Synopses & Reviews
One of the most admired and honored of our contemporary literary artists, author John Crowley now brilliantly re-creates a time in America when ordinary people were asked to sacrifice their comforts and uproot their lives for the cause of freedom.
In the early years of the 1940s, as the nation's young men ship off to war, the call goes out for builders of the machinery necessary to defeat the enemy. To this purpose, a city has sprung up seemingly overnight in the windswept fields of Oklahoma: the Van Damme airplane factory, a gargantuan complex dedicated to the construction of the B-30 Pax, the largest bomber ever built. Laborers — some men, but mostly women, many of whom have never operated a rivet gun or held a screwdriver — flock to this place, eager to earn, to grow, to do their part. Many are away from home for the very first time, enticed by the opportunity to be something more than wife and homemaker. In the middle of nowhere they will live, work, and earn their own money, fearing for the safety of their absent fighting men as the world around them changes forever.
Vi, with her gun of a pitching arm, finds Van Damme after fleeing a dying ranch and a stubborn, broken father to chase a future built on something stronger than poison earth. Connie, once fragile and helpless, follows an unfaithful husband here with their little boy in tow — and inadvertently discovers who she is and what she's capable of achieving. Before Diane can enter the factory's gates, the restless young woman must leave behind the hot music and soldier boys she followed, taking a sudden, bold, and dangerous step in pursuit of something different, adult, and real.
Their journeys will be liberating in ways they couldn't imagine, and will lead each of them to Prosper Olander. Disabled, an artist, a forger, a friend — a surprising lover and compassionate listener — Prosper has followed unlikely opportunity down a painfully twisting path to take his place as the true heart and soul of a temporary city. And before the B-30 Pax takes flight, he will change the lives of four women in profound and unexpected ways.
Destined to stand tall among his previous acclaimed fiction — including Little, Big; The Agypt Cycle; The Translator; and Lord Byron's Novel — John Crowley's Four Freedoms is perhaps his most heartfelt and compelling novel to date. It is a moving, evocative, and unforgettable saga of wives, mothers, and lovers — of strangers, outcasts, and damaged Quixotes — who, unmoored by conflict's unpredictable tides, find community, purpose, identity, independence...and one remarkable man who will touch them all.
"Although nominally about life at an American aircraft factory during World War II, Crowley's complex and subtle novel is much grander....[A] triumph of both research and imagination....A wonderful novel that readers won't soon forget." Booklist (starred review)
"More rich, satisfying food for thought from one of America's most imaginative and accomplished novelists." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
From the critically acclaimed author of Lord Byron's Novel and The Translator comes an imaginative account of war and peace, innocence and wisdom, set in 1940s America.
"So rich and so evocative and so authentic." —Tom Brokaw, author of The Greatest Generation
"John Crowley is a virtuoso of metaphor, a peerless recreator of living moments, of small daily sublimities.” —New York Times Book Review
From the critically acclaimed author of Lord Byrons Novel and The Translator comes a novel set in World War II America that follows the stories of a group of aircraft factory workers—in particular, the enigmatic figure of draftsman Prosper Olander. Named one of the Best Books of 2009 by the Washington Post, Four Freedoms is a beautifully crafted story of liberation and redemption from an author who has been compared to Robertson Davies, Thomas Mann, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
About the Author
John Crowley lives in the hills above the Connecticut River in northern Massachusetts with his wife and twin daughters. He is the author of ten previous novels as well as the short fiction collection Novelties and Souvenirs