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Book Club Podcast: Rachel Mann on Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

05 October 2023

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Diocese of Manchester

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen is the choice for this month’s Church Times Book Club. On the podcast this week, Rachel Mann, who has written this month’s essay about the book, discusses it with Sarah Meyrick.

Crossroads is a family saga set in suburban Chicago in the 1970s. The book, the first in a trilogy, focuses on the Hildebrandt family and the struggles they face trying to adapt to a fast-changing society. At the head of the family is Russ, a disillusioned pastor who feels under threat from his charismatic young associate. They disagree over the running of the youth group, “Crossroads”. Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the burgeoning hippie movement, the narrative reveals the moral challenges that the younger members of the family face as they, in turn, reveal their troubles. Much of the story unfolds over the course of one day leading up to Christmas. This adds intensity to the story, reflecting Franzen’s skill in capturing the dramas of domestic life.

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen is published by HarperCollins at £9.99 (Church Times Bookshop £8.99); 978-0-00-830893-3.

The Ven. Dr Rachel Mann is the Archdeacon of Bolton and Salford, and a Visiting Fellow of Manchester Met University.

The Church Times Book Club is run in association with the Festival of Faith and Literature

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