BOOK REVIEW: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

A while ago I got a choice of free books after buying something on Amazon. I have no idea what since I buy all the things on Amazon. I chose The Corrections because it was the only one on offer that I had not read and I had no idea what it was about before I started reading it. 

Thus multilayered novel explores the lives of the Lambert family through the eyes of its elderly matriarch and patriarch and three adult children.

Alfred and Enid live in the fictional town of St Jude where traditional family values, neighbourliness and keeping up appearances are paramount. While Alfred is slowly sliding into Parkinson’s and dementia, Enid does her best to pretend everything is fine and that all the Lamberts are pillars of the community.

Eldest son, Gary is a semi-successful banker whose comfortable family life is more down to to his wife’s inheritance than the fruit of his labour.  His consequent emasculation means he likes a drink a little bit too much and is disconnected from his wife and children.

Middle child, Chip, is a failed scriptwriter and lecturer with a taste for younger women, class A drugs and living way beyond his means.

And youngest, Denise is a sexually confused, overachieving chief who is always attracted to the wrong people.

As the past and present unfold alongside each other so do each family member’s neuroses, fears and failures all tumbling towards Enid’s big dream of one last family Christmas together in St Jude.

The Corrections explores some pretty big themes from the perils of unrestrained capitalism to the transition of the US economy from industrialisation to service, appearance versus reality and nature versus nurture.

All the characters in this book are awful people, a lot of their behaviour is reprehensible and reading about their self destruction was depressing at times but I mowed through this book. It was just surreal enough to really appeal to me and there was an element of repulsion that made for true guilty pleasure, car-crash reading. Added to this I ended up with an uneasy feeling wondering if anyone is truly happy and if anything is as it really seems under the curated surface presented to the outside world.

Basically I fucking loved it. Thanks, Amazon!




  1. Great review, Abbi. That commuting seems to have got you back in the swing of reading. Nothing quite like reading about a family that is in more trouble than your own! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. It has been one of the few bonuses of having a long commute. I think the Lamberts would make most families feel normal!

  2. dominicself

    Glad you liked this!

    1. I really did. At the beginning I did have a bit of a WTF am I reading feeling but in the end it was great!

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