cover image Lorna Mott Comes Home

Lorna Mott Comes Home

Diane Johnson. Knopf, $27.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-525-52108-2

Johnson (Flyover Lives: A Memoir) makes a welcome return to her wheelhouse in this propulsive domestic dramedy of manners. Having lived for more that 20 years in a village with the “exigent rectitude of formal, starchy France,” Lorna Mott Dumas leaves her philandering husband, onetime museum curator Armand-Loup, whose life consists of “sex, cassoulet and Bordeaux,” to return home to San Francisco, hoping to reboot her floundering professional life as an academic, establish a career on the lecture circuit, and reconnect with three grown children from her failed first marriage. Prime among the crises and misfortunes she encounters are Lorna’s pregnant and diabetic 15-year old granddaughter, Gilda. Lorna’s relationship with Gilda becomes a focus of the narrative, and it gradually gives her a sense of purpose. Meanwhile, Lorna may have left France behind, but it didn’t leave her. After a mudslide disinters the bones of a famous American painter back in the French village where she lived, Lorna is contacted by French police, entangling her in legal problems that eventually intertwine both story lines. Johnson’s usual razor-sharp prose and astute observations are on full display as she tweaks comic incidents arising out of her characters’ relationships. This provocative family chronicle resolves in a poignant ending with prospects for a promising sequel. The author’s fans are in for a treat. (Jun.)