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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

What does Mrs. Freeman Want ?

Petros Abatzoglou

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To purchase What does Mrs. Freeman Want ?

Title: What does Mrs. Freeman Want ?
Author: Petros Abatzoglou
Genre: Novel
Written: 1988 (Eng. 1991)
Length: 111 pages
Original in: Greek
Availability: What does Mrs. Freeman Want ? - US
What does Mrs. Freeman Want ? - UK
What does Mrs. Freeman Want ? - Canada
Le choix de Madame Freeman - France
  • Greek title: Τι θέλει η κυρία Φρίμαν
  • Translated by Kay Cicellis
  • Awarded the Greek National Book Award, 1988

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Our Assessment:

B : breezy novella relating a life

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The LA Times . 13/3/2005 Susan Salter Reynolds

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The complete review's Review:

       What does Mrs. Freeman Want ? isn't exactly a question that plagues the narrator, but he is curious, and on a sunny day at the beach goes on about her at considerable length in relating her life-story to his female companion. The narrator -- named Petros Abatzoglou -- doesn't say all that much about himself (or his relationship with the considerably older Mrs. Freeman), focussing almost completely on her life, and mainly on her relationship with the man who became her husband, a professor named Freeman. There are digressions -- Petros adds his two cents on a few subjects that crop up -- and he enjoys his ouzo and the occasional dip in the water as he tells his tale, but it's Mrs. Freeman that is at the centre of the story.
       Petros is now middle-aged and living -- at least on this day -- quite the carefree life. Mrs. Freeman (herself now over ninety) clearly made quite the impression on him, though their exact relationship -- and his fascination with her story -- aren't really made clear.
       What Mrs. Freeman wanted over the course of her life does come up, and the answer varies. Early on, landing Freeman is an obvious goal, while after World War II both she and her husband find themselves: "devoid of ambition, and, naturally, of expectation." Part of what appears to appeal to the narrator about Mrs. Freeman is those changing ambitions and desires -- especially, presumably, the final ambition of the old lady, the fact that even at her advanced age (which is frequently mentioned) she still wants something.
       It's an odd, second-hand account, the narrator after all able only to tell (and refracting through his own limited point of view) what Mrs. Freeman confided in him. He goes on at considerable length about her courtship and the early years of her marriage, for example. Freeman, who becomes a well-known and respected scholar, doesn't interest him nearly as much as his wife, perhaps because:

he was a tormented creature running after elusive words in order to discover some meaning to life.
       Mrs. Freeman's approach -- though she too isn't always satisfied either -- appeals to him much more. He presents her as some sort of ideal, despite her clearly not being a model the woman he is with might be prodded to emulate -- nor her being a lover (or even mother-) figure for him.
       It's an interesting enough life-story that's related, and the removed (and interrupted) narrative is appealing, but, like the narrator, it all seems to lack a bit of drive and purpose. It does make for a pleasant enough small beach read, however.

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What does Mrs. Freeman Want ?: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Greek writer Petros Abatzoglou (Πέτρος Αμπατζόγλου, Petros Ampatzoglou) lived 1931 to 2004.

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© 2005-2008 the complete review

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