Meet Florence Gordon: blunt, brilliant, cantankerous and passionate, feminist icon to young women, invisible and underappreciated by most everyone else. At seventy-five, Florence has earned her right to set down the burdens of family and work and shape her legacy at long last. But just as she is beginning to write her long-deferred memoir, her son Daniel returns to New York from Seattle with his wife and daughter, and they embroil Florence in their dramas, clouding the clarity of her days with the frustrations of middle-age and the confusions of youth. And then there is her left foot, which is starting to drag.
With searing wit, sophisticated intelligence, and a tender respect for humanity in all its flaws, Brian Morton introduces a constellation of unforgettable characters. Chief among them, Florence, who can humble the fools surrounding her with one barbed line, but who eventually finds there are realities even she cannot outsmart.
This is one of those books you read in just a few sittings. It goes really quickly because the chapters are all pretty short and each in a different character’s viewpoint. They are all pretty easy to connect with too so it makes you want to keep reading.
Florence was one of my favorite characters. She’s this older woman who is a grandma but doesn’t act like your typical grandmother. This works to her advantage in some aspects of her life but ultimately I think she’s missing out on important, meaningful relationships. Florence a favorite feminist and writer and is so focused on maintaining the strong woman she is, so focused on her writing. And that makes her a great role model to her grand daughter Emily. But at the same time her grand daughter desperately wants to be close to her, and Florence never really lets her guard down.
Florence’s son Daniel and his wife Janine are also dealing with some challenges. Janine is starting to have feelings for one of her coworkers and is thinking about an affair. Daniel has to decide if he’s willing to relocate the family from Seattle to New York City. Daniel was instantly a favorite character. He loves his family, he likes his job as a police officer. But Janine at times made me grit my teeth. She kept talking about how much she loved Daniel but he just didn’t already do for her what this coworker does. Well then why don’t you sit down and TALK to him about what you need from him?? You want less joking and more intellectual chatter? You want him to go to museums or something with you?? TELL HIM. That kind of got to me. If you love him you’d talk to him and if he loved you (which he does!) he’d do what you ask and try to put in some effort.
When this book I had a big urge to call my gramma (who’s been gone for a few years) and talk to her about Florence and how she just wouldn’t open up to her grand daughter. Emily wanted so much to get close to Florence and used her as a role model. But Florence didn’t want anyone, not even her family, to see the more vulnerable sides of her. I really enjoyed it.
Title: Florence Gordon
Author: Brian Morton
Date of Publication: September 23rd, 2014
Number of Pages: 320