good read, but I wouldn’t list it as one of my favourite books.
It’s a bleak tale about family life. None of the characters have any redeeming qualities, right down to Bobby the cat (who appears for only a few pages). I can’t think of one character I empathised with. And yet I kept on reading. I wanted to know what happened to these dysfunctional, despicable, materialistic characters – hoping to find a glimpse of why they turned out that way.
Franzen mentions the word ‘freedom’ several times throughout the novel, but it made me ask myself – how many of us are really free? Free to make decisions without worrying about consequences? Emotionally free? Financially free? We all end up in prisons of our own making while training to attain ‘freedom’.
Having said all that I’m glad I read it. Franzen’s beautiful writing makes up for his loathsome characters. And I even shed a tear at the last sentence (on the bus – very embarrassing).
That’s number 11 of my 20 books in 2011. I’m still on track!