The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

Enter the life and world of the Lamberts, a Midwestern fairly average American family doing their absolute best to survive the 20th century. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen is about a family who are dysfunctional as a unit but as individuals on the surface appear to be making the most of what an economically booming America throws at them.

The Corrections by Jonathan FranzenThis is an excellent read and one that I don’t think I will ever recover from! Famously, this is the book chosen for the Oprah Winfrey book club and withdrawn following some disagreeable comments from the author. I’m sure this didn’t do anything to harm book sales however, at least I hope not for it would be a great loss to the good book readers of the world!

This is a story about a family that doesn’t seem to function as a unit any more (if in fact it ever did). The chief characters are Alfred and Enid Lambert, the mother and father. Alfred was always something of a tyrannical figure – a railway engineer prior to his retirement – over the family but in the present is found succumbing to the debilitating Parkinson’s disease. It is over to Enid, his wife, to take control of household affairs and to deal with and overcome the changes happening in the house. And do it alone she appears to do. A tall order.

The ‘children’, in the present day, grown up, have lives and careers miles away from their family home in St Judes. As a result of the conflicts of a changing world and the old fashioned values bestowed upon them by their parents, each of the siblings felt compelled to get away as far as they could. They each have thriving careers as banker, chef and internet teacher until the apple cart is rocked and each of their lives begin to head for disaster.

Gary, the oldest of the Lambert offspring is married with kids and is an investment banker. He is being manipulated by his wife and drinks too much tending toward depression. Some misplaced investments send his world into meltdown.

Chip, the middle child, is a teacher of computers and technology but falls for a pupil and is suspended from his job forcing him to gain employment elsewhere working for the Lithuanian crime lord on his money making investment site Lithuania.com. With great rewards comes threats, violence and nightmare.

The youngest of the children is Denise who is a talented chef in a trendy restaurant. All is going well until she becomes involved with her boss and his wife – at the same time!

The book is called The Corrections because there’s a lot that’s gone wrong with their lives with misguided and misinformed life decisions being made.

That’s the bare bones of the novel but there’s much more. Enid their mother decides she would love to have her family with her spending a good old fashioned family Christmas at home in St Jude. Kicking and screaming, the children descend and as you would expect, it gets messy, but as Denise would tell you, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs!

This is a fabulous book. I think I picked up the book in the first place because of the Norman Rockwell style artwork of a young family sitting down to family Christmas dinner on the book cover. I’m so glad that I did! If you like The Corrections, you might fancy a go at “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen too. Another excellent book! One of my all-time top ten!