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Summary

Set in a historical moment of moral crisis, Crossroads is the stunning foundation of a sweeping investigation of human mythologies, as the Hildebrandt family navigate the political and social crosscurrents of the past 50 years.

It’s 23rd December 1971, and heavy weather is the forecast for Chicago. Russ Hildebrandt, the associate pastor of a liberal suburban church, is on the brink of breaking free of a marriage he finds joyless - unless his wife, Marion, who has her own secret life, beats him to it. Their eldest child, Clem, is coming home from college on fire with moral absolutism, having taken an action that will shatter his father. Clem’s sister, Becky, long the social queen of her high school class, has sharply veered into the counterculture, while their brilliant younger brother, Perry, who’s been selling drugs to seventh-graders, has resolved to be a better person. Each of the Hildebrandts seeks a freedom that each of the others threatens to complicate.

Jonathan Franzen’s novels are celebrated for their unforgettably vivid characters and their keen-eyed take on the complexities of contemporary America. Now, for the first time, in Crossroads, Franzen explores the history of a generation. With characteristic humour and complexity, and with even greater warmth, he conjures a world that feels no less immediate.

A tour de force of interwoven perspectives and sustained suspense, Crossroads is the story of a Midwestern family at a historical moment of moral crisis. Jonathan Franzen’s gift for melding the small picture and the big picture has never been more dazzlingly evident.

©2021 Jonathan Franzen (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"A literary genius for our time." (Guardian)

"Arguably America’s greatest living novelist." (Daily Telegraph)

"Franzen is that rare bird: a literary novelist of the highest distinction who has also become one of the bestsellers of the age." (Evening Standard)

"His best novel yet.... A Middlemarch-like triumph." (Telegraph)

"Crossroads is the spiritual successor to The Corrections.... It is a testament to Franzen’s authorial habits of empathy, his curiosity about the lives of others, his efforts in a land of cliche to add twists to easy assumptions, that you are likely to find yourself caring about how things turn out for each of the Hildebrandts equally." (Observer

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A novel to feed the brain of an 87yr old widow

I loved the richness of the language and skilful weaving together of every strand. Masterful.