Florence Gordon

Brian Morton. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-544-30986-9
Morton (Starting Out in the Evening) offers up a fascinating family presided over by the irascible Florence Gordon, a 75-year-old New York City intellectual and feminist activist who likes to surprise, argue, and criticize. Florence never sought public adoration during her long career committed to women’s empowerment, but, now that she has been touted as “an American classic” by her young new editor, she finds she likes the attention. Her pending memoir will be her crowning literary achievement, but her family’s temporary relocation to New York from Seattle interferes with her process: she considers it an unwelcome intrusion into her well-established routine. Florence’s son, Daniel, is a Seattle policeman, an apparently disappointing career choice for the son of a famous feminist, and she cannot understand why she feels so little affection for him. She thinks his wife, Janine, is a vacuous suck-up and also has a difficult time connecting with her inquisitive teenage granddaughter, Emily, although the two eventually develop a tentative rapport. Florence never sees the disaster looming in her son’s marriage after an unexpected, life-altering medical diagnosis causes her to make two fateful decisions about her own future. As a strong-willed, independent woman, Florence is comfortable with herself and the manner in which she deals with others—“one of the fine things in life is the difference between what goes on inside you and what you show to the world.” Morton’s characters are sharply drawn, vivid in temperament and behavior, and his prose smartly reveals Florence’s strength and dignity. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/02/2014
Release date: 09/23/2014
Genre: Fiction
Library Binding - 48 pages - 978-0-375-92986-1
Hardcover - 48 pages - 978-0-375-82986-4
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