In his latest novel, Florence Gordon, Brian Morton presents a steely, multifaceted character in the 75 year old Florence. An opinionated (why would any intellectual choose to live anywhere but New York?), prickly intellectual and a stalwart feminist from the advent of the movement. She enjoys her friends, but when one of them organizes a surprise birthday party for her, Florence stays for 10 minutes and can’t get away fast enough; she’d been in a writing groove when called away. She doesn’t much like her son or his wife who are spending the summer in New York while their daughter Emily visits colleges. Florence’s only soft spot is for her ex-husband, fellow academic and writer who hasn’t written a thing in 40 years, but rests on his early accolades and tries to bully Florence into helping him land a job. It’s complicated. When Florence’s floundering two-month-old latest book suddenly skyrockets in popularity because of a front page article in the New York Times Book Review, her resulting busyness demands an assistant, a position her granddaughter fills with enthusiasm. When Emily detects a change in Florence, she stubbornly attempts to break down her grandmother’s formidable emotional barriers. Meanwhile Emily’s parents are interestingly fleshed out in a parallel story line. Readers will likely regret leaving behind these unforgettable characters.
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