Book Review: Florence Gordon by Brian Morton

Florence Gordon by Brian Morton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher: Houghten Mifflin Harcourt

Summary:  A wise and entertaining novel about a woman who has lived life on her own terms for seventy-five defiant and determined years, only to find herself suddenly thrust to the center of her family’s various catastrophes

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. 

When I'm introduced to a character that is eyeing a window in a restaurant bathroom and sizing it up to see if she can manage to get her 75 year old self out of it to escape a surprise party in her honor, I have no choice but to love her. And so, Florence Gordon had my adoration. She has almost an excess of personality and she brooks no fools. I never had grandmothers when I was a child so I've have a mental list of who I thought would make neat ones from books & television. Murphy Brown, Murphy's mother, Avery Brown, Diana Trent... my list goes on and now has Florence. Emily's the luckiest character herein because she has the best relationship situation with Florence.

This was a fast read with wit and insight. Florence has done her bit for feminism in her lifetime but if her family (son, daughter in-law, granddaughter & estranged from everyone,grandson) are any indication, she's had to sacrifice her family in the service of the good fight. They're all members of a family who don't truly interact in the ways they most need too. Everyone's yearning for more but remain quite closed off from one another in some of the most meaningful ways. Still, through it all, I was intrigued and invested in how everything from Florence's memoir to all the family stuff would all resolve itself. Abruptly is the answer here and I could have gone another fifty or so pages to satisfy me with a more in depth closure.

Definitely recommended. Not since I read (& loved) Gloria by Keith Maillard have I been so very taken by a man penning a woman so deftly.

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