Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 9/23/2014
Buy from IndieBound
At seventy-five Florence Gordon, a self-proclaimed “old feminist”, begins gathering her past work and thoughts into a memoir. Despite her hesitations, Florence enlists her granddaughter Emily, caught in limbo on a break from college, to help research and keep things organized. Though they hardly know one other, the project will open doors and spark communication for Florence, Emily and their entire far-flung family.
You’ll empathize with everyone…
even if you don’t like them. And that’s important. I don’t necessarily need characters to be likable, but if an author can make me empathize with characters I dislike or disapprove of, they’ve truly struck a chord. Without slipping into the increasingly common tactic of alternating first-person chapters, Brian Morton gives each of his characters distinct voices and viewpoints that make them vividly real.
“They had been in New York for months now and she hadn’t been to see them. She felt guilty for a moment, then realized that guilt was merely a sort of tribute she was paying to convention—in fact, she simply hadn’t wanted to see them—and she stopped feeling guilty.”
The language and pun-based banter between Emily and Florence is the key to their growing relationship and their inside jokes become infectious. It’s like sharing a secret with a best friend and you can’t help but crack a grin.
Brian Morton is a Bad Feminist.
Well, maybe he’s not, but Emily is (she just doesn’t know it). She’s well aware of feminism and the role Florence played in the movement, but hates being made to feel guilty for watching romantic comedies. It’s great to see this touched on in fiction, along with smart commentary on second and third-wave feminism.
You’ll be highlighting for days.
Between Florence’s dry wit, Emily’s subtle snark, and the constantly insightful commentary from the novel’s cast of characters, you’ll find endless lines to highlight in Brian Morton’s smart sentences.
It brings aging to the forefront.
Aging so often marks the end of a novel. You may be given a few, sickly moments in conclusion, but it’s rare that aging ever becomes part of the story itself. Florence Gordon brings the process to the forefront and allows you to experience it through the eyes of a vibrant, passionate woman, and the friends growing old around her.
“Yetta’s bullshit detector was intact; her sense of humor was intact; her pride was intact. But gone was the faculty that makes you want to take care of yourself, and gone was the faculty that enables you to distinguish between what is real and what is not.”